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Visa Process Demystified – The UK

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Present statistics obtained from the Higher Education Statistics Agency for the year 2020/2021 state there are currently 605,130 international students pursuing their degrees in the UK in tertiary education institutes.

Short Course Visas

For courses that are up to six months in duration, a student can seek and apply for a short-term study visa, provided the prerequisites for such a course and visa are met. One particular requirement is a minimum age of 18 years for such students. For such courses, a student can enrol and study in any course having a duration of six to eleven months, particularly in the case of English language courses.

Primary Education Visas

As the UK is an education hub for students seeking admission to prestigious boarding schools like Eton, Harrow School, Charterhouse School, Tonbridge School etc., the type of visa changes depending on the student’s age. If the student is a minor aged between 4 and 17 years and is admitted to a Tier 4 Sponsor License holder school, one would apply for a Tier 4 student visa or a Tier 4 General student visa. To be eligible for a Student Visa in the UK, one must have confirmed admission to a recognized Tier 4 Sponsor institution and score at least 70 points in the UK’s points-based immigration system.

Graduate Visa

In June 2021, the Graduate Visa was introduced to allow international student graduates to look for work in the UK for up to two years after graduating from an RQF Level 7 course. Students can work at any skill level during this period without a minimum threshold salary or even a job sponsorship from employers.

The introduction of this visa has boosted the influx of international students into the UK, who can now access the multi-tier UK industry.

UK Student Visa Fees

The fees for a Standard Visitor visa to the UK are approximately £95 for six months. The standard Home Office fee for a Student visa is £475, along with a £19.20 biometric enrolment fee, totalling £494.20. As an international student, one also needs to pay a healthcare surcharge of £150 annually for the National Health Service (NHS). The Short Term Study Visa costs £97 and £186 for the six-month and the 11-month visa, respectively.

Language Requirements

Irrespective of the length of the course or the duration of study, an essential English language requirement is mandated with a student needing to speak, write and read the English language at the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) at the B1 level for study below degree level and B2 for degree level and above.

One would have appeared for and passed the

  • Secure English Language Test (SELT)
  • Possess GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English or the equivalent, gained through study at a UK school that you began when you were under 18

The English language requirements are waived if you are a national of these countries –

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • UK
  • USA

Documents Required for the UK Student Visa

To apply for a UK student visa, one will have to submit

  • Passport details
  • A recent photograph
  • An unconditional offer of a place on a course offered by a licensed Tier 4 Sponsor, with a ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ (CAS) form.
  • Proof of adequate English language skills, IELTS, and SELT scores or meet the exemption criteria.
  • Proof of financial ability
  • Valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, if engaged in study or research of an ATAS categorized sensitive subject, in the UK.

You may be required to produce your academic qualifications, attend an interview, and give a biometric test, which involves a digital scan of your fingerprints. Depending on your country of origin, you may also be required to have certain medical vaccinations before being issued the visa. Kindly check with the UK mission in your home country for specific requirements.

Using the UK Student Visa

At the port of entry, a UK Border Agency officer may ask the student to produce any of the certificates submitted for the visa process, like the CAS, ATAS, proof of finances, accommodation etc. In the form of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), the actual visa will need to be collected on arrival in the UK. Also, certain nationals may be required to register with the police within seven days of arrival in the UK, depending on the home country.


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