The Student visa is required for all international students who want to study English in the UK for longer than 11 months. It is also for students who want to study other subjects in the UK for longer than six months.
Anyone who wants to study an English language course for between six and eleven months can do so on a Short-term study visa. Anyone who wants to study any subject in the UK for less than six months can study as a visitor.
The application cost is GBP363, plus GBP490+ fee for the immigration health surcharge (see below).
All students who apply for a visa for longer than six months must pay the immigration health surcharge as part of the online visa application. They will then be able to access national health services in the UK during their stay. This includes free doctors appointments and hospital services. For a visa that is valid for between six and 12 months, the cost is GBP470. The cost increases with the length of the visa. Use the government’s immigration health surcharge calculator.
To apply for a Student visa, the student must provide evidence that they already reached an intermediate level of English language. Both the test provider and the test centre must be approved by the UK government, in order for the evidence to be eligible in a UK visa application. The UK government calls this a Secure English Language Test (SELT).
The student’s English language level must be CEFR B1 if they plan to study a course below degree level and CEFR B2 if they plan to study a degree level course or higher. These levels are lower-intermediate and upper-intermediate, as defined by The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
There are five test providers that offer approved tests for visa application purposes:
Not all the tests offered by these providers are accepted. To meet the requirements for a Student visa application:
> Find out more about Secure English Language Tests at GOV.UK.
Students do not need to provide evidence of their English language level for a Student visa application if:
After submitting the application form and required documents, most students need to book an appointment at their nearest UK visa application centre to provider biometric data: their photo and fingerprints. EEA nationals do not need to attend an application centre if they have a biometric chip in their passport. Instead, they scan their passport through an app.
Most visa application centres are now open. Visit GOV.UK to find a centre and check its status. If local visa application centres are closed due to Covid-19, it is still possible to start the process online. See ukcisa.org.uk for details.
Students may be required to attend an interview. Students should check their emails regularly, including the ‘junk’ folder to ensure they do not miss the invitation. Students can contact their Sponsor institution for advice if they are preparing for an interview.
Students can usually expect a response within three weeks. Some visa application centres offer a priority service for an additional fee, though service times are not guaranteed. Students should apply for their visa at the earliest possible opportunity, up to six months before their planned travel date.