A UK student Visa is an important document that will open the doors to a variety of higher education institutions for international students. The recent “Brexit” controversy has created a bit of uncertainty over visa regulations. However, the UK Government has assured the people that there would be no change to the visa policies at present.
Types of UK Student Visa
There are two types of UK student visa:
- Short-term study visa: As the term implies, this visa is valid for a short duration, generally up to 6 months but the validity can be extended to 11 months for English language courses. This type of visa is applicable for most of the short diploma courses.
- Tier 4 student visa: For the longer duration courses, students will have to ensure that their institution or university has a Tier 4 Sponsor License. Children in the age group of 4-17 years can apply for a Tier 4 (Child) student visa whereas students above 18 years of age must apply for the Tier 4 (General) student visa. Consult the official website for all supporting documents as specified in Tier 4.
UK Student Visa Requirements
Once you have been accepted by your desired university for the program of your choice, the course provider might be willing to help you in the process of applying for a UK Visa. Check with the course provider for clarity on this matter. Remember to start preparing several days ahead as the visa processing times may vary. Students can apply for UK Visa three months before the course commencement date.
The UK student visa application procedure follows the Points-Based System (PBS). You can meet all the requirements for the UK Student Visa by providing the following:
- A recent passport-sized photograph
- Passport details
- Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) form signed by your course provider is worth 30 points
- You will have to attempt and pass one of the Secure English Language Tests (SELT) as proof of your English speaking abilities. You will be exempt from giving this exam, if you’re from an English speaking country or if you have completed a course in an English speaking country that is equivalent to a UK degree.
- Adequate proof of financial support (bank account statements, letters from your sponsor) during your stay in UK which is worth 10 points
- Transcripts or documents highlighting your academic achievements
- Biometric tests and vaccination records depending on your country of origin
An international student can apply online for the Tier 4 (General) student visa after going through the guidelines given on the UK government website.
UK Student Visa Fees
At present, the fee for the Tier 4 (General) student visa is about £335. An additional fee of £335 per person would be charged in case of dependents. In addition, you will be required to pay £150 on an annual basis in order to enjoy the facilities provided by the National Health Service (NHS) during your stay in UK.
The fees for the Short Term Study Visa are £93 for six months and £179 for 11months.
Using your UK Student visa
Your UK student visa will be valid for up to four months beyond the duration of your program. So, if the duration of your program is 12 months then you can stay in the UK for 16 months but cannot extend your stay beyond that.
Also, remember to fully immunise yourself prior to your entry in UK. Carry your immunisation records and academic records in your hand baggage. You might also have to register yourself with the police within seven days of your entry into the country.
Application Form VAF9 – PBS Migrant Guidance Notes
In case you are unable to submit the UK visa application form online, you can fill and submit the VAF9 form at the nearest UK Embassy. Be sure to carefully read the guidance notes available on the UK Government website before you fill the VAF9 form.
PBS Appendix 8 (General) Student
The PBS Appendix 8 (General) Student has to be filled and sent along with the VAF9 form. Please read the guide which lists the supporting documents. This guide is available in English as well as in simple Chinese.
Documents required for the Visa Application Process
You will have to provide the following documents when you apply for a UK visa:
- Your passport or travel documents
- Proof of your financial status (bank account statements)
- Proof of parental or guardian consent in case you are below 18 years of age
- Proof of the relationship between you and your parent/guardian
- Results of your tuberculosis test, if you come from a country where you have to take the test
- The visa fee receipt
You will be required to submit proofs of your financial position during the visa application process. Here are a few pointers:
- Ensure that the money required for your tuition fees and maintenance remains in your account for a consecutive period of 28 days. Ensure that your bank balance doesn’t drop below this amount for even a day during this period. If it does then your visa application might get rejected.
- The bank statement that you provide should just be about a month old from the date of your visa application.