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How to Apply for UK Student Visa (Step by Step Guide)

If you have been offered a place on a higher education course but don’t live in the UK, EEA, EU or Switzerland yet, then you need a student visa to travel to live and study in the UK.

There are quite a few types of student visas for the UK, but for full time university study you usually need a Tier 4 (General) student visa. Currently, a UK student visa costs around £348 if you apply outside the UK, and you’ll also will be required to pay a healthcare surcharge; the cost of which depends on your home country.

What you should know about UK student visa application process

Always keep in mind that you won’t be able to start your Tier 4 (General) visa application more than three months before your course start date. When you’ve received an offer from the university you applied to, follow these steps on how to apply for your UK student visa:

  • Accept your offer: go ahead and pay any necessary deposits for your course or accommodation to the University. When you’ve paid that, the University will send you  a unique Confirmation as Acceptance of Studies (CAS) reference number
  • Gather your documents: for the student application you will need proof of being able to support yourself financially whether on your own or through a Guardian support, your CAS details, and where necessary an ATAS certificate.
  • Complete the online application: during the application you need to book your visa application center appointment for your biometrics to be taken and to show your necessary documentation
  • Attend your visa appointment: go submit your supporting documents and get your visa sticker permitting travel into the UK
  • Receive your result: usually you will get your visa decision in around three weeks time, but this varies depending on your home country
  • Collect your BRP: within ten days of your arrival in the UK you should receive (or go collect) your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which contains your full visa

UK student dependent visa

Rules regarding bringing dependents to the UK to live with you are very strict, and as a student, it is quite unlikely you will be eligible unless your course is full-time,  mostly at a postgraduate level, and for nine months or more.

In the case you are granted and are therefore able to bring dependents with you, your financial proof will also have to include how you are going to support the dependents, in addition to yourself.

UK student visa requirements

At some point during the different stages of securing your UK student visa, you’ll be asked to provide the following:

  • Current valid passport (valid for more than six months)
  • Proof of funds sufficient to cover for a year’s tuition and living costs
  • Tuberculosis test results if need be. 
  • CAS number, and information such as your current language test results

ATAS for UK visa 

Whether or not you need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certification is dependent on the level of study you are coming to pursue in the UK , and also the subject matter of your degree.

Postgraduate students studying sensitive topics in the areas of technology and science may be asked to get an ATAS in order to apply for a student visa. Good news is, your chosen university will be able to advise if your course needs an ATAS or not.

If you’re a freshman yet to travel for studies in the UK on a visa and need an ATAS certificate, please endeavour to get this before applying for a Tier 4 visa. You can apply for an ATAS certificate up to 9 months before your course starting date, however it is only valid for a period of 6 months so you must complete your Tier 4 visa application within this time frame.

Being refused for a UK student visa

Majority of the reasons for UK student visa refusals revolve around finances. You may not have shown sufficient proof that you have enough money, or the funds have been held for 28 days.

If you feel like there is a way to fix  quickly, then we advise you to reapply. That also means you will need to be given a new CAS number from the university you have chosen, and pay any visa fees yet again.

UK student visa working hours

Holders of Tier 4 (General) UK student visa, particularly international students studying at the bachelor’s level and above are eligible to work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during the holidays or vacations. This includes all voluntary, paid and unpaid work.

Currently, foreign students from the EEA, EU and Switzerland are able to work in the UK without restrictions whatsoever.

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