International students from outside the UK or EU must apply for a student visa. You can only apply for a student visa if you intend to study a full-time degree course in the UK. Student visas are not issued for part-time courses. Your eligibility is calculated using a points-based rules system called a Tier 4 Student Visa.
Student Visa Rules – An Introduction
You need 40 points to apply for a student visa. This is achieved by:
1. Course confirmation: you must receive a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a university approved by UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI).
All universities must have been given or applied for Highly Trusted Status (HTS) on the UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor list (30 points). 'A rated' colleges can also issue CAS numbers. The 'A' rating is a transitional rating for 12 months and all 'A rated' colleges must apply for HTS status within this 12 month transition period.
All universities on the Study London website have Highly Trusted Status (HTS). You can view the London university profiles for more information about each London university, or use the course search to find the right course for you.
2. Funding: you must provide evidence of funding to pay for both your course tuition fees and your monthly living costs (10 points).
Tuition fees are on average £12,000 per year but can range from £8,000 to £36,000. You will also need to show that you have £1,020 for each month of your studies (up to a maximum of nine months) to pay for living costs if you study in inner London. Therefore, if you will be studying in inner London for a course lasting nine months or more, the maximum amount that you will need is £9,180.
Note: if you make your Tier 4 application on or after 12 November 2015 this amount will increase to £1,265 per month. Therefore if your course lasts for nine months or more you will have to show £11,385.
If you study in outer London you need £820 a month, up to a maximum of £7,380 for a course lasting nine months or more.
3. Visa Application: In order to submit your Tier 4 student visa application, please visit the UK Visa & Immigration website to complete the online application form. International students from all countries (apart from North Korea) have to submit the visa application online. You will also need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.
4. Immigration Health Service Charge: All nationals from outside of Europe coming to live in the UK for longer than six months are required to pay a ‘health surcharge’ in order to gain access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The health surcharge is £150 per year (or £75 for 6 months or less) for students and is payable when you submit your visa application on-line. Visa applicants need to pay up-front for the total period of their UK visa. For further information, read our Health Advice for International Students .
Remember, you can only apply for a visa once you have been given a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. Check you are eligible for a UK Student Visa but do not apply until after you have been accepted onto a course. Your chosen university can guide you through the visa process once you have been accepted onto a course.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I work while I am studying in the UK?
You can work for up to 20 hours a week during your studies and full-time during your holidays to help support your studies. This only applies if you are studying a degree level course at a UK higher education institution for longer than 6 months. The university or college must be listed on the Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) list and the list of recognised bodies. Find out more information about working in the UK during your studies and after you graduate.
When Can I Apply?
You will need to be offered the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your chosen university before you can apply for a visa. You can only apply for your visa three months before the start date of your course. This means, if your course starts at the end of September, you will receive your CAS around the end of June.
Can my family come to the UK with me?
You can bring your partner and children to the UK as your Tier 4 dependant if you are a government-sponsored student and your course is longer than six months or you are doing a postgraduate level course of 12 months or longer at a publicly-funded Higher Education Institution or a 'recognised body'.
You cannot bring your family to the UK as a Tier 4 dependant if you are studying an English language course, a course which is below degree level or and undergraduate course (except if you are a government-sponsored student).
For further information, visit the UKCISA website.
How much does the Tier 4 student visa cost?
If you are applying from outside the UK, the cost of the visa is £322 (plus the Immigration Health Service Charge).
If you are already in the UK, you can apply by post for £439 (plus the Immigration Health Service Charge) or in person for £839 (plus the Immigration Health Service Charge).
Who can I contact with questions?
All universities in London have trained visa advisors who are able to answer your questions about the Tier 4 student visa and guide you through the application process. You can contact London's universities directly through this website. You can find out more about each university through the university profiles and simply click on 'contact' to send your message.
More Frequently Asked Questions
We have answered more frequently asked questions on the Tier 4 student visa on our blog post 'The Tier 4 UK Student Visa explained'.
Tip - It is very important that you do not travel to the UK without a valid student visa. Watch the video below, visit the UK Visa and Immigration website and contact the British Embassy or Consulate in your country for advice.