As an international student (non EEA/Swiss) coming to study a full-time course of more than six months in the UK, you must obtain Entry Clearance (a visa) under Tier 4 (General) Student before beginning your course. If you do not have Entry Clearance when you arrive, you will not be allowed to enter the UK.
Applying for a visa is a complex issue, and in this article we’re going to answer a few questions to ensure that the whole process goes smoothly. Before you start, have a look through the information and application guidance included here.
1. How much does it cost?
This is, of course, an important factor. Applying for a visa to study from outside the UK currently costs £310. It is important to remember that applying for such a visa means incurring costs for each of your dependents too, and that costs exactly the same. This needs to be taken into account if you have family. You’ll have to pay £310 for a visa for each of them.
2. Are there rules about family members coming with me?
There are very clear requirements and parameters regarding bringing family members to the UK if you are relying on a study visa. Bringing your spouse and dependents is only possible if your course lasts for more than 12 months. If it lasts less than 12 months you cannot bring your dependents with you into the country on a study visa.
It is also important to remember that both parents have to be present. So if you have children when you want to come into the UK on a study visa, both the mother and father have to be part of the party.
3. Do they need to know about my offer?
You will have to show that you have an unconditional offer for the institution that you’re applying for. The institution that you’re applying for will make it clear to the Borders agency that you do have a confirmation of an unconditional offer. You will not be able to apply for a visa unless you have one of these.
It is for this reason that you have to be very careful how you plan your course of study and your time in the UK. Bearing in mind that you have to have an unconditional offer, it should make your planning simpler. To repeat, you cannot have a visa unless you have an unconditional offer for a UK institution. You have to have the statement from the University to help you actually fill in the visa application form, so there is no movement on this matter.
4. Which immigration documents do I need?
As you might expect, you’ll need to show your passport. This is essential if you want to get a study visa application through. You will also need a biometric residence permit if you’ve had a visa before and it has not been returned. These documents are essential and there is no compromise on this issue.
5. Once I have made my application, what do I do?
Unfortunately, it’s a waiting game. Waiting times vary and can last from a few days to up to 3 months. This is why it is important that you plan out your study entry as carefully as possible. On a study visa, you are not allowed to enter a course of study late. Take the time to plan your entry into the course around your visa application.
As mentioned earlier, applying for a study visa from outside of the UK can be quite complex- but it is by no means impossible. It’s important that you plan your application carefully and then bear in mind that there are a number of rules. If you’re planning to bring your family into the country when you study, take into account the restrictions regarding length of study time. In the end, it’s all about preparation and respecting the requirements of the UK concerning international students.