UK student visa
Applying for a UK student visa? Here’s what international students should know. Source: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Aspiring to study abroad in the UK? You’re probably aware that the government will implement a points-based immigration system from 2021 onwards for students applying for a the UK student visa, as announced by the Home Office in September. This new Student route replaces the Tier 4 (General) student visa on Oct. 5, 2020.

The Student route will be open to an unlimited number of international students, including those from Europe coming to study after the Brexit transition period ends. Here’s what you should know as an international student:

How do I qualify for a UK student visa?

International applicants must achieve the required 70 points to be granted a visa to study at a UK university. They will achieve the required points if they can demonstrate that they: 

  • have been offered a place on a course
  • can speak, read, write and understand English
  • have enough money to support themselves and pay for their course

When should I apply for a UK student visa?

The earliest you can apply for a student visa is six months before you start your course when applying from outside the UK – up from the three-month window previously under Tier 4. You’ll usually get a decision on your visa within three weeks.

If you’re applying from within the UK, the earliest you can apply is three months before your course starts. Do note that you must apply before your current visa expires. notes that your new course must begin within 28 days of your current visa expiring; you can expect to get a decision within eight weeks.

When can I travel to the UK?

You can arrive in the UK up to one week before your course starts, if it lasts six months or less; and up to one month before, if your course lasts more than six months.

How long can I stay in the UK?

How long you can stay depends on the length of your course and how much of it you’ve already completed. “If you’re 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to five years. If it’s below degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to two years,” according to

Can I extend my student visa?

You may be able to extend your visa if needed or if you’re eligible, such as if you want to continue your studies in the UK. For more details, click here.

How much does the student visa cost?

International students can expect to fork out 348 pounds if you’re applying for a student visa from outside the UK, and 475 pounds to extend or switch to a student visa from within the UK

Can I still work with this new student visa?

International students can study and work as a student union sabbatical officer, but adds that, “You may be able to work, but how much depends on what you’re studying and whether you’re working in or out of term-time.” They add, “If your application is successful, you’ll be told what you can and cannot do on a student visa.”

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