You can apply for a Student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:
- have been offered a place on a course by a licensed student sponsor
- have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course - the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
- can speak, read, write and understand English
- have consent from your parents if you’re 16 or 17 - you’ll need evidence of this when you apply
If you’re 16 or 17 and you want to study at an independent school in the UK, you may be eligible for a Child Student visa instead.
This visa has replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa.
When to apply
When you can apply depends on whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.
Applying from outside the UK
The earliest you can apply for a visa is 6 months before you start your course.
You’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.
Applying from inside the UK
The earliest you can apply is 3 months before your course starts.
You must apply before your current visa expires. Your new course must begin within 28 days of your current visa expiring.
You’ll usually get a decision within 8 weeks.
How long you can stay
How long you can stay depends on the length of your course and what study you’ve already completed in the UK.
If you’re 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 5 years. If it’s below degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 2 years.
Staying longer in the UK
You may be able to:
- extend your visa if you’re eligible, for example to continue your studies in the UK
- switch to a Student visa from another visa if you’re already in the UK
- switch to a Graduate visa to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing your course
When you can travel to the UK
You can arrive before your course starts. This can be either:
- up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less
- up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months
You must not travel to the UK before the start date given on your visa, no matter when your course starts.
- £490 to apply for a Student visa from outside the UK
- £490 to extend or switch to a Student visa from inside the UK
You must pay the visa fee for each person that joins you.
You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.
How much you pay depends on how long your visa lasts. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.
Your partner and children
You may be able to bring your partner and children (‘dependants’).
What you can and cannot do
- work as a student union sabbatical officer
You may be able to work - how much depends on what you’re studying and whether you’re working in or out of term-time.
- claim public funds (benefits) and pensions
- work in certain jobs, for example as a professional sportsperson or sports coach
- be self-employed
- study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school)
If your application is successful, you’ll be told what you can and cannot do on a Student visa.