If you’re an international student you’ll probably need a student visa to study in the UK. To find out whether you need a visa to study in the UK simply use our visa checker below, or check the UK Government website.
Read more to find out about the requirements of a student visa and what to do if you need a post-study or graduate visa.
If you need a student visa to study in the UK there are a few things you must have before you apply. You must:
Other visas to consider
If you are 16 or 17 years old and want to study at an independent school (private school for which you pay school fees) you may be eligible for a child student visa instead.
Courses you can study on a Student visa
You must have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed student sponsor, to see the full list of licensed student sponsors see the UK Government website.
Once you have been offered a place on your course your education provider will send you a reference number called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You must enter this CAS reference number on your visa application. You must apply for your visa within 6 months of receiving your CAS.
The following courses are approved to study with a Student visa:
When you should apply for your student visa will depend on whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.
Once you have applied for your student visa and it has been approved you can travel to the UK before your course starts. This can be either up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less or up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months. It is important to note that you must not travel to the UK before the start date given on your visa, no matter when your course starts.
If you have a student visa you can study and work as a student union sabbatical officer. You may also be able to work other part-time jobs, however, this will depend on what you’re studying and whether you’re working in or out of term-time.
Once your application is successful you’ll be told the specifics of what you can and cannot do on a Student visa.
Generally, with a Student visa, you can’t claim benefits and pensions. You cannot work in certain jobs, for example as a professional sportsperson, or be self-employed. You are also unable to study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school).
To see how much your student visa will cost check the UK Government website.
How long you can stay in the UK on a student visa 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. If you want to stay longer in the UK you may be able to extend your visa if you’re eligible. Alternatively, if eligible, you may be able to switch to a Graduate visa to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing your course.
If you have completed your course with a student visa you may be looking for a post study work visa. This is also known as a graduate visa and gives you permission to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing a course in the UK.
You can apply for a Graduate visa if:
You must apply for a graduate visa before your student visa expires. You can apply after your education provider has told the Home Office that you’ve successfully completed the course. You do not have to wait until you’ve graduated or have been given a certificate.
A Graduate visa lasts for 2 years. If you have a PHD or other doctoral qualification, it will last for 3 years. Your visa will start from the day your application is approved.
If you want to stay longer in the UK you can’t extend your Graduate visa. However, you may be able to switch to a different visa such as a work visa.
If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Graduate visa. Generally, with a Graduate visa, you can:
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