FAQs

How do I qualify to travel to the UK as a student?

You must be able to show that you have been accepted on a course of study or for a period of research at an educational establishment that is on the UK's Department for Children Schools and Families Register of Education and Training Providers. You must be able to show that you are going to follow:

  • a recognised full-time degree course, or
  • a period of study and/or research in excess of 6 months where this forms part of an overseas degree course, or

  • a course run during the week involving at least 15 hours of organised daytime study each week, or
  • a full-time course at an independent fee-paying school You must also:
  • be able to pay for your course and support yourself and any dependants, and live in the UK without going into business or getting a job, or needing any help from public funds

  • be able and intend to follow your chosen course, and
  • intend to leave the UK when you complete your studies, if your course of study is below degree level.

If you graduated from a UK university or other educational institution within the last 12 months with a bachelor's degree, master's degree, postgraduate certificate or diploma, or PhD, you may be able to apply to stay in the UK and get a job for an extra year after your degree course finishes, without getting a work permit.

If you successfully complete a degree level course or above, awarded by a Scottish institution, you may be able to apply to live and work in Scotland for up to two years after achieving your qualification under the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme.

Postgraduate doctors and dentists
 

For entry to the UK as a postgraduate doctor or dentist, you will need:

  • a UK degree in medicine or dentistry
  • to have spent at least two years in the UK studying for your medical or dental degree, and
  • a letter from the Postgraduate Dean responsible for your training to confirm that you have been offered a full-time place on a Foundation Programme in the UK.

    You must also:

  • intend to leave the UK after your Foundation Programme, if you have not been given permission to stay on in another employment or self-employment category, and

  • be able to support yourself and any dependants, and live without needing help from public funds.

If a government or international sponsorship agency sponsored your studies at a medical or dental school, you need to have the sponsor's permission to study a Foundation Programme in the UK. If you are a fully qualified doctor or dentist and you want to get a job or take higher specialist training, you will need a work permit..

If you intend to set up in general practice, you will need to meet the requirements for entry to the UK as a self-employed person.

What is a visa?

A visa is a certificate that is put into your passport or travel document by an Entry Clearance Officer at a British mission overseas. The visa gives you permission to enter the UK.

If you have a valid UK visa, we will not normally refuse you entry to the UK unless your circumstances have changed, or you gave false information or did not tell us important facts when you applied for your visa.

When you arrive in the UK, an Immigration Officer may ask you questions, so take all relevant documents in your hand luggage.

Do I need a visa to study in the UK?

You will need a visa if you:

  • are not an EEA national
  • are stateless (you don't have a nationality)
  • hold a non-national travel document, or
  • hold a passport issued by an authority that is not recognised in the UK

If you do not intend to work or stay in the UK for more than six months, you might wish to consider entering as a student visitor. More information is available on this.

You do not need an entry clearance as a student visitor if you are a non-visa national but, you will have to satisfy the Immigration Officer that you qualify for entry to study when you arrive in the UK. You must be able to show that you have been accepted on a course of study at an educational establishment that is on the Register of Education and Training Providers. They will then give you permission to stay in the UK for up to six months.

If you have any doubts about whether you qualify for entry, you should apply for a visa before you travel to the UK.

How do I apply for a visa?

You can apply in a number of ways, for example by post, by courier, in person and online. The visa section will tell you about the ways in which you can apply.

Some visa sections will only accept applications made online.

If you cannot apply online you will need to fill in a visa application form (VAF 3 - Student). You should apply for a student visa in the country of which you are a national or where you legally live.

In some countries, if you are applying for a visa to stay in the UK for more than six months, you may need to be tested for active tuberculosis before we will accept your application. You can find out if you need to be tested by using

What will I need to make my application?

You will need to make your application online or fill in the following visa application form:

you will also need to the following:

  • Your passport or travel document.
  • A recent passport-sized (45mm x 35mm), colour photograph of yourself. This should be:
    • taken against a light-coloured background

    • clear and of good quality, and not framed or backed
    • printed on normal photographic paper, and
    • full face and without sunglasses, hat or other head covering unless you wear this for cultural or religious reasons (but the face must not be covered)
  • The visa fee. This cannot be refunded and you must normally pay it in the local currency of the country where you are applying.

  • Supporting documents relevant to your application.

What is 'biometric' information?

In some countries currently - and in all countries by April 2008 - you will need to provide 'biometric' information as part of the visa application process. This biometric information consists of scans of all 10 of your fingers and a full-face digital photograph. You will have to go to the nearest VAC in person to provide this biometric information. In those countries where there is no VAC, you will need to go to the British mission. Your visa applications will not be processed until you have provided the necessary biometric information. The finger scans are electronic so staff do not need to use any ink, liquid or chemicals. You will have your digital photograph taken at the same time and the whole procedure should take no more than five minutes to complete. You should make sure that you do not have any decoration (such as henna), or any cuts or other markings on your fingertips before having your finger scans. You should also make sure that if you have any cuts and bruises on your face, they have healed or disappeared before you have your photograph taken. Digital photographs must be of your full face and you should not wear sunglasses, a hat or any other head covering (unless you wear it for cultural or religious reasons but the face must not be covered).

What supporting documents should I include with my application?

You should include all the documents you can to show that you qualify for entry to the UK as a student. If you do not, we may refuse your application.

As a guide, you should include:

  • any relevant diplomas or educational certificates that you have
  • a letter from the university, college or school confirming that you have been accepted on a course of study and/or a period of research in the UK, and a statement of charges for the course and/or period of research (if appropriate)

  • if you are following a certain type of postgraduate study, an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) Certificate

  • evidence of government sponsorship (if appropriate)
  • bank statements, payslips or other evidence to show that you can pay for your stay and your course of studies in the UK, and

  • if you are being privately sponsored (for example, by a college in the UK) a letter from your sponsor giving details of how they will support you during your studies, and evidence that they can do so.

We will refuse your application if we find that any documents are forged.

What is the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)?

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) was introduced in November 2007. In common with other Governments around the world, the British Government is working hard to stop the spread of knowledge and skills that could be used in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery. The ATAS is designed to ensure that people who are applying to study certain sensitive subjects in the UK do not have links to WMD programmes.

If you intend to undertake postgraduate studies and/or research which lead to a Doctorate or Masters degree in certain designated subjects, you will have to get and Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before you apply for your visa.

What will happen when I make my application?

The Entry Clearance Officer will try to make a decision using your application form and the supporting documents you have provided. If this is not possible, they will need to interview you.

Please check your visa when you get it. You should make sure that:

  • your personal details are correct
  • it correctly states the purpose for which you want to come to the UK, and
  • it is valid for the date on which you want to travel. (You can ask for it to be post-dated for up to three months if you do not plan to travel immediately.)

If you think there is anything wrong with your visa, contact the visa section immediately.

What are public funds?

Under the Immigration Rules, if you want to travel to the UK you must be able to support yourself and live without claiming certain state benefits.

You can find more information about public funds in the Immigration Directorate Instructions (IDIs) and Immigration Rules on the Border and Immigration Agency website

Can I extend my stay as a student?

If you enter the UK with a student visa or prospective student visa, or if you want to study on a course at degree level or higher, you can apply to the Border and Immigration Agency. Their contact details are at end of this guidance. The Border and Immigration Agency will charge you a non-refundable fee for any application to extend your stay in the UK.

If you enter the UK with a student visitor visa, you will not be allowed to extend your stay.

Can I work?

You can take part-time or holiday work, but you must not:

  • work for more than 20 hours a week during term time unless your placement is part of your studies, has been agreed with your educational institution and leads to a degree or qualification awarded by a nationally recognised examining body

  • do business, be self-employed or provide services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer, or

  • work full-time in a permanent job.

Can I switch to work permit employment when I am in the UK?

You may be able to switch if:

  • you have completed a recognised degree course at either a UK publicly-funded institution of further or higher education or an approved private educational institution that has satisfactory records of enrolment and attendance

  • you hold a valid work permit for employment
  • you have been sponsored by a government or agency and you have their written permission to remain in the UK in a different category, and

  • you have not broken immigration law.

Can I bring my husband, wife or civil partner and children with me?

Your husband, wife or civil partner and any of your children under 18 can come to the UK with you during your studies, as long as you can support them without needing any help from public funds.

What do my dependants need to make an application?

Your dependants will need to make their application online or fill in the following visa application form:

They will also need the following:

  • Their passport or travel document.
  • A recent passport-sized (45mm x 35mm),colour photograph of themselves. This should be:
    • taken against a light coloured background

    • clear and of good quality, and not framed or backed
    • printed on normal photographic paper, and
    • full face and without sunglasses, hat or other head covering unless they wear this for cultural or religious reasons (but the face must not be covered).

  • The visa fee. This cannot be refunded and they must normally pay it in the local currency of the country where they are applying.
  • TEvidence of their relationship to you.
  • TEvidence that you can support them without needing any help from public funds.
  • TEvidence of the course of study your are doing or are going to do in the UK.
  • TA copy of the relevant pages from your passport, showing your permission to stay if you are already in the UK.

Will my husband, wife or civil partner be allowed to work?

Your husband, wife or civil partner will be allowed to work in the UK if we give you permission to stay in the country for at least twelve months.

Will I need to register with the Police?

Nationals of certain countries are required to register with the police if they are entering the UK for more than six months. Your visa will state if this is necessary.

In London, police registration is made at the Overseas Visitors Registration Office, (OVRO), Brandon House, 180 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1LH, Tel. 020 7230 1208. If you are not in London you can register at the nearest police station specified as a registration office. You will be charged for the initial registration certificate.

Can I go to the UK to arrange my studies?

You can travel to the UK as a prospective student for up to six months to arrange your studies. You will need to show that:

  • you intend to enroll on a course of study within six months of arriving in the UK
  • you can pay for your course, support yourself and your dependants, and live without working or needing any help from public funds, and
  • you intend to leave the UK when you finish your studies or when your permission to stay ends if you do not qualify to stay in the UK as a student.

Note: you should not buy a ticket, or pay all or part of the cost of a study course if your visa application being delayed or refused would mean that you lost your money.

When should I apply?

You should apply in good time for your entry clearance so that you are not delayed in getting into the UK. However, you cannot have your clearance post-dated by more than three months. It can get very busy in visa sections, especially over the summer