International students from outside the UK or EU must apply for a student visa. You can only apply for a student visa if you intend to study a full-time degree course in the UK. Student visas are not issued for part-time courses. Your eligibility is calculated using a points-based rules system called a Tier 4 Student Visa.
Student Visa Rules – An Introduction
You need 40 points to apply for a student visa. This is achieved by:
1. Course confirmation: you must receive a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a university approved by UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI).
All universities must have been given or applied for Highly Trusted Status (HTS) on the UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor list (30 points). ‘A rated’ colleges can also issue CAS numbers. The ‘A’ rating is a transitional rating for 12 months and all ‘A rated’ colleges must apply for HTS status within this 12 month transition period.
All universities on the Study London website have Highly Trusted Status (HTS). You can view the London university profiles for more information about each London university, or use the course search to find the right course for you.
2. Funding: you must provide evidence of funding to pay for both your course tuition fees and your monthly living costs (10 points).
Tuition fees are on average £12,000 per year but can range from £8,000 to £36,000. You will also need to show that you have £1,265 for each month of your studies (up to a maximum of nine months) to pay for living costs if you study in inner London. Therefore, if you will be studying in inner London for a course lasting nine months or more, the maximum amount that you will need is £11,385.
This applies to all students looking to study in London. You will be considered to be studying ‘in London’ if you are studying at the University of London, or at institutions wholly or partly within London, or in areas on the border of London such as parts of Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey. If you are not sure if your institution is considered to be ‘in London’ you should check with your university before you make your Tier 4 application.
Visit the UK Visa and Immigration website to check the full eligibility criteria for a UK study visa. You can also read further guidance on the UKCISA website.
3. Visa Application: In order to submit your Tier 4 student visa application, please visit the UK Visa & Immigration website to complete the online application form. International students from all countries (apart from North Korea) have to submit the visa application online. You will also need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.
4. Immigration Health Service Charge: All nationals from outside of Europe coming to live in the UK for longer than six months are required to pay a ‘health surcharge’ in order to gain access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The health surcharge is £150 per year (or £75 for 6 months or less) for students and is payable when you submit your visa application on-line. Visa applicants need to pay up-front for the total period of their UK visa. For further information, read our Health Advice for International Students .
Remember, you can only apply for a visa once you have been given a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. Check you are eligible for a UK Student Visa but do not apply until after you have been accepted onto a course. Your chosen university can guide you through the visa process once you have been accepted onto a course.