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how to apply for a uk student visa

Once you've secured a place at one of the amazing universities in the UK, you may have to organise a student visa if you're from a country outside the European Union (EU).

Getting a student visa for the UK might be one of the trickier things you'll need to sort out, so our advice is to start early and have a good old read of the websites we've found for you to get the most up to date information, as rules on getting a student visa to enter the UK do change.

Do I need a visa to study in the UK?

The good news is that if you're from a country within the European Union (EU) or a Swiss national you don't need a visa to enter the UK.

This guide explains how Swiss nationals and members of the EEA and their family can enter, live and work in the UK.

In the following circumstances you'll need to secure a visa to enter the UK, sorry!

  • You're from a country that's not in the EU
  • You're not a Swiss national
  • You're applying for a course lasting six to 11 months
  • You're applying as a prospective student
  • If you're applying as a parent from a non-EEA country and want to stay in the UK whilst your child is studying, click here for more details.
  • You're stateless (you don't have a nationality)
  • You hold a non-national travel document (a travel document which doesn't give you the nationality of the country that issued it)
  • You hold a passport issued by an authority that is not recognised in the UK

Requirements differ depending on which country you are from and the rules can change from year to year, so click here to find out what you'll need to do to get a student visa.


Coming to the UK as a ''student visitor''

If you want to come to the UK to do a short course during your visit, you can apply as a student visitor. If you choose to do this, the period of time that you intend to be in the UK must not be more than six months, or 11 months if you're studying an English Language course.

You need to be 18 or over to apply for this kind of student visa, and it's important to remember that you'll be a lot more restricted than if you come to the UK as a "regular student". For example, you won't be able to have a part time job or take work placements or internships.

Click here to find out whether you're eligible for a student visitor visa and what restrictions you may face.


Where do I apply for a student visa in my home country?

The UK has visa operation services around the world through visa sections at UK embassies, high commissions and consulates. Click here and follow the instructions to find out the nearest visa office to you.


What type of student visa do I need?

There are different kinds of student visas available, and the one that's right for you depends on things like your age and the length of time you wish to stay. You can read more about it here.


Visa application fees

Visa application fees can be paid in local currency and dependents are charged the same fee as you unless stated. A breakdown of the fees can be found here.


Visa application forms

You can find the visa application form and guidance notes you need here.


Can I bring my family?

Your family or 'dependents' as they are called refers to your husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner and children aged under 18 years old.

Students who are sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at NFQ level 7 or above which lasts 12 months or more can bring their partners and children with them. You can also bring your family if you're a government-sponsored student following a course that's longer than six months.

If you need a visa to enter the country, remember your dependents will as well and you'll need to make sure you can support them (or that they can support themselves) without any help from public funds. For more information on family members coming into the UK click here.

For more information such as who qualifies as a dependent and what paperwork you'll have to present click here.

You'll also need to arrange suitable accommodation for your family, see our 'Student Accommodation in the UK' section for more info on this.


Do I need a visa to travel around Europe?

If you want to travel around Europe during your stay in the UK, we recommend you check out the website of the UK embassy of the country you want to visit. The website should tell you whether you need to get a visa before traveling to your chosen country.

If you're not from the EEA you might need to get a Schengen visa, which allows you to visit certain countries within the EEA with just one visa. Check out the UKCISA website for more information on this kind of visa.


Post Study Work visa

If you are on a Tier 4 student visas and want to remain in the UK after graduation you will need to qualify for a Tier 2 visa. The Tier 2 visa is a points-based system, for further details see the Tier 2 (General) visa page.

The government has also established a new Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa route, which is an option for graduates who want to work on and develop business ideas whilst in the UK. Applicants for the Entrepreneurs visa have to meet strict requirements, for further details see the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa page.


Do I have to register with the police?

After arriving in the UK, you may need to register your stay with the police, depending on your country of origin. If you do need to register, this requirement will be written in your passport and you'll need to register within seven days of arriving in the UK. Click here to check whether you will have to register with the police, what documents you need to take and where to go for help.