This article on the new UK student visa was updated by the Great British Mag content team on 19 January 2022
On 5 October 2020, the UK government replaced the Tier 4 visa for international students and switched to a student visa for international students and EU students applying to study in the UK.
If you live within the EU, EEA, Switzerland or elsewhere in the world and want to move to the UK to study for six months or more then you will need to apply for the new student visa.
Will I need to change my Tier 4 visa to a student visa?
If before January 2021 you have been on a Tier 4 (General), Tier 4 (Child) visa or are a student from the EU, then you will not need to switch to the new student visa. Only those applying on or after 1 January 2021 will need to apply for the new points-based visa.
Advantages of the new student visa
Disadvantages of the new student visa
You can apply six months in advance, rather than three months
Students from the EEA will now also need to apply for the student visa
The eight-year studying limit for postgraduates has been removed
The Immigration Health Surcharge is more expensive.
You will be able to work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years, or 3 years if you are a PhD graduate
The amount of money required to prove you can support yourself has increased
GCSE and A level qualifications now count towards proof of English
You may still be asked to attend a credibility interview
Those already in the UK under long-term visas will be able to apply for a student visa without leaving the country
Time limits to studying in the UK have not changed for undergraduates.
You will only need to provide the necessary English language documentation once
You still cannot switch universities without applying for a new visa first
You can now provide digital bank statements instead of paper ones
If you have a track record of compliance, you will not be routinely asked to supply academic qualifications used to obtain your sponsor.
How many points do I need to secure a UK student visa?
If you want to study in the UK, you will need 70 points under the new student visa. These points can be achieved by showing proof of an offer from an approved school or university, showing that you can speak English and proving you can financially support yourself throughout your studies.
How much does a UK student visa cost?
Applying for a student visa from outside the UK costs £348. It costs £475 to extend or switch to a student visa from inside the UK and you may need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric fingerprints and photo taken.
You will also have to pay a healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Immigration Health Surcharge for students has gone up from £300 per year to £470 per year. Read more about healthcare in the UK here.
How will the new student visa be administered?
If your student visa application is successful, you’ll get either:
- a biometric residence permit if you come from outside the EU.
- a digital immigration status which you can view and prove online, if you come from within the EU.
How long can I stay in the UK with a student visa?
Under the new visa, the UK government has removed the limit on studying postgraduate courses. And if you are going to complete an undergraduate or postgraduate programme, you will be entitled to apply for the Graduate Immigration Route, which will allow you to work or look for work in the UK at any skill level for two years (three years for PhD students) after graduating.
Once you have found a skilled job, you will be able to apply for a Tier 2 skilled work visas.
What paperwork do I need to apply for a student visa?
You can apply for a student visa from inside or outside of the UK. To apply for a student visa you need:
- a current passport or other valid travel documents
- CAS letter from your course provider
- proof you have enough money to support yourself through your studies
- Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, if required
- consent from parents or other legal guardians if you’re under 18
- proof of your relationship to your parent or guardian if you’re under 18
- a tuberculosis test result
- sponsor’s written content
*If you are from Afghanistan, you do not need to provide the full range of documents required under this route if you do not have them due to circumstantial reasons. If you do not have these documents then you must explain why you cannot provide a normally required document by drafting a letter submitting your reasons and using the document upload function when completing your application.
Can I work if I am on a student visa?
Under the student visa, you will still be allowed to work part-time, participate in internships and do voluntary work. Typically, students can work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during holiday periods.
You cannot start a business, become self-employed or work as an entertainer or professional spokesman.
Furthermore, if you qualify for the Graduate Immigration Route you will be able to work or look for work in the UK at any skill level for two years as an undergraduate or postgraduate and for three years as a PhD students after graduating.
How will the new student visa affect students from the EU?
If you are an EU student arriving before 31 December 2020, you should apply for the Settlement Scheme as soon as possible. You have until 30 June 2021 to apply.
EU citizens who do not qualify under the EU Settlement Scheme, and will be arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021 need to apply for a student visa. The Home Office has published a handy guide on the new system, aimed at EU students.
Under the new visa students from the EU will need to submit a picture via a smartphone app which will be used as digital ID to prove your status as an overseas student in the UK.
The UK Home Office may also ask for you to prove you can financially support yourself and have the relevant academic qualification for your chosen course.
What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme allows citizens of the European Union (EU) who currently live in the UK to remain in the UK after Brexit, if they have applied before the 30 June 2021 deadline.
Can I still bring my family under the new student visa?
Yes, you can if you are a:
- full-time student on a postgraduate course that lasts 9 months or more
- are a government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months
- student on the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
Those that qualify as your dependents include:
- Husband, wife or civil partner
- Unmarried or same-sex partner
- Child under 18 years old
If your dependant is 16 or 17 on the application date, you will need to prove:
- their address and proof that they live with you
- that you support them financially if they do not live with you
Does this visa change effect students doing language or short courses?
You can still enrol on a 11 month English language programme or a six month study programme under the Short-term Study visa route, and students who have been granted a visa or leave to enter the UK as a visitor (for example, for tourism or to visit family) can study for up to 30 days provided study is not the main purpose of the visit.