Visa and Immigration in the UK
If you are coming from a country in the European Economic Area, none of the information on this page applies to you.
For all other students, the following rules apply when gaining entry to the UK:
- You must have been accepted for a course of study at a publicly funded university or college, or a private institution, or a fee paying independent school; and
- You must be able and intend to follow a full-time degree course, or a weekday full-time course at a single institution involving at least 15 hours per week of organised, day-time study or a full-time course of study at an independent fee paying school; and
- You must be able to meet the costs of your course and maintenance (living expenses, including accommodation) and the maintenance of your husband/wife and children (if they are with you) without working in the UK or claiming public funds; and
- You must not intend to work in the UK, except part-time or vacation work ; and
- You must intend to leave the UK at the end of your studies.
If you are a visa national, then you will need to obtain a visa before coming to the UK - to find out if you need to, please use the official government website to learn more. You will also need to contact the British Embassy in your country to schedule and interview to make sure you satisfy the conditions outlined above.
If you are not a visa national, then you will not need to obtain a visa before travelling to the UK (however it is advisable that you do). You can come to the UK and have an immigration officer determine if you satisfy the above criteria. This is not advisable because if they deem you do not satisfy the above criteria you will have to leave the country immediately!
The student visa application
You will need to make your application online or fill in the VAF1 visa application form. You will also need:
- Your passport or travel document .
- A recent passport-sized (45mm x 35mm), colour photograph of yourself.
- 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.
As supporting documents 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 in the UK, and a statement of charges for the course
- 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) you should provide a letter from your sponsor giving details of how they will support you during your studies, and evidence that they can do so.
The Entry Clearance Officer will 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.
During the entire visa processing you must be able to show that you are going to follow:
- a recognised full-time 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 working 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 you graduated from a UK university or other educational institution in the last 12 months with a bachelor's degree (second class honors or above) masters degree or PhD in certain subjects you can apply to stay in the UK, to look for or to take work, for an additional 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!