Many students prefer to use an immigration consultant or agency to process their student visa, as they are more likely to get the application processed quickly and correctly. It is often more convenient and costs a relatively small amount. You must use an accredited immigration agent, and you can check this through OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commission), Immigration Law Practitioner's Association (ILPA), or through the United Kingdom Law Society. It is always advisable to check the UK Border Agency website for updates, as changes are updated on this website first and everything that you need to know about visas is to be found here.
Universities also have specialised student immigration advisors employed to offer advice and assist with the application process.
Please visit these websites for more information:
Getting a study sponsor
Students coming to the United Kingdom under a Tier 4 visa will require a university, college, school or other qualified United Kingdom educational institution to sponsor them for a student visa. They will also need to score enough points (40) to be accepted as an international student in the United Kingdom. You need to show:
1. That you are doing a course at an acceptable level with an approved education provider (who is an Approved Sponsor) - 30 points
2. That you have enough money to cover your course and your monthly living expenses (maintenance) for a year. Bank statements must support this and you must be able to prove that you have sufficient money in your account 28 days before you submit your application – 10 points
3. You will also need a level of English language proficiency. If not, you would need to do an English Language speaking course and write a test to be accepted to any Diploma or Degree course.
The current system grants visas for an initial period of one year, which may or may not change under the tiered system. Some sandwich courses and short courses may only have the visa granted for 6 months.
The institution will grant the student a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS), if the student meets the criteria and the institution decides that they want to offer the student a place. The student will then use the CAS to apply for a visa.
Historically, foreign students have been allowed to work – 20 hours a week during term time and full time (normally 37.5 hours a week) during holiday periods – as long as there is a stamp on their visa permitting this and if their visa extends to more than 6 months. Ensure when applying for the visa that your working visa requirements are endorsed.
The cost of visas – Student and Post-Study Worker Visas
The costs of visas payable to the Home Office are detailed here:
International students also have special immigration options available to them upon graduation, under the new points-based system. Once a student graduates from an eligible United Kingdom educational institution, they can apply for a Tier 1 visa under the Post-Study Work option. This allows international graduates to remain in the United Kingdom for two years following graduation. Once they have completed this period under Post-Study Work, a graduate can move into another subcategory or tier.
You must be able to show that you have been accepted on a course of study at an educational establishment that is on the United Kingdom's Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) Register of Education and Training Providers. You can search the register on the DCSF website www.dcsf.gov.uk .
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 daytime study per 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 United Kingdom without relying on work or help from public funds; and
- Intend to leave the United Kingdom when you have completed your studies.
You are required to register with the Police if your passport is stamped by the immigration officer with ‘Register with UK Police on arrival' or ‘Register with the Police within seven days', or if you are from a non-EU/EEA or non-commonwealth country, or if you are from any of the following countries:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uzbekistan or Yemen.
Where & how to register
You are required to register at any police station. The Police registration document needs to be renewed each time an extension of stay is granted (there will be no charge for this renewal). If you have a current leave to remain and you leave and return to the UK within 12 months, then you can continue with your previous Police registration.
Please take with you:
- Your passport
- Two passport sized photographs of yourself
- An administration fee (currently £34)
The police will keep your passport for a few days, after which you should return to collect it. It is therefore important that you open a bank account before you register with the police.
You must notify the Aliens Registration Office each time you change your address, if you get married, if you get a new passport, if the Home Office changes a prohibition on employment to a restriction, or if you change your place of study. Any accompanying spouse or children must also register.
For more information please refer to:
Your family and visas
If you are a mature student, your husband or wife and any of your children under 18 can come to the United Kingdom with you during your studies, as long as you can support them and will live without any help from public funds.
Can my partner/husband/wife work?
Your husband or wife will be allowed to work in the United Kingdom should they obtain permission to stay in the country for 12 months or more.
Visiting the United Kingdom to arrange your studies
You can travel to the United Kingdom as a prospective student for up to six months to arrange your studies. You will need to show that:
- You intend to enrol on a course of study within six months of arriving in the United Kingdom.
- You can pay for your course, support yourself and your dependants, and live without working or any help from public funds, and
- You intend to leave the United Kingdom when you finish your studies or when your permission to stay ends, if you do not qualify to stay in the United Kingdom as a student.
As these matters can have a dramatic impact on your future career and life, we recommend that you seek specialised advice from registered immigration agents or see www.ukcosa.co.uk for more information.
What to do if your visa has been refused?
If your visa has been turned down for any reason, you have the Right of Appeal. There are Specialised Immigration Consultants (they need to be Level 3 consultants) to represent you in such an Appeal.