UK life Coming to the UK Student visas FAQs
Student visas – FAQs
What changes have been made to the UK student visa rules?
The UK Government has announced new visa regulations with the aim of preventing bogus institutions from recruiting international students. Since April 2012, you can only be accepted for a UK student visa if you are applying to a university or college rated ‘Highly Trusted’ by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). You can download a PDF of the Register of Tier 4 sponsors (approved education providers) from the UKBA website (you’ll find the download under 'related documents' on the right-hand side of the page).
How much will it cost?
The following fees are effective for Tier 4 (General) visa applications made by the main applicant (rather than for a partner or child) from April 2012:
Fee if you are applying by post in the UK: £394
Fee if you are applying in person inside the UK: £716
- Fee if you are applying outside the UK: £289
See the UKBA website for more detailed information.
Although all the fee for applications outside the UK is quoted in pounds sterling, you can usually pay them in your local currency. Your nearest visa application centre or British mission overseas that offers a visa service will have more information on what the local fees are and how you can pay.
When should I apply?
You should apply in good time for your entry clearance so that you are not delayed in getting into the UK. It can get very busy in visa sections, especially over the summer when lots of students are applying.
Use the UKBA’s country finder to find out how to apply in your country, the location of visa application centres, how long it generally takes to process visa applications, and how your documents will be returned to you.
Can I work while I’m a student in the UK?
You are only entitled to work if you study at either a higher education institution or a publicly funded further education college as defined by the UKBA. See the article about working during your studies for more information.
Can I work in the UK after I complete my course?
Students from countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) do not need a work permit to work in the UK, and are free to work during or after finishing their studies. (Bulgarian and Romanian nationals may need to apply for permission before they can work in the UK.)
It is possible in some circumstances for international students from non-EEA countries to remain in the UK to work after they complete their studies. See the article about working after your studies for more information.
Can I bring my husband, wife or civil partner and children with me?
You cannot bring your dependants to the UK unless you are:
- sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at NQF level 7 or above (ie postgraduate certificates and diplomas, masters degrees and doctorates) which lasts 12 months or more; or
- a new government-sponsored student following a course which lasts longer than six months.
Dependants must apply under the rules for points-based system dependants. You can download an application form and guidance notes from the UKBA website (you will find these on right side of this page).
You can also read the UKCISA Information Sheet Your family’s immigration for more detail.
Can I go to the UK to arrange my studies?
Yes, but you must apply for entry clearance as a Prospective Student. You will then be able to stay for up to six months to arrange your studies.
You will have to show that you have made contact with UK institutions – for instance, a letter inviting you for an interview in the UK. At the end of that time, you must leave the UK unless you have already switched into Tier 4 of the points-based system to begin your course of study.
What is the register of sponsors?
The register of sponsors lists all organisations that the UK Border Agency has licensed to employ migrant workers or sponsor migrant students.
Under the points-based system, any employer or education provider that wants to act as a sponsor needs a licence. Employers and education providers are only added to the register of sponsors when they get a licence.
The register of sponsors lists the name and location of every registered organisation. It also gives a sponsor rating for each organisation – this will be an ’A rating’ or a ’B rating’. Tier 4 (General) sponsors can apply for a Highly Trusted sponsor licence.
You can download a PDF of the Register of Tier 4 sponsors (approved education providers) from the UKBA website (you’ll find the download under ’related documents’ on the right-hand side of the page). You can also download the current Register of sponsors – employers from the UKBA website (click on the PDF icon to the right of the page).
What is a Highly Trusted sponsor?
The Highly Trusted sponsors scheme came into operation on 6 April 2010. Only education providers that are Highly Trusted sponsors are allowed to provide courses with work placements that are below degree level. All publicly funded (ie state-sector) education providers are automatically enrolled on this scheme, while private-sector education providers have to apply to join.
Since April 2012, students from non-EEA countries can only be accepted for a UK student visa if they are applying to a university or college rated Highly Trusted by the UKBA.