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UK Visa Guide

Most international students need a visa/entry clearance to study in the UK. You can check the UK Visas and Immigration website to see if you will need a visa/entry clearance to study in the UK.

Your visa type depends on your age, what you will study in the UK and how long your course will be. The below table shows what type of visas students should generally apply for in the UK:

Less than 6 months
Over 6 months
6 – 11 months – English course only
Under 16 years
Standard Visitor Visa
Child Student Visa
Not allowed
16-17 years
Standard Visitor Visa
Child Student Visa, unless studying UFP – in which case Student Visa
Short Term Study Visa
18 years +
Standard Visitor Visa
Student Visa (no GCSE or Pre-Programme allowed)
Short Term Study Visa

You can find more information about different visa types and information about making an application below. If you have any questions, please contact 

admissions@catscambridge.com

Important: The information contained below is for guidance only. Although every effort is made to ensure its accuracy, we strongly recommend you visit the UKVI website for up-to-date information.

There are four routes for students who wish to study in the UK. You can find more information about each one in the sections below.

Types of study visa

Standard Visitor visa

This visa is for courses under 6 months. Depending on your nationality you might not need to apply for this in advance before your travel.

You can find the list of nationalities who are categorised as non-visa nationals and can apply to enter the UK as a visitor on arrival at the port of entry here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-visitor-visa-national-list

Students who are visa-nationals must apply for entry clearance as a visitor before travelling to the UK

Study English in the UK (Short-term study visa)

This visa is for English language courses lasting longer than 6 months and up to 11 months. Everyone must apply for this visa before they travel to the UK. It is only available for students aged 16 years and over.

Child Student visa

This visa is for students aged 4 – 17 who want to study in the UK (usually for over 6 months), excluding those studying on a Foundation course. Students can study courses at RQF level 3 and below.

Student visa

This visa is for students aged 16 and above, who want to study in the UK (usually for over 6 months). It is generally used by over 18’s, except those studying on a Foundation course. The course for a Student Visa must be RQF Level 3 or above.

Students wishing to study courses of up to 6 months (e.g. High School Term, Academic English or Fast Track UFP) can apply for the Standard Visitor Visa. This visa is suitable for students of all ages and allows studying, sightseeing, and visiting friends/family for up to 6 months.

You will need to establish whether you are a visa national or a non-visa national. To do this, check whether the country you are a citizen of appears on the visa national list

  • Students who are non-visa nationals (this includes EU countries, Brazil, Japan and Korea amongst others) can apply to enter the UK as a visitor on arrival at the port of entry. Students should bring all the required documents to show at the border.
  • Students who are visa-nationals must apply for entry clearance as a visitor before travelling to the UK. It is a good idea to carry with you all of the documents that you submitted with your entry clearance application when you travel to the UK. The Border Force Officer may ask to see these documents when you arrive in the UK.

Students (aged 16 or above) attending English language courses for 6 to 11 months can apply for a Short-Term Study visa. This is only possible if you are studying English. If you are studying any other course of over 6 months, you will need to apply for a Student or Child Student Visa. You can find more information on the following website: https://www.gov.uk/visa-to-study-english

The English language course does not need to lead to a specific qualification and there are no minimum academic requirements for immigration purposes.

You are not allowed to study on any other course or change your course while in the UK.

This is the route for those intending to study in the UK, usually for 6 months or more.

A student cannot make a visa application more than six months before the start date of their course outside the UK and more than 3 months before the start of the course inside the UK.
There are two categories under Student Route:

Child Student:

  • Age: 4 – 17
  • Study at an Independent school
  • Course level: any level up to RQF Level 3 excluding Foundation course
  • No Secure English Language Test is required
  • No progression requirement – students can extend their visa in the UK
  • Course change: possible on same visa if new course is on same or higher level and the new end date is the same

 

Please refer to the UKVI website for more details.          

Student:

  • Age: 16+
  • Course level: RQF Level 3 or above (Foundation course can only be studied on a Student visa)
  • Time limit:
    • Below degree level: 2 years from the students’ 18th birthday subject to certain concessions
  • Secure English Language test is required
  • Progression requirement: Students need to progress to higher level course to be able to apply for their new Student visa in the UK.
  • Course change: must apply for a new visa to be able to switch to new course
  • Please refer to the UKVI websitefor more details.

 

Please note that all students applying for Student or Child Student (for over 6 months) are issued entry clearance (yellow sticker in passport). Students will need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card within 10 days of arriving in the UK. The BRP card covers the full length of their student visa. The school will give you more details on how to collect the card and you will also receive a letter from UK Visas and Immigration with more information following a successful visa application.

Studies below degree level (below RQF level 6):

From the student’s 18th birthday, they can study up to 2 years below degree level on a Child Student and/or Student visa.

Concession: The 2 years can be extended to 2 years and 11 months if the student is applying for their first Student visa and the course length is 2 years.

Child Student

  • There is no need for a Secure English Language Test (SELT) as we can self-assess entry level of English and recommend the appropriate course for each student’s needs.
  • Students can take an English language pre-sessional course before their main academic course under one single CAS (as long as they are 16 or over and joining Pre: Programme/A Level/IB Diploma course)

 

Student

Students applying for the Student Route must complete and pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT). The current list of approved tests can be found here.

All students requiring a SELT will need to take one of the approved tests at an approved SELT centre.

The minimum scores required by UKVI are on this website and listed below. However, each course has its own entry requirements which can be found 

 

RQF Level 3: CEFR Level B1

  • IELTS for UKVI 4.0 minimum in all 4 components
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT B1 minimum 33 in all components
  • Pearson PTE Academic UKVI minimum 43 in all components
  • PSI Service (UK) Ltd Skills for English UKVI B1 (4 component) minimum Pass in all components

Students over 18 with an English level below CEFR Level B1 will have to use the Short-term Study visa route.

 

Exemptions to the Secure English Language Test (SELT)

Only the following students are not required to undertake a SELT in order to obtain a Student visa:

 

Most student visa refusals under the Student route are due to errors in financial documentation. Please read this section carefully and check the UKVI website for up to date advice. 

Depending on the length of the course and your accommodation, the amount of finance required to satisfy the points-based assessment will vary as follows:

Boarding Full boarding fees paid, or available in student or parents’ bank account
Independent Accommodation

Course fees (paid or in bank account) plus

  • £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London
  • £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London

You might not need to provide financial evidence if you’re from an exempt country but you should still make sure you have enough funds. UK Visas and Immigration may ask you to show that you have them.

Types of funds you can rely on

You can show you have enough money using:

  • your own money
  • your parent’s money (if they provide a letter confirming they agree to you using it this way)
  • an official financial or government sponsorship or grant
  • a student loan from a government, government sponsored loan company, or a regulated student loans scheme


Evidence of Funds

Evidence of your own funds (not loan or sponsorship) can be provided in the following ways:

  • bank statements
  • building society passbooks
  • certificates of deposit
  • a letter from your bank or building society


For bank statements, they must:

  • Be dated no more than one month before the visa application submission date;
  • Show that the entire amount required (as per above) has been in the account for 28 consecutive days (and has not fallen below the required amount throughout the 28 days)
  • Be for a cash account
  • Show the date it was issued, account holders name, name of bank or building society and the balance over the 28 day period


Fees Paid to Institutions

Fees already paid to the College towards student’s tuition or boarding fees can be deducted when calculating how much money a student needs to meet the finance requirements for a Student or Child Student visa application. 

Applying using your parent’s documents

If parent’s bank statements are used in the visa application, submission of the following to prove the relationship between parents and the applicant is also required:

  • Original legal documentation from parent/legal guardian who are financially supporting the applicant. The documentation should confirm the relationship between the parent/legal guardian and the applicant. This could include the following:
    • Birth certificate showing the applicant and the parents’ names;
    • Certificate of adoption showing applicant and the parents’ names;
    • Court document showing the applicant and the legal guardian’s names;
    • A letter from parent/legal guardian confirming the relationship between the applicant and the parent/legal guardian and that parent/legal guardian consent to using their funds to pay for the tuition and maintenance during the applicant’s studies in the UK.

Download and read our quick reference guide to evidencing your finances to ensure you satisfy the UKVI requirements.

To apply for your Student or Child Student visa, you will need your CAS reference number from us.

The CAS includes information about the student, their sponsor (educational provider), their course, the evidence used to obtain the offer and the fees.

Our admissions team will send out CAS statements to students once all the conditions on the offer are met and we have received the deposit.

As a condition of being a licensed sponsor, we are responsible for the students while they are in the UK and are obliged to report students to the UKVI if they:

  • do not arrive for the start of their course
  • withdraw from their course
  • defer or suspend their studies
  • are absent for significant periods of time.

Please be aware that your visa will be curtailed if we report you to UKVI. Always contact us to discuss any changes in circumstances.

We are also required to keep up to date and accurate records of visa and passport documentation, UK contact details and attendance records.

Child Students can apply in the UK.

Students are restricted in extending their visas in the UK, and it will depend on the following criteria. Please contact us with any queries.

  • If the new course starts later than 28 days of your current visa’s expiry date.
  • Academic Progression requirement must be met – except if you apply for a Child Student visa or your first Student visa. Academic Progression requirement is met when an applicant successfully completed the previous course, and your new course must be above the level of the previous course for which you were given leave.
  • Current visa type. We will need to receive a copy of your current visa to confirm whether you can apply in the UK. There are some visa types/ permissions that cannot be used to apply for a new visa in the UK. You can find the list in the Immigration rules under ST.1.4. – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/appendix-student

 

Please note that students are only allowed to attend lessons, if they have a visa application submitted for their new visa with us. We will require evidence of the new application.

We can support you with submitting your visa application in the UK. Once you arrive to school one of our friendly team can assist you with it.

Students will need to:

  • Complete the appropriate visa application form:

https://www.gov.uk/child-study-visa/apply  OR  https://www.gov.uk/student-visa/apply

  • Pay the visa application fee
  • Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
  • Prepare for your visa interview (if applicable)
  • Students will need to provide the following:
    • a valid passport or travel document
    • a CAS statement from a licensed sponsor
    • documents to show they meet the maintenance requirements (such as a bank statement featuring the student’s name (or parent or legal guardian, with evidence of relationship i.e. birth certificate) or a loan in their name or government sponsorship and financial consent (if the account belongs to the parent or legal guardian)
      • a parental consent letter if the student is under the age of 18. The written consent must confirm support for all of the following:
        • the application; and
        • the applicant’s living and care arrangements in the UK; and
        • if the application is for entry clearance, the applicant’s travel to, and reception arrangements in, the UK.
      • Documents listed by their sponsors in the CAS statement assigned by their sponsor, such as academic transcripts.
      • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Card (if applicable)
      • Police registration certificate (if applicable)
      • TB certificate (click hereto see if you are required to provide a TB certificate before submitting your application for your UK student visa)

International students are able to work in the UK as per the conditions imposed in their visa during their studies with opportunities available including:

  • part-time work
  • vacation work
  • course-related work placements.

Working whilst studying can bring many benefits including extra money and it can also help to improve the level of the English language. However, the students should be careful not to let their job interfere with their studies as this is, after all, the reason why they are here in the UK.

Do not under-estimate the hours needed to focus on studies in order to successfully achieve the desired academic result.

Students may work part-time for a number of hours during term time depending on their course, age and type of visa. The following restrictions apply:

Child students, who are over the age of 16, are allowed to work if it is no more than 10 hours a week during term-time; full-time during vacations.

Students – only if their sponsor is HEP (Cambridge Arts and Sciences is a registered HEP, Higher Education Provider) – are allowed to work between 10—20 hours during term-time (dependant on the level of the course), and full time during vacations.

Note: Please always refer to the UKVI website for up to date information in case of policy changes.

What is the Visa Interview (Credibility Test)?

Students aged 16 or above can be asked to attend an interview during their visa application process. The purpose of visa interview is to check the applicant’s credibility as a genuine student and interview questions can include the applicant’s reasons for choosing to study their programme in the UK, their knowledge of the chosen programme and whether they can afford their studies in the UK. These interviews can be carried out via video link, face-to-face or via telephone.

How do I prepare for the Visa Interview?

We recommend our students to prepare for these visa interviews so they can answer the questions properly and accurately to assist the caseworker who will be assessing the applications. This also ensures there is minimum delay to the processing of their visa application.

Here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Do attend– Failure to attend the interview may result in your application being automatically refused. In the event you cannot attend, contact the Visa Office to reschedule.
  • Do answer– You should always answer all questions fully and honestly.
  • Do think– You should think in advance about your course, the documents you provided for your visa application, and your intention to study. The UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) want to know that you have given serious thought before choosing your course and researched the options.
  • Do speak in English! – One of the most important things they will be checking is your level of English, so always answer in English, not via an interpreter.
  • Do ask– Ask for clarification if you do not understand a question to make sure you are providing the information they want.

If you would like to get a copy of our Visa Interview Guide, please email us on 

admissions@catscambridge.com