'Before you begin your UK education, check to see if you need a visa. If you do, there are several types of study visa, depending on your age, the length of your course and the level at which you plan to study.'
The UK government welcomes international students, and there is no limit on the number of student visas that can be issued. UK immigration and visas are managed by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). UKBA is part of the UK government’s Home Office. For the latest definitive information about immigration and visas, check the UKBA website www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk.
Another great resource is the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website www.ukcisa.org.uk. UKCISA do not manage visas, however they do have lots of tips on travelling to the UK, visas, finding accommodation and much more.
Do you need a visa?
You can find out if you need a visa on the UK Border Agency website.
When should you apply for a visa?
If you do need a visa, it is important to apply well in advance of when you intend to travel. You can find out about visa processing times in your country on UKBA's visa service pages.
What kind of visa do you need?
If you do need a visa to study in the UK, there are a number of different types available:
- Tier 4 (Child) student visa: You can apply as a child student under Tier 4 of the points-based system if you are between 4 and 17 years old. If you are between 4 and 15 years old, you must be coming to the UK to be educated at an independent fee-paying school.
- Child visitor visa: You can apply as a child visitor if you are 17 years old or under and you want to come and study in the UK for up to 6 months (or 12 months if you will be accompanying an academic visitor).
- Tier 4 (General) student visa: You can apply as an adult student under Tier 4 (General) of the points-based system if you are coming to the UK for your post-16 education. With a Tier 4 visa, you can stay for longer than you can with a Student visitor visa, for example you could do a course at a university. You can find out more here
- Student visitor visa, and extended student visitor visa If you are 18 or over, and you want to study in the UK for up to 6 months, and you do not want to work while you are here, then you can apply for a student visitor visa. If you want to study purely English language courses, you can apply for an extended student visitor visa that allows you to stay for up to 11 months.
- Prospective student visa: You can apply as a prospective student if you intend to study in the UK under Tier 4 of the points-based system but you have not completed all the arrangements for your course of study. For example, you can come here as a prospective student if you have been provisionally accepted on a course, with final acceptance dependent on an interview. You must be able to show that you will start your studies within 6 months of arrival in the UK.
You can find out more in UKBA's Studying in the UK pages.