Each year, thousands of international students successfully gain a visa to study in the United Kingdom. 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 government. Please check the UK Visas and Immigration website for more information.
Do I need a visa?
This depends on your nationality and immigration status. On this page, you can find out if you need a UK visa: www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa
When should I apply for a visa?
It is important to apply well before you intend to begin your course. Many students do not realise how long the process will take, and do not leave enough time. Your application may require you to:
- have certain vaccinations or – if you are coming from a tuberculosis high-risk area – a chest x-ray
- produce documents showing your finances and qualifications
- attend an interview or a biometric test.
Average visa processing times vary depending on your country. You can get an idea from UK Visas and Immigration: Visa processing times.
What kind of visa do I need?
The following two visas are suitable for students who want to do a short course, or an 11-month English language course:
- Child visitor visa: You can apply if you are 17 years old or under and you want to study in the UK for up to 6 months (or 12 months if you will be accompanying an academic visitor).
- Student visitor visa: You can apply if you are 18 years old or over and you want to study in the UK for up to 6 months. If you want to study purely English language courses, you can apply for an extended student visitor visa to stay for up to 11 months.
The following two visas allow you to do a longer course in the UK. Your course must be at a school, college or university on the register of licensed sponsors.
- Tier 4 (Child) student visa: You can apply 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.
- Tier 4 (General) student visa: You can apply if you want to study in the UK after the age of 16. You need to meet certain eligibility requirements – click here for details.
On 22 May 2014, the UK Home Office issued further guidance on secure English language test (SELT) providers. We encourage you to check the full text and FAQ here.
Working in the UK
If you come to the UK on a student visitor visa, child visitor visa, or prospective student visa, you are not eligible to work in the UK.
Some students who enter on a Tier 4 student visa are eligible to work a certain number of hours per week and in the holiday periods. Please visit the UK Visas and Immigration website for more information.
What's the application process really like?
In this short film, join two international students as they apply for UK student visas:
Find out more
You can find out more about visas on the UK Visas and Immigration website.
The UK Council for International Student Affairs also has a lot of student-friendly advice, but please also check UK Visas and Immigration for the latest official information.
Planning to work in the UK after you graduate? Read about work visas here.