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What is a Student visa? | Advice for international students

What is a Student visa? | Advice for international students

by Judith Charlton

Most international students who come to the UK to study need a Student visa.

Read on to find out how to apply for the first time, learn about visa requirements and costs. Plus, find out how our Visa Support team can help you when it’s time to submit your application.



  1. What is a Student visa?

  2. Student visa requirements

  3. How much does a Student visa cost?

  4. How do I apply for a Student visa?

  5. When can I apply for a Student visa?

  6. Can I bring my family to the UK on my Student visa?

  7. Can I work in the UK on a Student visa?


What is a Student visa?

A Student visa allows you to live and study a degree-level course in the UK. It is issued by the UK government.

You can only apply for a visa after your offer to study at a UK university has been made unconditional and you have received a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) - more about this below.

You must have received your Student visa before you travel to the UK.


Student visa requirements

To apply for a Student visa, you’ll need:

  • a current passport
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) – an electronic document from your university confirming it's happy to sponsor your stay while you are studying in the UK
  • evidence of funds – to prove you can support yourself financially at university (our Visa Support Team has put together this handy guide for further information

Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to supply additional evidence and documents, such as:

  • Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate – if you're studying a specific degree, such as an integrated undergraduate degree, taught or research postgraduate degree in science, medicine or engineering subjects (find out more by reading our guidance)
  • proof of English language proficiency if this is stated on your CAS. Explore our English language requirements and the tests we accept in your chosen degree profile online, or find out more here.
  • if you're under 18, proof of parental or other legal guardian consent to travel and study in the UK. You’ll also need proof of your relationship to them.
  • tuberculosis test results - this is only relevant if you are travelling from certain countries.
  • written consent for your application from your financial sponsor if you’ve received sponsorship for your course fees and living costs in the last 12 months.
All documents must be in English. For more information, read the Home Office Student visa guidance.




How much does a Student visa cost?

A Student visa currently costs £490. As part of your application, you'll also have to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) costing £776 a year.

The surcharge allows you to use the National Health Service (NHS) to receive healthcare. You'll be able to access a huge range of services and treatments for free, but will need to pay for certain services such as dental treatment, eye tests, and prescriptions.


How do I apply for a Student visa?

You apply for your Student visa online.

If you hold a passport from the European Union/European Economic Area or you’re a Swiss national, you can apply for an eVisa or digital immigration status. This is an online record of your immigration status and the conditions of your permission to stay in the UK.

If you have a passport with a biometric chip you can use the UK Immigration: ID Check app to confirm your identity. Once your visa has been approved, you’ll get digital permission to confirm you can study in the UK. You won’t get a physical document.

If you don’t hold a passport from a country in the EU/ EEA or Switzerland, you’ll still apply online. However, you’ll also need to visit a visa application centre where you’ll have your photo taken and your fingerprints scanned. A visa sticker or ‘vignette’ will be added to your passport.

Once your visa is granted, you'll be advised if you need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card after arriving in the UK. This is an identity card detailing your name, right to stay in the UK, photograph, permit type, conditions of your stay, and other personal data.

You won’t receive a BRP card if you're getting an eVisa or digital immigration status.

When can I apply for a Student visa?

The earliest you can apply for a visa is six months before the start of your course: any sooner, and your application may be rejected.

But don’t leave submitting your application until the last minute – remember, you shouldn’t travel to the UK without it.

It should take about three weeks to process your visa application, plus additional time for the return of your passport, if you have to hand it in to support your visa application. If you experience a delay, email our Visa Support Team – they can advise you on the best steps to take.




Can I bring my family to the UK on my Student visa?

You can only bring your partner or children to the UK on your Student visa if you’re studying a postgraduate research programme.

You can check whether or not your course is a research course from the qualification level listed on your CAS statement.


Can I work in the UK on a Student visa?

Yes, you can.

If you’d like to work while studying – to gain experience or extra money – you can work part-time for up to 20 hours per week.

However, you can’t:

  • be self-employed or engage in business activity
  • work in certain jobs (such as professional sportsperson, or entertainer)

A great way to find part-time work is to register for our Jobs on Campus scheme. Roles include administration, customer service, library assistance, catering and event support.

You can also search for other paid work opportunities with us, as well as part-time jobs in the city, through our MyCareer portal.

We hope you have found this blog useful, If you have any questions and can’t find the answer on our Visa and Immigration advice page, please don’t hesitate to email our Visa Support team on visa@ncl.ac.uk.