Visa Information

Visa routes for studies in the UK: Student visa (formerly Tier 4 visa), Visitor visa and Short-term Study (English language) visa

Important: The information contained below is correct as of 1 December 2020 and 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.

Student Route

Under the new Points-Based System (PBS), Student Route has replaced Tier 4 Route as the main visa route for international students since 5 October 2020. A Student visa is broadly speaking the main visa route for full-time courses of any length. However, it can also be used for shorter courses such as a 3-months pre-sessional English language course, leading to main academic programmes. There are two sub-categories under Student visa route:

  • Student visa (for applicants aged 16 or above)
  • Child Student visa (for those attending programmes at independent schools under the age of 18)

Further details on eligibility, required documents and application can be found at

Visitor Route (up to 6 months) and Short-term Study (English language) visa Student Route

From 1 December 2020, Visitor visa permits studies of short courses up to 6 months at an accredited institution or recreational studies of up to 30 days.

Short-term Study (English language) visa -formerly known as the Short-term Study (11 months) visa- is for students aged 16 years or above to study pure English Language courses that last up to 11 months in length. If your English language course is less than 6 months, you could use the Visitor visa route instead.

Further details on eligibility, required documents and application can be found at

The main differences between Student visa and Visitor visa, including Short-term Study (English language) visa are:

  • There is no work rights under Visitor visa route (volunteer is permitted but not voluntary work)
  • Visitor visa cannot be extended in the UK or be allowed to switch to Student visa in the UK

Therefore students should only come on a Visitor visa, if they are absolutely certain they will not want to stay for longer than six months (or 11 months in the case of pure English Language courses).


Visitor Route Student for more than 6 months

Most international students need a student visa to study in the UK. Finding out whether you need a visa to study is easy – simply check here on GOV.UK .

Your student visa will allow you to live and study in the UK throughout your course.

If you attend a pre-departure briefing in your home country, you will pick up more handy tips on your visa application. British Council holds pre-departure briefings in many countries. To find out more about these events in your home country, go to the British Council website  and select your country from the drop-down menu.

Student visa (previously Tier 4 visa)

If you are 16 or over and want to study at higher education level, you’ll need to apply for a student visa  through the Student Route. From 5 October 2020, the Student Route has replaced the Tier 4 Route. The Student Route falls under the UK’s new points-based immigration system.

Visas that have been issued through the Tier 4 Route are still valid, and those eligible will be able to apply for the Graduate Route  when it opens in summer 2021.

You need to wait until you have an offer from a university or college before applying for a visa. Your university or college will then be able to give you a document called a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). To do this, your chosen institution needs to be approved by the UK government as a licenced sponsor.

You will need to complete an application and have it accepted before you arrive in the UK.

You will need to pay an application fee (£348 for students) and have a current passport or other valid travel document.

You will also need to pay a fee called an Immigration Health Surcharge. This gives you access to the UK’s National Health Service. Students receive a 25 per cent discount on the usual cost of this surcharge – so the rate for student visa holders is £470 per year. 

You can apply for a student visa up to six months before your course starts. 

Find out more about student visas on the GOV.UK website 

The UK government has also published guidance for EU students  on the points-based immigration system. Find out more about studying in the UK as an EU student here .

Short-term student route (previously short-term study visas)

Short-term student route visas are available to students who want to join courses that are up to six months long or English language courses up to 11 months long.

Find out more about the short-term student route .

Other types of visa

If you’re aged between four and 17 years old and you want to study at school in the UK, you can find out more about child study route here .

If someone you know is coming to visit you on holiday to the UK, they will need to apply for a visitor visa. Find out more about this here 

Student visa under the new Points-Based system

Number of points Criteria

Presentation of a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a licensed Student sponsor and provide relevant documentations used to obtain the CAS.


Evidence to show they have the finances to study in the UK (known as maintenance) by demonstrating they can cover:

  • Course fees (1st year)
  • Monthly living costs (up to 9 months)

See ‘Evidence of your finances’ document for examples and tips on how to prepare for financial evidence.


Evidence of English language proficiency

70 Total points required to be granted a Student visa


As part of your visa application on, the UKVI will assess whether you have suffi cient funds to study in the UK. Your visa application on must demonstrate that you have sufficient tuition on and maintenance funds for your course of study, less any fees paid.


In London
Course fees + £1,334 per month of studies
(up to 9 months)

 Outside of London
Course fees + £1,334 per month of studies
(up to 9 months)
Course fees + £1,023 per month of studies
(up to 9 months)

Date of statement
The bank statement must not be
dated more than 31 days before
the visa applicaƟ on date (which
is associated with the payment of
the visa applicaƟ on fee).

check the OANDA website
( for exchange
rates to ensure you have
enough money.

Your bank statement must be an
original and not a scan, online
printout or photocopy. It must feature
an offi cial bank logo and company or
branch address.

The required level of funds
must be held in the account for
a minimum of 28 consecutive
days (finishing on the date of the
closing balance).

Account name
You can use money held in an account belonging to you
or your parent (or legal guardian). If using the account
held by your parent(s)/legal guardian(s) you must
provide evidence (for example a birth cerƟ fi cate) to
prove you are related. You are required to provide a
fi nancial consent leƩ er, stating that their funds are
available to use for your studies in the UK.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) will include information about the student, their sponsor (educational provider), their course, the evidence used to obtain the offer and the fees.

Cambridge Education Group’s admissions team will send out CAS statement to those who need to apply under the Student visa route. This is conditional upon the student fulfilling the terms set out in their offer letter and having confirmed their place by returning the required deposit or sponsorship letter. The CAS statement should then be included with their visa application.

The CAS statement from our admissions team will include:

  • The sponsor’s licence number, address and contact details; ACL code for BRP collection (if applicable)
  • The student’s name, date of birth, nationality, country of birth and passport/travel document number.
  • Course details such as name, RQF level, start and end date, hours per week, address of student’s main place of study.
  • Course fees for the first year and any payments already made. If relevant, any accommodation fees for the first year and any payments towards it already made.


Visa application

You can apply for a entry clearance to enter the UK under Student visa up to 6 months before your intended course starts in the UK.

If you are eligible to extend your permission to stay in the UK under Student visa, you can do so up to 3 months before your new course starts.

The visa application checklist

As part of the application, students will need to:

  • Complete the relevant visa application form
  • Pay the visa application fee
  • Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee (currently £470 per year)
  • Attend visa interview (if required – see section below on Visa Interview for more details)

As part of their visa application they will also need to provide the following:

  • a valid passport or travel document
  • a CAS statement from a Student sponsor
  • documents listed by their sponsors in the CAS statement assigned by their Student sponsor, such as academic transcripts or qualification.
  • 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) or a loan in their name or government sponsorship and financial consent (if the account belongs to the parent or legal guardian)
  • TB certificate
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Card (if applicable)

Visa interview

As part of the Student visa application, you could be asked to attend an interview. Please refer to our ‘Your Visa Interview Guide’ for further details.

Visa issuance

Please note that all students applying for Student visa (for over 6 months) are issued a 30-day entry clearance (yellow sticker). During the Covid-19 concession period, entry clearance is issued for 90 days period instead of 30 days. Students will need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card within 10 days of arriving in the UK under normal circumstances. The BRP card would cover the full length of their student visa. Your institution will give you more details on how to collect the card and you will also receive a letter from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) with more information following a successful visa application.



Working whilst studying

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 brings 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,

  • Child Student visa holders, 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.
  • Student visa holders – depending on their Student sponsor status and their course level – could be allowed to work between 10 and 20 hours per week during term-time, and full-time during vacations.