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Studying in the UK: How to Choose and Get a UK Student visa?

Both future students and parents dream of the UK education – former, for themselves, and latter, for their children. A UK degree is recognised all over the world and offers great opportunities. It is a sure path to finding a well-paid job. 

British education system is considered to be one of the best in the world. You will not only become fluent in English but also find work in the UK, Europe or anywhere else.

This article gives an overview of what visa category you should apply for, what you need to pay attention to and what documents are required to enrol into a British educational institution.

UK Student Visas 

Students coming to the United Kingdom to study at school, college or university must obtain a corresponding UK student visa. But before applying for it, they must get a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS). The duration of stay in the UK, including how long a student can stay in the country before they start studying, and validity of the visa depend on the course length.

There are several types of UK student visa: Child Student visa, Student visa, and Parent of a Child Student visa. Each of them has its own specific characteristics and requirements. We will look at each of them in detail. 

UK Student visa 

A UK Student visa is granted to applicants over 16 years old. You need to submit the following documents:

  1. A valid passport or any other form of ID (a travel document, birth certificate)
  2. CAS confirming that the applicant is enrolled into one of the licensed UK education providers
  3. English test results confirming the required knowledge of English
  4. A written consent from both parents or legal guardians (for minor applicants from 16 to 18 years of age)
  5. A bank statement or any other confirmation that you will have sufficient funds to pay for your living and education. If the tuition fee has already been paid, you will need to provide a receipt.

You may need to submit additional documents depending on your circumstances.

A UK Student visa allows you not only to study but also to have a part-time job based on your qualifications and type of sponsorship, work as a student union sabbatical officer and bring family members.

UK Child Student Visa 

Child Student visa is granted to children between 4 and 17 years old. To get a UK Child Student visa, you need to submit the following documents:

  1. CAS from one of the licensed British independent schools confirming that a child has been accepted for studies there
  2. Proof that the child has enough money to support themselves and pay for the course (a bank statement)
  3. A birth certificate, passport or valid ID card
  4. A written consent from parents or legal guardian(s) for a child to study in the UK.

The duration of stay in the UK on a Child Student visa is limited by the course length and depends on the applicant’s age:

  • Children from 6 to 16 years old can stay in the UK for 6 years + 4 months
  • Children over 16 years old can get a visa for 3 years + 4 months.

At the same time, 16-year-old teenagers are allowed to work full-time during vacations and part-time during term for up to 10 hours per week. You cannot bring family members.

UK Parent of a Child Student visa 

This type of visa is for parents who want to take care of their children up to the age of 12 while they are attending a UK school. When you apply for a UK Parent of a Child Student visa, you’ll need to provide:

  1. A current passport
  2. Proof that you have enough money to support yourself and your child
  3. Evidence that you have a permanent home outside the UK
  4. Proof that you leave the UK when your visa expires.

You can stay in the UK until your child’s visa expires or they turn 12. It is possible to extend your visa for another year until a child turns 12. While you’re in the UK on a Parent of a Child Student visa, you cannot work or switch to a different type of visa. It is not allowed to bring dependent family members and apply for an indefinite leave to remain.

Short-Term Study Visa 

You can also get a UK Standard Visitor visa in order to study a short course in the United Kingdom. A short-term stud visa is an ideal option for those who want to do a course at a British educational institution, a language course, or carry out research in the UK. It is important to remember that scientific research can only be carried out by a student of an overseas university or college who is over 18 years old. 

Short-term student visa is valid for either 6 or 11 months. However, for research purposes, this type of visa does not exceed 180 days.

When you apply for a short-term study visa, you must provide:

  1. Any form of ID
  2. A written consent from parents (for minors)
  3. An enrolment letter from the course provider including the name of the course
  4. Proof that you have sufficient funds to pay your tuition and cover your living costs and other fees
  5. Details of where you are going to stay and your travel plans.

You may need to provide additional documents. You can always consult with Imperial & Legal specialists as to which documents will be required in your case.

People who are in the UK on certain types of visa can also study at British schools and universities. For example, dependants of long-term visa holders are usually allowed to attend a UK school and/or university. A special permission to study in the UK might be required for UK residents staying on other visas such as Skilled Worker visa, Innovator visa or Start-up visa

UK Education Providers that Can Accept International Students 

In order to accept foreign students, every UK education provider needs to provide education services in the UK legally, meet quality standards, and have a sponsorship licence.

A UK sponsorship licence for accepting foreign students can be granted to:

  • Independent school
  • Colleges
  • State and private universities.

An education provider can apply for a UK sponsorship licence under the following two visa routes: Student visa and Child Student visa. Academies and state-funded schools cannot accept foreigners or apply for a sponsorship licence.

What is UK Graduate Visa?

If you have completed a higher education course in the UK, you can apply for UK Graduate visa. It allows a foreign graduate to stay in the UK for 2-3 years to find a permanent job or run a business. 

Can I get ILR and British Citizenship on a Student Visa?

Skilled Worker visa, business visas, family visas, and other similar permits lead to an indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and later British citizenship. You need to live in the UK for a certain number of years and meet other requirements. However, if you come to the UK on a visitor, student or start-up visa, you cannot apply for ILR.

As it has already been mentioned, UK Student visas do not lead to ILR, but the time spent in the UK on such visas can be counted towards the time required for ILR – ten years in this case (if you stay in the UK legally and all other necessary requirements are met). The time spent in the UK on different types of visas can be also taken into account, for example, UK Child Student visa + Student visa + Graduate visa + Skilled Worker visa, etc. 

Please bear in mind that to get ILR, you must provide evidence that you have been living in the UK legally for all these years. That is why it is easier sometimes to wait for 5 years on a new type of visa than to collect all these documents. In any case, we recommend consulting our experienced advisors if you do not want your ILR application to be refused.   

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