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The Student Visa has replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa.

If you wish to study in the UK, and are aged 16 or over, you can apply for a Student visa. You must show that you meet the following requirements:

  • You have been offered an unconditional place on an approved course with a licensed student sponsor;
  • You can read, write, speak and understand English to at least CEFR Level B2 (if studying at degree level or above) or CEFR Level B1 (if studying at below degree level);
  • You have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course without relying on public funds;
  • You have the consent of your parent(s) or legal guardian if you are 16 or 17 years old;

What courses can I study?

You can apply to study on one of the following courses:

  • A full-time course, with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study, leading to a qualification which is at RQF Levels 3-5
  • A full-time course, leading to a qualification that is at RQF Level 6, 7 or 8
  • A full-time course that is at degree level or above (RQF level 6,7 or 8), that is equivalent to a UK higher education course and is being delivered as part of a longer course overseas;
  • A recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist (if you have finished a recognised UK degree in medicine or dentistry, received that degree from a registered student sponsor and spent your final year and at least one other year of studies leading to that degree in the UK);
  • An English language course at level B2 or above in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

You can also apply under this category if you are applying to extend your stay on the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) or to take up a full-time elected position as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.

If you are applying for to extend your stay on the DES, you must currently have permission to be in the UK on a Student visa (or a Tier 4 (General) Student visa) and your course must lead to a PhD

Confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)

Your education provider will provide you with a reference number which is called a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) once you have been offered a place on a course.  You will then have up to 6 months to apply for the visa following the receipt of CAS.

A CAS can only be used once and must contain certain information including:

  • details of the course to be studied
  • the level of study
  • the place of study
  • the cost of accommodation and fees (and any payments already made) and
  • how the English language requirement has been met.

English Language Requirement

You must prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply. This usually means passing a secure English language test (SELT). The level of English required depends on what level of course you are studying. Nationals of certain countries will not need to meet this requirement and will be exempt.

How much money do I need to show?

You will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient cash funds available to pay for your course and support yourself in the UK. The amount you need to demonstrate will depend on your individual circumstances and what you are applying for.

Course fees

You need enough money to pay for your course for 1 academic year (up to 9 months).

If you have paid all or part of your course fees to your student sponsor then this can be offset against the funds required, provided this is either confirmed on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies, or you provide a receipt issued by the education provider.

A deposit paid to the education provider towards student accommodation can also be used against the funds required but only up to £1,265.

Money to support yourself (‘financial requirement’)

You will need to show you have enough money to support yourself and how much money you need depends on where you will be studying. You will need either:

  • £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London
  • £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London

If applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, and you have not been in the UK for 12 months, you need to prove you have a total of £2,668 for courses in London, or a total of £2,046 for courses outside London.

If you are boarding at a residential independent school, you will need to pay boarding fees instead. The amount you need to pay will be on your CAS.

The amount of money required will need to be held in your account for at least 28 days ending no more than 31 days before the date of your application.

You do not need to meet the financial requirement if:

  • You are applying from the UK and have been in the UK for 12 months with a valid UK visa prior to the date of the application
  • You are applying a Student Union Sabbatical Officer
  • You are applying as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised foundation programme
  • You are a British National (Overseas) or you are from one of a list of specified countries or territories that are subject to the ‘differential evidence requirement’

What can and can’t I do on a Student Visa?

If you are granted a student visa you will have permission to study and work as a student union sabbatical officer.

You may be able to work in other occupations and the number of hours you can work will depend on what you are studying and whether you are working in or out of term time. Certain jobs will not be permitted for example a professional sportsperson or sports coach. You also cannot be self-employed or claim benefits/pensions.

Can I switch to the Student Visa Category?

You will be able to switch to this category if you already have permission to be in the UK and are not in the UK under the following categories:

  • a visit visa
  • a short-term student visa
  • a Parent of a Child Student visa
  • a seasonal worker visa
  • a domestic worker in a private household visa
  • leave outside the immigration rules


Your family members (dependents) may be able to apply to join or remain with you in the UK if you are:

  • sponsored by a higher education institution on a full-time course at RQF Level 7 or above that lasts 9 months or more
  • a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months
  • a Doctorate Extension Scheme student

A dependant is either classified as either:

  • Your husband, wife or civil partner
  • Your unmarried or same-sex partner
  • Your child/children under 18 years old

Each dependant must have a certain amount of money available to them in addition to the money you must show to support yourself.

The amount of money required depends on the length of the course and where you are studying in the UK.

Money must have been held in the applicant or dependents bank account for at least 28 consecutive days before applying ending no more than 31 days before the date of the dependent visa application. Partners and children who have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months or who are from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ where the main applicant is applying at the same time, do not need to satisfy a maintenance funds requirement.


If you are in the UK with leave as a Student or Tier 4 (General) Student, you may be able to extend your stay on the Student route.  Your dependants may be eligible to extend at the same time.

You will need to have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed student sponsor and, subject to a few exceptions, be able to show that the studies you are looking to undertake are at a higher academic level than your current course.

If you have been in the UK with a valid visa for less than 12 months, you will also need to demonstrate that you have enough money to support yourself in the UK.

The Student Visa has no direct route to settlement.


Our experienced lawyers can help you ensure your application is complete and valid. They can assist you by:

  • Making an initial or extension application for you and your dependants
  • Challenging decisions by way of Administrative Review or other appeal process

We will assist by:

  • obtaining the complete facts of a case
  • collecting relevant documents
  • advising on the best solutions
  • using our expertise to undertake one-to-one interview preparation
  • preparing the application (including completion of forms)
  • preparing covering submissions
  • submitting the application(s) to the relevant authority
  • communicating with the relevant authority until a decision is made
  • advising about rights and entitlements following a decision an application
  • providing follow up support and services


DESCARTES SOLICITORS is recognised as one of the leading multi-practice firms in the UK. Our specialist team can assist applicants with properly making an application ensuring all the required documentation and information is provided.

For advice and assistance with Student Visa applications please contact our lawyers on 0208 995 3556 or e-mail