Unless you’re from Switzerland or the European Economic Area (EEA), you will need a Tier 4 visa to study for more than six months in the UK. You can find out about short-term visas for study periods of less than six months here.
If you do need a Tier 4 visa, you can find out more about the application process on the UK government official website. The key to a successful visa application is having the right documents, so although you can only apply for your visa a maximum of three months before the start of your course, it’s a good idea to start preparing as soon as possible. Certain applications may require further documentation, so here is a brief outline of the essentials you’ll need to submit:
Offer of a place
You will need to prove that you have been given an unconditional offer of a place at a registered Tier 4 sponsor university. Upon receiving your offer, you will be given a reference number known as a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You will need this number to complete your visa application.
Proof of English-speaking proficiency
In some cases (depending on your education history and your country of origin), you may need to complete an English language test.
A current passport or other valid travel documentation
You need at least one page in your passport that is blank on both sides. You will also need to submit one passport-sized colour photograph.
Proof of financial support
You will need to prove that you have enough money to pay for your course and to support yourself during your time in the UK. The amount that you need will depend on your specific circumstances.
Tuberculosis test results
If you are applying from any of these countries, you will need to provide proof that you are free from tuberculosis before entering the UK.
Once you have all your documents ready, you can begin the application process online. You will then need to travel to your nearest Visa Application Centre to have your photograph and biometric data taken. Once you’ve applied for your visa, you will receive a decision in approximately three weeks.