Applying for a Student route visa outside the UK

Last modified: 08 August 2022

The Student and Child Student routes replaced Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes on 8 October 2020. All applications are now under the Student or Child Student route, including European Economic Area (EEA) nationals.

This page outlines guidance on visa applications under the Student route, including applications by EEA nationals, and specific special arrangements brought in during the Coronavirus pandemic.

This information is based on the Immigration Rules, and on the policy guidance and application forms issued by the Home Office. We update it as soon as possible after any changes.

Considerations before applying

Last modified: 02 December 2021

You can make applications under the Student route outside the UK. This is also recommended where potential applicants also do not meet the rules to apply inside the UK (see Can you apply in the UK?). You cannot hold immigration permission (a visa) under multiple categories simultaneously for the UK, so any successful application under the Student route will cancel any other immigration permission held.

Do I need a visa?

Where can I study with a Student visa?


Where, when, how to apply

Last modified: 01 April 2022

Be aware that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting many areas of life, including some aspects of applying for a Student visa. Where any special arrangements, or specific issues exist, we have highlighted this and included guidance below.

Where to apply

When to apply, including Coronavirus updates

How to apply

Biometrics appointments and Coronavirus (Covid-19) impact

Medical check, including Coronavirus updates

Under 18s

I already have a Tier 4 or Student visa that is still valid. Can I use it to enter the UK?

Submitting your application

Last modified: 29 April 2022

This information provides guidance on completing the application process. After you have completed and submitted the form online, paid the associated fees (immigration health surcharge, biometric enrolment fee and visa fee) you will have a choice to select some “value-added services”. These are provided by the visa application centre and include priority services, courier services, and VIP lounges.

Application fee

Immigration health surcharge

Biometrics, including Coronavirus updates


Processing times, cancelling an application

Application checklist

Last modified: 02 December 2021

This summary and checklist is designed to help you with the stages and timeline of application process. It includes links to external websites where appropriate. This checklist by itself does not contain enough information to make a successful application. It is only a summary of the steps involved in applying for a Student visa, and does not contain detailed information about the requirements.

If you want to make a successful application, it is extremely important that you:

  • check that you meet all the requirements
  • allow time to obtain any supporting documents you need to provide 
  • provide your supporting documents in the format required  
  • complete all sections of the form, fully and accurately
  • follow any specific guidance from your sponsor institution

This is a generic checklist for all applicants. Most universities, colleges and schools publish detailed guidance for their own students on applying for a Student visa, and they may offer individual advice on the application. We strongly advise that you use these resources offered by your sponsor when preparing your Student visa application. You should wait until you have obtained your Student visa before you book any non-refundable tickets for travel. 

  1. Choose an institution and course, apply for admission on the course, receive an unconditional offer and accept your offer.
  2. Apply for ATAS clearance (if applicable).
  3. Request a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number from your institution and check the information on your CAS is correct when you receive it. The CAS issuing process can vary between institutions. Note that a CAS is only valid for six months and you must make your visa application within this time. You can only use the CAS for a visa application once.
  4. Check the visa process in your country of residence and the current visa processing times. If there is more than one VAC in the country where you live, decide where to apply.
  5. Book and take a TB test (if applicable).
  6. Check that you meet the requirements.
  7. Make sure that you have all of the necessary supporting documents, including:
    • Valid passport
    • Evidence that you can meet the financial requirements (if required)*
    • Evidence of qualifications listed on your CAS (if required)*†
    • Evidence that shows you meet the English language requirement, or that you are exempt from having to meet it
    • ATAS clearance certificate (if required)
    • Valid TB test certificate showing you do not have TB (if required)
    • If you will be under 18 on the date that you apply for your visa, a letter from your parent/legal guardian confirming their relationship to you and that they consent to your study and living arrangements in the UK and your travel arrangements. You will also need evidence of your relationship with your parent/legal guardian (e.g. birth certificate, certificate of adoption)
    • Receipts for any tuition fees and/or accommodation costs that you have already paid to your institution, if this information is not included on your CAS*
    • Translations of any documents that are not in English or Welsh
  8. Complete the application form, submit it and pay the application fees, the immigration health surcharge (if applicable), and upload your documents.
  9. If required, book a biometrics appointment at the VAC.
  10. If an appointment is required, attend at the VAC and pay the application fee (if you haven’t already done so) and provide your biometrics.
  11. Attend an interview, if you are asked to do so. You may also be contacted to have a further interview which you must attend.
  12. Wait for the outcome of your visa application. Your passport and supporting documents will be returned to you by post (if these were retained at your appointment) or you will be instructed to collect them at the VAC.
  13. Wait until your Student visa is issued. Do not travel to the UK and attempt to enter as a Standard Visitor.


* “Low-risk” applicants:
If you are subject to the differential evidence requirement (also known as being “low-risk”), you may not need to submit these documents in your initial application. For details on who may be “low-risk”, see our guide to Evidence. You must confirm on your application form that you have these documents but you do not need to submit them with your application. You might be asked to provide them at a later date.

Student sponsor - Track record:
If your sponsor is listed on the Register of licensed sponsors: students as "Student sponsor - Track record", you are not required to submit evidence of your qualifications or references if you are applying to study at degree level or above.

Receiving your decision

Last modified: 08 August 2022

This guidance will explain what to expect once you have received a decision on your initial application. There is important information included about when, and when not, to travel to the UK, how your visa will be issued, and how long it will be issued for.

Once your visa is issued

Start and end dates

Is your visa correct?

Do not travel to the UK before receiving your Student visa, or before its start date

Travelling to the UK with your Student visa vignette

Collecting your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)


Last modified: 03 December 2021

If your application is refused we strongly advise that you contact your institution for advice. The immigration adviser or international student adviser there can tell you to what extent they can assist you with your options following a refusal. 

If you think the refusal was incorrect, based on the evidence you submitted with your application, you may be able to ask the Home Office for an 'administrative review' of the decision. Whether or not you can do this will be outlined in your decision letter.

An administrative review is applied for online and costs £80. You must request the administrative review within 28 days of the date you receive your refusal notice. Your refusal letter should detail why you are refused and give instructions for requesting an administrative review. The administrative review request notice and accompanying guidance can be accessed on the website.

You cannot produce new or different documents for an administrative review unless:

  • your application was refused on grounds of deception, breach of conditions, or overstaying your previous leave; and/or
  • your application was refused on the grounds that it was submitted outside of the permitted time limits; and/or
  • the Home Office made an incorrect decision not to request additional evidence under paragraph 245AA of the Immigration Rules. This paragraph states that the Home Office can request missing documents if you submitted necessary documents but:
    • a document did not contain all of the specified information
    • a document was in the wrong format (for example, if a letter was not on letterhead paper as specified); or
    • evidence was missing.

Be aware that at present the Home Office states that an administrative review may take up-to 6 months. If your application is refused, contact your institution immediately for advice and support as they may be able to advise if an administrative review is likely to be completed in time for you to either apply again, or receive a new decision approving your visa in time to start your programme of study.

You cannot submit a new entry clearance application at the same time as requesting an administrative review of an earlier entry clearance application. If you make a new visa application while you have an administrative review pending then your administrative review will automatically be withdrawn.

If you make a further application for immigration permission you are likely to be asked whether you have ever been refused immigration permission in the past. It is very important that you do declare any refusals, as requested.

If your visa is refused your application fee will not be refunded, however if you have paid the immigration health surcharge then this will be refunded.

Students' experiences: video stories

Last modified: 03 December 2021

The University of Sheffield commissioned the following videos about students from China and India as they prepare to make their visa applications for study in the UK, and then prepare to travel here.

Applying in China

Applying in India