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Tier 4 Student Visa

UK Student Visa

If you want to study in the UK, you can apply for the UK Student Visa. You must have received an unconditional offer from a licensed student sponsor to be eligible.

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UK Student Visa for U.S Citizens

With some of the most historical and prestigious universities in the world and a common native language, it is little wonder that the United Kingdom is a popular choice for American students.

If you want to study in the UK as an American for a period longer than six months, you must obtain a UK Student Visa. In order to be eligible, you must have received an unconditional offer from a licensed student sponsor.

The rules around the UK Student Visa were changed in October of 2020 when the new ‘Student Visa route’ replaced the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. The new UK Student Visa is available to Americans who are aged 16 or over.

Typically, this visa covers your course length and a short period after. It can be extended or switched from if you wish to remain in the UK for further study or work once your course is finished.

How can IAS help?

Our team of specialist lawyers can assist with your Student Visa application. Your lawyer will work one-on-one with you to assess your study options, advise you on your requirements on next steps. They will also guide you through your entire application process. From getting your Certificate of Acceptance of Study (CAS) to organizing your documents into a portfolio, we can help. Contact us now on +1844 290 6312 or make an inquiry online to speak with a lawyer about your UK Student Visa.

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UK Student Visa Eligibility

As an American, you can apply for a UK Student Visa if you are aged 16 or over. However, you will need to meet a number of requirements to be eligible for the visa.

The main requirements are as follows:

  • You must have received an unconditional offer and a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from an educational establishment which is a licensed student sponsor
  • If you are 16 or 17, you will need to provide evidence that your parents have given consent to you studying in the UK

As an American, you do not need to fulfil the English language requirement and you will not need to prove that you have enough money to support yourself whilst you are studying in the UK.

However, you will usually need to show that you have enough money to pay for your course for one academic year (up to 9 months). The amount you need to pay will be on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

Where Can I Apply for the UK Student Visa?

You can apply for a UK Student Visa in the United States (or elsewhere outside the UK), or in the United Kingdom if you are already in the UK under a different immigration permission.

If you are applying from the U.S, you can apply for the Student Visa 6 months before the start of your course.

If you are applying for the visa from within the UK, you can apply from 3 months before the start of your course. You will need to apply for the visa before your current UK visa expires, and within 28 days of your current visa expiring.

If your application is accepted, it is possible to arrive in the UK before your course starts.

This can be either:

  • Up to 1 week before if your course lasts 6 months or less
  • Up to 1 month before if your courses lasts more than 6 months

What are the Course Requirements?

You must have received an unconditional offer from a licenced student sponsor to be able to study in the UK. Your course provider should send you a reference number once they have offered you a place on the course. This is known as the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You will need your CAS reference number to apply for the UK Student Visa, and you must apply for the visa within six months of receiving the CAS.

The course itself must meet certain conditions. It can be:

  • A full-time course which leads to a qualification below degree level (RQF level 3, 4 or 5) which has at least
  • A full-time course which leads to a qualification that’s at degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8)
  • A full-time course which is at degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8) and which is equivalent to a UK higher education course and is being delivered as a part of a longer course in America, or elsewhere overseas
  • A part-time course leading to a qualification that’s above degree level (RQF level 7 or above)
  • A recognised foundation programme for postgraduate doctors or dentists
  • An English language course at level B2 or above as set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

It possible to apply for this visa if you are taking up a full-time elected position as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer too.

Also, you can apply for the visa if you have been sponsored to do a foundation programme and you have finished a recognised UK degree in medicine or dentistry from a registered student sponsor, and you spent your final year, and at least one other year, of your studies in the UK.

What are the Required Documents for a UK Student Visa?

When you submit your application, you will need to provide a portfolio of information and documents which demonstrate your eligibility for the visa.

You will need to provide:

  • A current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your course provider
  • Proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if you are under 18-years-old
  • Proof of your relationship to your parent and guardian if you are under 18-years-old

Any documents which are not in English or Welsh must be translated by an accredited translator. You need to include both the original and the translated version in your portfolio of documents.

Proof of Parental/Legal Guardian Consent

If the applicant is under 18, they will need written consent from both parents or legal guardians, or one parent/guardian if they have sole responsibility for the child.

The parents/guardians must give consent to:

  • The visa application
  • The living and care arrangements in the UK
  • The travel to the UK

They will also need to provide a copy of the birth certificate (or other U.S government-issued document) which shows the names of the parents.

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Application Process and Fees

You must apply for the UK Student Visa online. The current fee for a UK Student Visa is £348 if applied for from outside the UK. If you opt to switch to the Student Visa from another immigration permission inside the UK, the fee is £475.

As well as the standard application fee, it is important to note that you will need to pay an annual immigration health surcharge of £470 per year.

Typically, you can expect to receive a decision within 3 weeks of the date UKVI receive the application. However, if your application is a particularly complex one, it may take longer for the application to be processed. For instance, if you have an insufficient portfolio of evidence, you will be asked to provide further documentation or have certain documents verified.

This is why it is important to ensure you include all necessary documents and information in your application. Failure to do so will result in unnecessary delays in the processing of your application, or even an automatic refusal.

We can help you to prepare your application to the very highest standards. Our UK immigration lawyers are vastly experienced and understand what it takes to formulate a successful application. Call us now on  to find out how we can help you to being a new and exciting adventure as a student in the UK.

Proving Your Identity

As part of the application process, you will need to prove your identity. When you complete your application, you will be informed of what you need to do.

Typically, you will need to do one of the following:

  • Give your fingerprints and photo (biometric information) at a visa application center in the U.S. You will need to pay £19.20 to provide your biometric information
  • Use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document. If you are asked to do this, you will need to create or sign into your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account

If your UK Student Visa application is successful, you will either:

  • Collect a biometric residence permit, if you gave your biometric information at a visa application center
  • Be given a digital immigration status which you can access online, if you used the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app

If you provided biometric information, you will need to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of the date you intend to arrive in the UK.

Any family members (more below) who will be joining you must also provide their biometric information.

Can my American Family Join me in the UK?

Your partner and children can join you in the UK as dependants of you if one of the following applies:

  • You are a full-time student on a postgraduate level course (RQF level 7 or above) which lasts 9 months or longer
  • You are a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months
  • You are a Doctorate Extension Scheme student

A dependant partner or child can be any of the following:

  • Your spouse or civil partner
  • Your long-term, unmarried partner
  • Your child who is under 18-years-old, including if they were born in the UK during your stay

You need to provide evidence of their relationship to you through, for example, a marriage/civil partnership certificate or a birth certificate.

If the child is 16 or 17, you will need to provide evidence which demonstrates that they are not living an independent life. If they are living with you, you can provide two documents which show the child’s home address, for instance.

Your family members must apply online as the partner of you, or child of you. They will need to pay the full application fee too. In order to apply, they will need your application number, known as the Global Web Form or Unique Application Number. You can find this on emails and letters which you receive from the UK Home Office.

If their application is successful, their visa will be valid for the same amount of time as yours.

Can Americans Extend the UK Student Visa?

Yes, it is possible to apply for a UK Student Visa extension as an American. To extend the visa, you must:

  • Be in the UK on a Student Visa (or the old Tier 4 (General) Student Visa)
  • Have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licenced student sponsor (as shown by the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)
  • Show that your studies are at a higher academic level than your current course, known as the ‘academic progress requirement’

You can also apply to extend your family’s/dependents’ visas at the same time as you extend your visa.

You can apply 3 months before the course starts, and you must apply before your current visa expires. You must apply for the visa within six months of receiving the CAS too. You can stay in the UK until a decision has been reached on the extension.

It costs £475 to extend the visa, and you will need to carry on paying the annual immigration health surcharge of £470 per year.

You will need to apply online for the extension, as you did with your original visa. Typically, you will receive a decision within 8 weeks of the date your application is received.

To find out more about the full requirements for a Student Visa extension, including the ‘academic progress requirement’, our team of UK immigration lawyers is here to help. Call us now on +1 844 290 6312 to find out more.

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Frequently Asked Questions

You are permitted to switch onto a UK Student Visa from a number of different scenarios and visa categories.

These include if you are:

  • A Tier 4 Child Student in the UK
  • A Tier 1 Migrant
  • A Tier 2 Migrant
  • A participant in the International Graduates Scheme/The Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme
  • A participant in the ‘Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland’ scheme
  • A post-graduate doctor or dentist
  • A student nurse
  • A current student re-sitting an examination
  • A current student writing a thesis
  • A student union sabbatical officer
  • A work permit holder

You cannot switch to this visa if you are in the UK under any of the following immigration permissions:

  • A Visit Visa
  • Short-term Student Visa
  • Parent of a Child Student Visa
  • Seasonal worker visa
  • Domestic worker in private household visa
  • Leave outside the immigration rules

Yes – students on a UK Student Visa are permitted to work during their studies. However, there are limits to the hours you can work.

If you are an adult student on a UK degree course, you can work a maximum of 20 hours per week and it must not interfere with your studies.

If you stop studying before you have completed the full length of your course, you cannot continue to work. If you do, you will be in breach of your immigration conditions.

There are certain restrictions which you are obliged to live under in the UK.

You cannot:

  • Work in certain jobs such as a professional sportsperson or sports coach
  • Claim any benefits
  • Be self-employed
  • Study at an academy or a local authority-funded school

If you (or your child) want to go to the UK to study for a period of six months or less, you can apply for a Child Visitor Visa.

To make an application for this visa the applicant needs to have:

  • Enough funds to support them during their study
  • Enough funds to pay for their course
  • Accommodation for their stay in the UK

This visa route is not required for US citizens.

If you intend to go to the UK to study for a period of six months or less, you can apply for a Student Visitor Visa.

To make an application for this visa, you must:

  • Be 18 years or over
  • Be undertaking a course which is a maximum of six months long
  • Have enough funds to pay your tuition
  • Have enough funds to support yourself
  • Have enough funds to pay for your accommodation (if necessary) during your course

Our immigration lawyers are experienced in assisting international students coming to study in the UK.

As part of our advice and application services, you will be paired with one of our specialist advisers.

Your lawyer will:

  • Work with you to assess your study options, to find out which study visa is right for you;
  • Process and collate your supporting documents, placing them into an evidence portfolio. This will make your application presentable for the Home Office;
  • Write a Letter of Representation to accompany your application;
  • Liaise with your sponsor to organize your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS);
  • Liaise with the Home Office about your application when necessary.

Get in touch now on +1844 290 6312 or make an inquiry online to get advice about your application for a UK Student Visa.