UK visa information
Please note that The UK Border Agency updated the Tier 4 Visa rules on the 6th of April 2012. For the most updatede information on UK Visas please see the UKBA website.
What is a visa?
A visa is a certificate that is put into your passport or travel document by an Entry Clearance Officer who works in The Visa Section (visa application office) at a British mission overseas. The visa gives you permission to enter the UK.
When you arrive in the UK, an Immigration Officer may ask you questions, so pack all relevant documents in your hand luggage.
Do I need a visa to study in the UK?
You will need a visa if you:
- Are not an EEA national
- Are stateless (you don't have a nationality)
- Hold a non-national travel document, or
- Hold a passport issued by an authority that is not recognised in the UK
You do not need an entry clearance if you are a non-visa national, but you will have to satisfy the Immigration Officer that you qualify for entry to study when you arrive in the UK. You must be able to show that you have been accepted on a course of study at an approved educational provider that is on the Border Agency Tier 4 Register of Sponsors.
Which visa should I apply for if I am under 18?
You should apply for the child visa if you are under 18 years old and want to attend a course of less than six months, otherwise you should apply for a Tier 4 (child) Student visa.
Which visa should I apply for if I want to study for less than 11 months?
If you are applying from January 10, 2011 onwards, are over 18 years old and intend to book an English language course for less than 11 months, you should apply for a Student Visitor Visa This is basically a form of the Tourist Visa and will be outside the Points Based System. However, you can only be issued the Student Visitor Visa if you are enrolled at an accredited institution, and you will have to satisfy immigration on the current tests of intent to study, ability to follow the course, and intent to return home afterwards. The Student Visitor Visa has no entitlements (no right to work, to switch to another visa category, to extend or bring in dependants). It will have a maximum duration of 11 months and is intended for those who simply wish to come to the UK to take an English language course. If you are a 'non-visa-national' who does not normally need a visa to study for up to 6 months, you must apply for the extended visa if you wish to take a longer English language course.
Which visa should I apply for if I want to study for more than 11 months?
If you are over 18 years old and want to attend a course of more than 11 months, you must apply under the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa under the Points Based System.
How do I qualify for a Tier 4 (General) Adult Student Visa to the UK?
To be eligible for an Adult Student Visa under the new points based system you must have a total of 40 points, to gain the necessary points you should:
- Apply to a school that is accredited by an accrediting body approved by the UK Border Agency. All Kaplan International Colleges UK schools are accredited by Accreditation UK one of the approved government accrediting bodies
- Apply to a school that is on the UKBA Register of Sponsors (only education institutions accredited by an approved accrediting body are eligible to apply to be on the Register). All Kaplan International Colleges UK schools are on the Register of Sponsors
This will give you an initial 30 points, a final 10 points are obtained by showing you have sufficient funds to pay for your course and your living expenses in the UK.
How do I apply for a visa?
You can apply in a number of ways, for example, by post, by courier, in person or online. Staff at the visa application office or Visa Section (visa application office) can inform you of the most suitable application methods.
Some visa sections will only accept applications made online. To find out if you can apply for your visa online please visit the visa 4UK website.
If you cannot apply online you will need to fill in a visa application form (VAF3 - Student). You can get a form free of charge from your nearest visa application centre.
You should apply for a student visa in the country of which you are a national or where you legally live.
What is the Points Based Visa System?
From March 2009 the UK government has implemented a new Points Based Visa System for international students applying for an Adult Student Visa (6 months or more) to enable entry to the UK to attend a full time program of study. The new system will be more objective and transparent than the previous regulations but does mean there are changes to the visa process and documents you will need to prepare before you leave your home country. Please read the following carefully.
How do I show that I have sufficient funds?
You have to demonstrate to immigration officials that you have enough funds in your bank account to cover your course fees for one year or whole length of course if shorter than a year and enough living expenses for your first 9 months stay in the UK which is calculated as £1000 per month for London and £800 per month for everywhere else in the UK. You should submit ONE of the following as evidence of funds:
- A bank account statement
- A building society/savings account type passbook
- A dated and signed letter from a financial institution stating that you are the account holder, the account number, and the funds in the account held over the minimum 28 day period
How do I prove that I meet the required minimum English language level?
You must submit evidence to the UK Embassy/Consulate that you meet a minimum English language level of A2 (Pre-Intermediate) when applying for an Adult Student Visa. Present ONE of the following with your visa application to demonstrate you have studied English in their home country:
- High school certificate/attendance record, university certificate or other document which shows the student has studied English on a full or part time basis and the level of English they have reached
- Certificate from an internationally recognised English exam such as IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC or other Cambridge Exam. (N.B. this is NOT compulsory but could be used if you have taken one of these examinations )
- A teacher’s reference or certificate from a local language school to establish the dates of an English course the student participated in and the English level reached
- These documents must be originals
- If they are not in English they must be translated by an appropriately-qualified translator
- You can send copies to Kaplan International Colleges but must submit the original(s) with the visa application
- Entry Clearance Officers will make verification checks that the documents are genuine.
As a supplement to the above, you can take the Kaplan International Colleges pre-arrival test as a guide to your level please ask us to e-mail the test to you. However, you will still require one of the official documents listed above to demonstrate your level with immigration officials; Kaplan International Colleges’s test is not accepted as an official test.
What happens if my English level is Beginner or Elementary?
If your English level is below A2 (i.e. Beginner or Elementary) you can only initially apply for a Student Visitor Visa and then would have to re-apply for the Adult Student Visa in your home country when you have achieved the required level.
What are the implications if I apply for the Foundation/Pre- Masters program?
Students who come to study pre session English and a Foundation Certificate or Pre-Masters course will be only be given a visa for the pre-sessional English and Foundation/Pre-Masters course. Once you have successfully completed those courses and met the entry requirement of your intended university conditional offer you can then apply (in the UK) for an extension to your visa. You will need original academic documents when you apply for their visa and to have evidence of your English level as well.
What happens if I want to include an internship in my program?
Students wanting to include an Internship as part of their course should apply for the Adult Student Visa in the same way as for a General English course. Note that this applies even if the overall program duration is less than 6 months. You will be allowed to do a work placement as part of your course of study as long as the work placement is an assessed part of the course and is of an acceptable level. The work placement must be no more than 50% of the program length: Kaplan International Colleges has set a minimum internship length of 4-weeks.
What is the process if my course is sponsored?
You should provide a stamped letter of confirmation from your official sponsor on official letter headed stationery. This letter should state:
- Your full name
- Name and contact details of your sponsor
- Date of the letter
- Length of the sponsorship
- Confirmation that your sponsor will meet all your course fees/ living expenses. In cases of part-sponsorship, you must show that you have sufficient funds in your bank account to cover the remainder of the fees and living expenses.
What do I do with my documents?
You must send the originals of all documents requested when applying for your visa. We also strongly recommend that they bring copies in your hand luggage as they will be checked again at the point of entry into the UK.
Is there anything else I need to do once I get my visa?
Under the new system Kaplan International Colleges are also monitored by the UK Border Agency and must be able to check the following documents and contact details of all students attending a Kaplan International Colleges school:
- Your Passport - please bring to school on your first day - each student’s passport photo page and UK visa details will be photocopied and stored in your student file.
- You must provide full contact details (full address and a telephone/mobile number) to school staff on the first day, even if you have made your own accommodation arrangements.
- The school will check your attendance in class daily. If you miss more than 10 days of classes the school is required to report this to the UK Border Agency.
- You must inform the school in advance of any planned absence such as an official appointment or family commitment. In these cases, you must present documentary evidence like an appointment card, official letter to request absence (etc) to the school staff. In the event of an unexpected illness, you are required to telephone the school on the morning of your illness. If the illness persists, you should seek medical advice and arrange for a doctor’s note.
What is the cost of my visa?
Adult Student Visa (from outside the United Kingdom): £289
Student Visitor/Child Visitor Visa: £78
Can I work or bring dependents into the UK?
You can only work or bring dependents into the UK on an Adult Student Visa.
You are eligible on an Adult Student Visa to:
Take part-time or holiday work, but you must not:
- Work for more than 20 hours a week during term time unless your placement is part of your studies, has been agreed with your educational institution and leads to a degree or qualification awarded by a nationally recognised examining body
- Do business, be self-employed or provide services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer
- Work full-time in a permanent job
Bring your husband, wife or civil partner and children to the UK with you during your studies, as long as you can support them without needing any help from public funds.
Please note: If you are studying at below undergraduate level, you cannot work on a Tier 4 visa or bring family members with you.
What do my dependants need to make an application?
Your dependants will need to make their application online or fill in a VAF3-Student visa application form:
They will also need the following:
Their passport or travel document.
A recent passport-sized (45mm x 35mm), colour photograph for each separate individual. This should be:
1. taken against a light-coloured background
2. clear and of good quality, and not framed or backed
3. printed on normal photographic paper, and
4. full face and without sunglasses, hat or other head covering unless you wear this for cultural or religious reasons (but the face must not be covered).
The visa fee. This cannot be refunded and they must normally pay it in the local currency of the country where they are applying.
Proof of their relationship to you
Proof that you can support them without needing any help from public funds.
Proof of the course of study you are doing or are going to do in the UK.
A copy of the relevant pages from your passport, showing your permission to stay if you are already in the UK.
When should I apply?
You should apply in good time for your entry clearance so that you are not delayed in getting into the UK. It can get very busy in visa sections, especially over the summer when lots of students are applying.
What happens if anything changes in the regulations?
Kaplan International Colleges will continue to keep you updated of any additional changes as soon as we have this information. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Where can I get more advice and information?
Contact The UK Border Agency http://ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/studyingintheuk/.
English UK www.englishuk.com also provides useful information to help international students prepare for study in the UK.
For more advice and information about extending your stay once you are in the UK, contact:
The UK Border Agency
40 Wellesley Road
Croydon CR9 2BY
Phone: (+44) (0)870 606 7766 (general enquiries)
Phone: (+44) (0)870 241 0645 (application forms)