More than 26,000 Nigerian students apply for the UK Student Visa each year. The duration of your programme and the course you’ve already pursued in the UK will decide how long will you be able to stay in the country. Those aged 18 and above, with a degree-level course, can stay for a maximum of five years. The United Kingdom’s Home Ministry has recently (March 2023) stated that last year a higher number of student visas were granted. The reason behind this increase is said to be the surge in student enrollment number in institutions of higher education, especially from China, India and Nigeria. As per the data shared, 25% of the visas issued were for students from India in the year 2022.
Want to start out your education journey in the UK? Here’s what you need to know about getting the Visa.
Step 1 – Check if you qualify
To study in the UK as a student you will need to acquire a Student Visa which has replaced the Tier 4 (general) Visa. If you are yet to be accepted into an institution, then you will need a prospective student visa. UK student visa applications are processed within 3 weeks of the completed application being lodged.
You must be able to show that you have:
- A confirmed place at the school, university or college where you intend to study. It is called a ‘confirmation of acceptance for studies’ (COE).
- Enough money (also known as ‘maintenance or funds’) to cover your course fees and living costs in the UK.
- Are able to read, write, speak and understand English.
- Have permission from your parents if you’re 16 or 17
Step 2 – Get your documents ready
For every document you provide, you must include the original document and a photocopy.
- A signed copy of your completed visa application form.
- A valid passport.
- 1 passport sized colour photograph which meets the photo guidelines.
- Evidence of your confirmed place at the University.
- Any previous passports to show your previous travel history.
- If you send a document that is not in English, it must be accompanied by a full translation that can be verified.
Step 3 – Apply online
You will need to register and create an account on the official UK Visa website. When you have completed your online application form, you will need to print and sign your completed form.
You must use the online appointment calendar to book an appointment at the visa application centre.When you have completed your online application, you will receive an email message containing your application number.
Step 4 – Pay your application fee
There are 4 ways to pay your visa application fee.
- Payment at Standard Chartered Bank – You can pay your fee at some branches of the Standard Chartered Bank. The bank will issue a demand draft in favour of the ‘The British High Commission’.
- Demand draft from a nationalised or foreign bank – You can pay your fee by getting a demand draft issued by a nationalised or a foreign bank. Bank charges for this service will vary. The demand draft must be in favour of the ‘The British High Commission’.
- Payment at the visa application centre – You can pay the visa application fee at the visa application centre when you submit your visa application.
- Pay online – You can pay your visa application fee online using a Visa or MasterCard credit or debit card.
Step 5 – Visit the visa application centre on the appointed date
You must book and attend an appointment at our visa application centre to submit your application and facial photograph and fingerprints.
What Are The Basic Requirements To Apply For a UK Student Visa?
- Securing admission into a UK university
- English language proficiency test
- Proof of funds
- A tuberculosis test
These are some of the basic requirements to apply for a student visa to the UK. Other requirements will be based on the type of visa a student applies for.
What Type Of Visa Should You Apply For To Study at a UK University?
The length of the course, type, and place of study decide the type of visa to apply for. There are mainly three types of visas –
- A Short-Term Study Visa – This is for students planning to study short courses in the UK. The visa is valid for 6 months and can be extended to 11 months if the student is above the age of 16 and studying an English language course. Students cannot work on this visa.
- Student Route Visa – previously known as Tier 4 Student Visa – This is for students for the longer course duration. Students pursuing undergraduate courses, postgraduate courses, M.Phil, Ph.D. need to apply for this visa. Students must be sponsored by a college or a university and have a confirmed place to stay. Students can also work on this visa.
- A Child Student Route Visa – previously known as Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa – This visa is for students aged between 4 to 17 years who want to study at an independent school.
What is the Process Of Applying For a UK Student Visa?
- Choose a visa depending on the length and type of your course.
- Prepare your application. The visa can be applied online, which will include the visa fee and the healthcare surcharge. Both are mandatory to pay.
- Attend an appointment at a visa application center to provide your biometric information such as your fingerprints and a photograph. You will have to submit documents proving your eligibility along with a Tuberculosis test.
- You will get a decision on your application within 3 weeks via a letter. If the application is accepted then you will be given a sticker called a vignette, which goes in your passport. This vignette will have the visa conditions such as what you’ve been granted, the validity of your visa, the conditions you need to meet.
The vignette will grant one-time access to the UK and the student will need to collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BPR) if they have applied for a course that is longer than 6 months. This vignette is valid only for 30 days.
What is a Biometric Residence Permit (BPR)?
A Biometric Residence Permit is issued to applicants who have applied to come to the UK for longer than 6 months. It is needed to confirm the applicant’s identity, the applicant’s right to work or study in the UK, and the right to any public service or benefits that they are entitled to. A BRP can also be used to open a bank account in the UK. There is no separate application for a BPR. It is automatically issued when the immigration application is approved. Most importantly, it needs to be collected before the vignette sticker expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.
A BPR Includes –
- Applicant’s name, date, and place of birth
- Fingerprints and photograph
- Immigration status and the conditions of the stay
- Whether they can access public funds, such as benefits and health services
What Are The Requirements For the Student Route Visa?
The Student Route visa is for students applying for a course that is longer than 6 months. The visa allows students to study and work in the UK. A student can work for 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during vacations. They can also apply to extend their stay. Students can also bring in family members/dependants on this visa.
It is a point-based system with a total of 70 points. A student must meet the full requirement and have 70 points in total. To achieve the points, the student will have to –
- Demonstrate that they can fund their education in the UK,
- Prove that they have an offer from an approved educational institution,
- Prove that they speak English.
What Are the Eligibility Criteria For a Tier 4 Visa?
- The student must be aged 16 or over.
- The student must have an unconditional offer letter from a licensed sponsor.
- The student must have enough funds to support themselves and proof of those funds. The student is required to maintain the funds in the bank account for 28 days including living costs. The living expenses are set at £1,265 if you are living in London, and £1,015 if you are living outside of London. If the student has dependents, then they need approximately £800 per month for each of them. A loan sanction letter can also work as proof of funds. Remember that a certain kind of sanction letter doesn’t work for the visa.
- The student must also have basic language proficiency.
What Is The Cost Of the Student Route Visa?
It costs £348 to apply for this visa. In case there are any dependents, they will also have to pay £348 per person.
Healthcare Surcharge – along with the visa fee, students will also have to pay a healthcare surcharge of £400 per year. For example, for a 2-year visa, the student needs to pay £800. It is also called the ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’ or the IHS.
The amount is refunded if the visa application is rejected or the student withdraws the application.
How To Apply For the UK Student Route Visa?
Before applying for a student visa, the student must provide the following information.
Documents Required –
- A current passport
- Proof of funds
- A ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ given by the university. It is a reference number that needs to be entered in the visa application.
- Documents verifying test scores and academic qualifications and transcripts.
- Proof of English language proficiency
- An Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if applicable.
- A tuberculosis test result to prove that the student is medically fit. The certificate should not be older than 6 months.
Process of Applying For the Visa –
- Apply for the visa online and book an appointment.
- Select a visa application center to attend a visa interview. You will be provided with a UK student visa checklist and informed if you need to bring any of the documents with you on the day of your interview.
- At the appointment, your fingerprints and photographs are taken as part of your application.
- UK student visa processing time is usually 3 weeks. That is, the decision on the application is given within 3 weeks but you can get a faster visa decision at an additional cost. You can get it within 5 days – ‘Priority Service’ or 24 hours – ‘Super Priority Service’.
- The process will end when your passport is ready for collection. At this point, you will be contacted to collect your documents.
- Once you reach the UK, collect your Biometric Residence Permit within 10 days or before your vignette expires, whichever is later.
When To Apply For the Student Route Visa?
Time is of the essence when applying for a visa. The earliest a student can apply for the visa is 6 months before they start the course. This is an improvement from the time granted in the previous Tier 4 visa. However, students should also keep in mind that they must apply for the visa no more than 6 months after they receive the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). That is, it should be used within 6 months of it being issued or it will expire. An expired CAS cannot be used and will lead to a rejected visa application. The student can enter the UK one month before the course starts.