Study in the UK
If you want to study in the UK
Your course length, type and place of study affect which visa to apply for.
A Standard Visitor visa lets you do a short course of study that lasts no longer than 6 months.
A Short-term study visa lets you come to the UK to study an English language course that is over 6 months and up to 11 months.
A Student visa is usually for a longer course. You must be sponsored by a licensed college or university and have a confirmed place. You may be able to do some work on this visa.
A Child Student visa is for 4- to 17-year-olds who want to study at an independent school. If you’re 16 or over, you can do some work on this visa.
How do I apply for a visa?
You can apply for a Student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:
- have been offered a place on a course by a licensed student sponsor
- have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
- can speak, read, write and understand English
- have consent from your parents if you’re 16 or 17 – you’ll need evidence of this when you apply
If you’re 16 or 17 and you want to study at an independent school in the UK, you may be eligible for a Child Student visa instead.
How to access the NHS while studying in the UK
You will need to pay a fee for a UK Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). You will have to pay the IHS if you apply for a visa for a period of longer than six months, and you make your visa application outside of the UK. This gives you access to the UK’s National Health Service. Students receive a 25 per cent discount on the usual cost of this surcharge – the rate for a student visa is £470 per year for a student, for example, £940 for a 2-year visa. The full amount must be paid upfront and payments are made by debit/credit card as part of your online visa application.
If you are applying online, you’ll be asked for your course dates. You’ll be sent an email with an IHS reference number. This will also be shown on screen when you’ve paid. Check your junk folder if you cannot see the email in your inbox. You can only use this number once – you’ll need to get another one if you reapply. You’ll need to write this on the cover of your visa application if you’re applying by post.
The IHS covers free medical treatment (including emergency or hospital care). If you have a pre-existing condition and you need treatment, for example clotting factor concentrate, this will be covered by your IHS fee. You’ll still need to pay for certain types of services such as prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests.
Please note that NHS hospitals have a duty to identify and charge overseas patients for the hospital treatment they receive. Hospitals will check documentary evidence of entitlement to prove that you are entitled to free NHS care. If you are not entitled, you will be charged.
Visitor visas and short-term visas
You do not need to pay the surcharge or get an IHS reference number if you’re applying for a:
- visitor visa
- visa for 6 months or less from outside the UK
You will need to pay for any NHS care you get at the point you use it – unless it’s a service that’s free. You should make sure you have private health insurance from the beginning of your stay.
How to get a referral to a haemophilia centre in the UK
To access health care in the UK, you need to register with a General Practitioner (GP) as soon as you arrive. You should register with a GP, so there is a doctor in charge of your ongoing healthcare and you have a point of reference for medical concerns. Registering at a GP is free and is an important thing to do. This will enable your GP to process your registration and provide you with an NHS number in good time.
You must have an NHS number to obtain hospital treatment (non-emergency) and be referred to a bleeding disorder specialist for ongoing care and prescribed treatment. A hospital appointment can only be given following a referral letter from your GP. The letter will provide the bleeding disorder specialist with essential background information, such as your medical history. It will also contain details that the specialist needs to pay particular attention to.
If you have prescribed treatment/medication e.g., factor treatment, you MUST bring this with you as a referral to a local haemophilia centre from your GP can take weeks. Should you run out of treatment while waiting for your referral, please attend the A&E department of a hospital that has a haemophilia centre. This is important to ensure the A&E staff are able to liaise with the haemophilia centre and have you treated as quickly as possible.
UK treatment centres can be found here.
When to apply
When you can apply depends on whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.
Applying from outside the UK
The earliest you can apply for a visa is 6 months before you start your course.
You’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.
Applying from inside the UK
The earliest you can apply is 3 months before your course starts.
You must apply before your current visa expires. Your new course must begin within 28 days of your current visa expiring.
You’ll usually get a decision within 8 weeks.
How long you can stay
How long you can stay depends on the length of your course and what study you’ve already completed in the UK.
If you’re 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 5 years. If it’s below degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 2 years.
Staying longer in the UK
You may be able to:
- extend your visa if you’re eligible, for example to continue your studies in the UK
- switch to a Student visa from another visa if you’re already in the UK
- switch to a Graduate visa to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing your course
When you can travel to the UK
You can arrive 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 course lasts more than 6 months
You must not travel to the UK before the start date given on your visa, no matter when your course starts.
What you can and cannot do
- work as a student union sabbatical officer
You may be able to work – how much depends on what you’re studying and whether you’re working in or out of term-time.
- claim public funds (benefits) and pensions
- work in certain jobs, for example as a professional sportsperson or sports coach
- be self-employed
- study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school)
If your application is successful, you’ll be told what you can and cannot do on a Student visa.
Sponsors and sponsorship
- Students: if your education provider loses their sponsor licence
- UK visa sponsorship management system
Disclaimer: The content of this page has been provided by GOV.UK, and is for general information only. It is subject to change without notice.