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Students

Employment of students

Can I be employed under a student visa?

Whether or not your student visa permits you to be employed will depend on your personal circumstances and the course that you are studying.

Generally speaking, if you are enrolled on a full time course of study, at degree level or above, you are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time.

If you or your employer are unsure about your ability to work under your student visa, please contact us.

Can I work full time with a student visa?

If your visa permits you to work (see above), you are usually permitted to work restricted hours during term-time and can then work unlimited hours outside of term-time.

If you or your employer are unsure about your ability to work under your student visa, please contact us.

What counts as inside and outside ‘term-time’?

Each education provider has a list of term dates and vacation dates for each course of study. These dates determine when your term time starts and finishes.

What information do I need to give my employer to prove that I can work?

Your employer will need to carry out a right to work check before your employment begins. Please see the Evidencing RTW Checks section of the visa hub.

When is the earliest date I can apply for a Student visa?

If you are applying from within the UK, you can apply up to three months prior to the start of your course.

If you are applying from outside the UK, you can apply up to six months before the start of your course.

What are my visa options after my course of study ends?

Most commonly, students switch to a Skilled Worker visa (formerly the Tier 2 General visa). This requires you to obtain a job offer from an employer which holds a sponsor licence. More information about the Skilled Worker visa can be found here.

If your plan is to start your own business in the UK, the start-up or innovator visa may be more suitable. For further information about these visas, please see here.

There are also alternative visa options including, but not limited to the Temporary Worker (Youth Mobility Scheme) and Temporary Worker (Government Authorised Exchange) visas. For further information about these visas and your options after your studies end, please contact us.

Visas to study in the UK – Overview

Do I need a visa to study in the UK?

From 1 January 2021, all non-British nationals need a visa to study in the UK (please see below).

Do I need to be sponsored for a study visa?

Yes, you need to receive sponsorship from your education provider before you can apply for your visa to study in the UK.

How do I know if my education provider can sponsor me for a student visa?

You can find a list of all of the education providers that are registered with UK Visas & Immigration to sponsor international students here. You will then be able to contact them directly or review their webpage for more information about sponsorship.

What is a “CAS” (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)?

A CAS is a reference number received from your education provider when you are offered a place on a course and sponsored. You will need the CAS number to input into your visa application form online.

Can I use a CAS more than once?

No, a new CAS is required every time you apply for a Student visa.

How long before my course begins can I travel to the UK?

You must apply for the visa within six months from the date that you receive your CAS. However you can apply for the visa at any time up to six months before the course start date on your CAS.

You will typically receive a decision from the Home Office on your visa within three weeks from the date of your application if you are applying from outside the UK.

Can I obtain a CAS to extend my studies in the UK?

You will be able to obtain a CAS if you are:

  • resitting exams or repeating modules
  • applying for the first time to a new institution to complete a course you started at an institution that lost its sponsorship status
  • applying to extend your stay to complete your studies because you have done (or want to do) a work placement or study abroad programme
  • completing a PhD or other doctorate that you started studying under your last study visa
  • applying after working as a student union sabbatical officer to complete a qualification you started studying under your last study visa
  • continuing your medical, dentistry or medical science degree after completing an intercalated course
Can I obtain a CAS to start a new course of study in the UK?

You will be able to obtain a CAS if your course is one of the following:

  • at a higher academic level than your previous course
  • at the same level and related to your previous course or career
  • intercalated to a medicine, dentistry or medical science course you started studying under a study visa
Can I apply for ILR/to settle in the UK with a student visa?

Student visas do not lead to ILR/settlement in the UK. You may however be eligible to settle in the UK based on being in the UK legally for 10 years. Please see the ILR section of the hub for further information.

Can I bring my family to the UK with me under my student visa?

If you obtain the student visa, your family members (known as “dependants”) might be able to apply to join or stay in the UK with you if they are your:

  • spouse or partner; and/or
  • children under the age of 18.

In order to be able to apply for a visa for your dependants, you (the student and main visa holder), must be:

  • sponsored on a master’s (or equivalent) level course or above that lasts 9 months or more; or
  • a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months; or
  • a Doctorate Extension Scheme student.

You must also show that your dependants can be supported while they are in the UK. Each dependant must show that they have a certain amount of money available to them and that it has been in your or their bank account for at least 28 days before the application. The maintenance sum will depend on individual circumstances. Please contact us for more information.

Tier 4 (General) student visa route

What is the Tier 4 (General) student visa route?

This is the visa route for students wanting to study in the UK which was open for applications until 5 October 2020.  It was replaced by the Student visa route (see below).

Can I extend my Tier 4 (General) student visa?

If you already have a Tier 4 (General) student visa and are in the UK, you will only be able to extend the visa if you can show that:

  • you meet the eligibility requirements of this visa (see above);
  • you are in the UK; and
  • you have a sponsor.

Tier 4 (General) student visa holders can extend their visas under the Student visa route (introduced on 5 October 2020) without having to apply for the Student visa.

You can extend your visa under the Student visa route for 5 years (please see below). You will need a new CAS number to extend your visa (please see above).

Student visa route

What is the Student visa route?

On 5 October 2020, the Tier 4 (General) student visa route was replaced by the “Student visa” route.

The Student visa is for applicants aged 16 or over who want to study in the UK on a course of further or higher education, a pre-sessional English course, a recognised foundation programme, on the Doctorate Extension Scheme or to take an elected post as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.

These questions focus on applicants for higher education courses. For other types of student visa application including doctorate extension scheme, child visas and short-term visas, please contact us.

Who does the Student visa route apply to?

The Student visa route applies to everyone apart from UK citizens and so is applicable to EEA nationals and non-EEA nationals.

How is the Student visa route different to the old Tier 4 (General) Student visa route?

The key changes to student visas are as follows:

  • The Student visa route applies to both non-EEA and EEA nationals who wish to come to the UK to study.
  • The list of countries which are exempt from the requirement to provide an ATAS certificate (see below) has been extended to include EEA countries and Switzerland.
  • You can apply for your visa up to six months before the start of your course if you are applying from outside the UK (see above).
  • There is no longer a time limit on studying courses at postgraduate level but the 5 year limit for degree level courses still remains.
  • You are not required to provide evidence of academic qualifications used to obtain sponsorship if you will be studying at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance.
  • The rules in relation to switching to a Student visa from within the UK have been expanded (see below).
  • There are now more ways in which you are able to satisfy the English language requirement (see below).
  • There are also more ways in which you can satisfy the maintenance/financial requirement (see below).
I am an EU citizen, do I need a visa to study in the UK?

Yes, unless you are eligible to apply for an alternative visa based on your EU status, for example under the EU Settlement Scheme.

 

What is the financial requirement for the Student visa route?

The financial requirement to be met is quite complicated and depends on a number of factors.

The starting point is that if you are applying for a student visa to come to the UK or to remain in the UK where you have been here with a previous visa for less than 12 months, you must provide evidence to show that you have at least:

  • £1,334 for each month of your course, up to a maximum of 9 months where you are applying to study in London; and
  • £1,023 for each month of your course, up to a maximum of 9 months where you are applying to study outside of London.

You must also show that you have sufficient funds to pay any outstanding course fees as stated on the CAS.

If you have already been living in the UK with a valid visa for 12 months or more at the time you apply, you will automatically meet the financial requirement and do not need to provide documentary evidence.

In addition, students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland are not required to meet the financial requirement, nor are students applying as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer or to study on a recognised foundation programme as a doctor or dentist in training.

For further information about deposits that can be offset from this financial requirement and what evidence to provide to show that you meet the requirement, please contact us.

What is the English language requirement for the Student visa route?

Unless an exemption applies, for courses of study at UK bachelor’s degree level of above, you must meet level B2 on the CEFR in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

You can meet this requirement by:

  • being a national of a country approved by UKVI as being a majority English-speaking country;
  • passing an approved English language test;
  • having successfully met the English language requirement in a previous UK visa application;
  • having a qualifying academic qualification awarded in the UK or taught or researched in English
  • having obtained a GCSE, A level or Scottish Highers in English in the UK when you were under 18 years old; or
  • being assessed and approved as meeting the requirement by your sponsor.
What is the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)?

Some applicants are required to obtain an ATAS certificate in order to be able to apply for their Student visa. This is required for courses which lead to a master’s degree, PhD or other postgraduate qualification or for periods of study or research which are part of an overseas postgraduate qualification. It applies to certain academic subjects only.

Nationals of the following countries, are exempt from the requirement to provide an ATAS certificate: UK, EU countries, EEA countries, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA.

Under the Student visa route, how long am I able to study for in the UK?

This visa permits you to study for up to 5 years for degree level courses and there is no limit on how long you can study at postgraduate level.

Can I switch from my current UK visa to the Student visa?

Yes, you can apply for a Student visa from within the UK if you are present in the UK and have a valid UK visa which is not one of the following visa types:

  • visitor
  • short-term student
  • parent of a child student
  • seasonal worker
  • domestic worker in a private household
  • visa granted outside the Immigration Rules
What documents do I need to provide with my Student visa application?

In addition to providing your CAS number, evidence of meeting the English language and financial requirements (if applicable), you will need to provide your passport and may need to provide additional documentation depending on your circumstances.

For further information regarding your personal circumstances, please contact us.

 

Graduate Route visa

What is the Graduate Route?

The Graduate Route is a new visa route which launched on 1 July 2021. It  allows eligible students to work, or look for work, in any role at any skill and salary level, after completing their studies in the UK.

When did the Graduate Route open?

The new Graduate Route opened for applications on 1 July 2021. Applications are made online on the gov.uk website on the specified form “Graduate”. The applicant will upload their own documents and complete a live scan (similar to a ‘selfie’).

What are the eligibility requirements for the Graduate Route?

Broadly speaking, to be eligible for this route, applicants must:

  • have a valid UK Student visa or Tier 4 visa;
  • have successfully completed a course of study at undergraduate level or above (or have completed a ‘relevant qualification’ – see below);
  • have completed the course of study inside the UK (subject to the Covid-19 concessions); and
  • have studied at an approved UK higher education provider.
What is a ‘relevant qualification’?

The following courses are deemed to be ‘relevant qualifications’:

  • a law conversion course validated by the Joint Academic Stage Board in England and Wales (or the Solicitors Regulation Authority as it is now known);
  • the Legal Practice Course in England and Wales;
  • the Solicitors Course in Northern Ireland;
  • a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland;
  • the Bar Practice Course in England and Wales;
  • the Bar Course in Northern Ireland;
  • a foundation programme in Medicine or Dentistry;
  • a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE);
  • a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE);
  • a professional course requiring study at UK bachelor’s degree level or above in a profession with reserved activities that is regulated by UK law or UK public authority. Professional roles that have reserved activities include (but are not limited to) medical doctors, architects, lawyers, teachers and nurses.
Is there an English language or maintenance requirement?

No, there is no maintenance requirement and applicants do not need to demonstrate English language ability.

How much will it cost to apply?

The application fee is £700 and applicants will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge of £624 per year. The full amount needs to be paid at the time of applying. Dependants will also be required to pay the application fee, as well as the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Can I apply for the Graduate Route from overseas?

No, applications must be made from inside the UK. Those who apply from outside the UK will be rejected and refused entry to the UK and may be prevented from applying under the Graduate route in the future. In addition, application fees may not be refunded.

Do I need to complete the course in the UK?

To be eligible, applicants must have studied in the UK for a minimum period of time. The minimum period of time depends on the length of the course that the student is studying.

For courses of 12 months or less, the student must have studied in the UK for the full duration of the course.

For courses longer than 12 months, the student must have studied in the UK for at least 12 months.

Note, this requirement will not be breached where students have completed a permitted study abroad programme, or where they are studying remotely due to COVID-19 (see below).

What if I have been unable to enter the UK due to Coronavirus?

There are Coronavirus concessions for students unable to travel to the UK, and complete their studies in the UK, as a result of the pandemic:

  • Applicants who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or Spring 2021 via distance learning, and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course will be able to make a Graduate application if they make a successful Student visa application and arrive in the UK either before their visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner.
  • Applicants who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who already have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make a Graduate application as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their permission.
  • Applicants who commence a course of 12 months or less in Autumn 2021 or Spring 2022 via distance learning from overseas must enter the UK no later than 6 April 2022 and complete that course of study in the UK with permission as a Student to be eligible for the Graduate Route. The current guidance states that students should travel to the UK once they are able to do so.

Applicants sponsored for a course lasting longer than 12 months will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate route as a result of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 or any distance learning which took place overseas between 27 September 2021 and 6 April 2022. If a Student’s current permission expires prior to 6 April 2022, they must enter the UK prior to the expiry of their Student permission rather than 6 April 2022.

Do I need a job offer to apply for the Graduate Route?

No, the Graduate Route is unsponsored, meaning applicants do not need a job offer to apply for the route. There are no minimum salary requirements and graduates on this route are able to work flexibly, switch jobs and develop their career in the UK.

What are the Conditions of Grant for this visa?

You are allowed to take up extra study, but you cannot study with a student sponsor on a course which would meet the requirements of a Student visa, and you cannot study at a state school.

Work (including self-employment and voluntary work) is permitted, apart from work as a professional sportsperson.

You can travel out of, and re-enter, the UK whilst holding valid permission as a Graduate.

You cannot access public funds.

How long can I stay in the UK under the Graduate Route?

Students who complete a course at bachelor’s or master’s level will be able to stay in the UK for 2 years. Doctoral students will be able to stay for 3 years.

This visa cannot be extended but applicants may be able to switch to the Skilled Worker route, or another route, from within the UK, if they are eligible.

What about dependants?

You cannot bring new dependants with you under the Graduate Route.

Dependants already in the UK as a Student dependant may apply as a dependant partner or child of a Graduate.

Children born in the UK during the last grant of Student permission can also apply as a dependant child of the Graduate.

Is there a maintenance requirement for Dependants?

No, dependants are not required to meet any financial requirement.

Will time spent in the UK under the Graduate route lead to ILR/settlement?

No. Please note however that time spent in the UK under the Graduate route will count towards residence in the UK under the ’10 year route’. If you would like further information regarding this, please contact one of our immigration experts.

 

How long will my application take to be decided?

You should receive a decision within 8 weeks.

When should I make my application?

You should apply once your student sponsor has sent you your final course results and has notified the Home Office that you have successfully completed your course of study. You do not have to wait until you have graduated to apply.

If your visa expires after you have applied to the Graduate route, you will be permitted to remain in the UK whilst your application is being considered.

What if I cannot apply online?

Those unable to use the app will need to visit a UK Visas and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) centre to complete the application process. You will be told how to book this when you apply.

You will need the CAS number from your current Student or Tier 4 visa to apply. If you do not know your CAS number, please contact your university.

How will I receive my decision?

If you applied using the digital route, you will receive a digital status if your application is successful. You will receive an e-mail confirming your digital status and this will include a PDF of your decision letter. Visa nationals will also receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

If you applied by attending a UKVCAS to enrol your biometrics and upload your documents, you will receive a BRP only.

Disclaimer

Given the fast pace of change, we would stress that this information is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

As a hub, we have included references to articles and explainers from third parties. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.