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How to apply for a UK visa

Check your visa type

To apply for a UK visa, the very first thing you need to do is to check the type of visa you are going to apply for. Use the UK Visas and Immigration website to check the kind of visa you would require. To complete the process, you need to have a list of documents. Each visa type requires a different kind of documentation, so be careful while checking your visa type. Also, you will have to get your documents translated if they are not in English.

Apply for your visa through Gov.uk

Once you are ready to apply, visit the UK Visas and Immigration website. You need to ensure that you have a proper record of your travel history with documents to support each trip that you have taken. If you are applying for a visa for your family or other relatives, you need to share all their details along with the travel history.

Book an appointment

As a part of your visa application, you need to book an appointment in order to record your fingerprints and photo at a visa application center. This is known as “biometric information”. You may also need to go for a short interview if you are applying for a student visa (Tier 4).

Pay your visa fees

Once you have filed your application and booked your appointment, you need to pay for your visa application. This can be done online with your Gov.uk application.

Choose your services

Once you are done paying your visa fees, you will be given a reference number. This number will usually start with GWF. When you have that number, it would be easy for you to monitor your upcoming visits to the visa application center,

Visit the application center

Arrive 15 minutes early to attend the interview for your visa application. Remember to bring a printed copy of your visa application along with a valid passport or a travel document having at least one page that is blank on both sides. Remember to bring all the supporting documents along with you. At the center, you need to submit your fingerprints and photograph which is known as biometric information collection. Your visa won’t be processed without the biometric information.

Track your application

You can always track your visa application as you will receive email updates about the same. If you wish to get detailed tracking information, you can always opt for SMS updates.

Receive your visa documents

After your visa application is made, you can collect the documents from the visa application center. You have to collect the documents in person or take the help of courier. If you are going to collect the documents yourself, you need to bring the receipt issued by the visa application and also a form of Government identification.

How much is the UK visa fee?

For a Short-term student visa, the cost is-

  • £97 for a 6-month visa
  • £186 for an 11-month visa

For a General student visa (Tier-4) the cost is-

£348 to apply for this type of visa from outside the UK. You must pay £348 per person for dependants.

You also need to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application fees. You need to check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

How long does the UK visa take?

For short-term study visa-

You can always apply for a visa up to three months before the date of your travel to the UK. Within 3 weeks you are expected to get a decision on your visa application.

Tier-4 general visa

For tier-4 general visa, the application type and the time for a decision is as follows-

Application type    Time for a decision

Standard                8 weeks

Priority                    10 days

Premium                Up to 24 hours

What are the requirements for the UK student visa?

For tier-4 general visa-

You can apply for the tier-4 general visa when you are in the UK and 16 years or more in age.

The other criteria include-

  • You have been offered a place on a particular course with a licensed Tier-4 sponsor
  • You can read, write and understand English fluently
  • You have enough money to manage expenses and pay for your course
  • You are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland

Apart from the above-mentioned requirements, the documents required are-

  • A current passport or other valid travel documents
  • Proof that you can support yourself and also pay for your course
  • Parental or legal guardian consent, if you are under 18
  • Proof of your relationship with your parent or guardian if you are under 18
  • Your tuberculosis test results if you are from the country where you have to take the test. For more information, you can visit the Government website. 

Additionally, for your visa, you need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides. Depending on your requirements, you may need to provide additional documents for your visa.

For short-term study visa-

You can apply for a short-term study visa if –

  • You are opting for a short course of study in the UK
  • You are outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland
  • You have received an admission offer to attend a program at an accepted university
  • You have enough money to support yourself without working or taking help from public funds. Your friends or relatives may also support you during your course of stay
  • You can pay for your return or onward journey

If you are under 18-

  • You need to make your own arrangements for your travel and stay in the UK\
  • You have permission from your parent or guardian to stay in the UK

How can I track my UK visa application?

Checking For UK Visa Status Online

Step 1: Visit the link https://iasservices.org.uk/track-uk-visa-status/.
Step 2: You need proof like a passport number or visa reference number (GWF number). GWF is a unique application number which is given to the applicant at the time of submission of your application.
Step 3: An applicant can enter and track the status of his or her application with the help of above-mentioned details
What is priority visa for the UK?
If you are in a hurry to get your visa, you can always use UK Visas and Immigration’s Priority Visa service for study or work purpose. This will always put your application in front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process.

UK Visas and Immigration decides based on your Priority Visa Application and get in touch you when the passport is ready. This is usually done within 5 working days from the day you submit your biometric information. However, under certain circumstances, you may have to wait for some time for the decision making process.

What documents are required for the UK visa?

General student visa-

The following documents are required for a tier-4 general visa-

  • A current passport or other valid travel documents
  • Substantial proof of the fact that you can support yourself and also pay for your course
  • Parental or legal guardian consent, if you are under 18
  • Proof of your relationship with your parent or guardian if you are under 18
  • Your tuberculosis test results if you are from the country where you have to undergo the test. For more information, you can visit the Government website. 

Short-term study visa

When you apply for a short-term study visa, you need to submit the following documents-

  • A current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • Evidence to support that you can support yourself for the trip (You need to provide payslips or bank statements for the last 6 months as proof)
  • Details of your travel plans and where you intend to stay. You should not pay for accommodation or travel until you get your visa
  • Your tuberculosis results if you are coming from the country where you have to take the test or you are visiting the UK for more than 6 months. For more information, you can visit the Government website. 
  • If you are under 18 years of age, you need to provide contact details for at least one parent or guardian

How early can you apply for a UK Visa?

The earliest you can apply is three months before you travel. It is expected that you should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

Do I need to book my flight before applying for a UK visa?

It is advised not to book any airfare/hotel until your UK visa is approved. But, the visa application process demands you to submit a proper travel plan as a part of the required document list.

Is travel insurance mandatory for the UK?

You do not need separate travel insurance for your visa application.

Can I work in the UK with a student visa?

Non-EU students who plan to stay in the UK after they have graduated should apply for a work visa from UK Visa and Immigration. There are several visas that you can apply for, the most common one being Tier-2 General Visa. This is considered to be the primary visa in the UK after you have completed your studies. This is applicable to recent graduates with a Bachelor’s, Masters or PhD from a recognized UK university.

If you are a student pursuing PhD at a university, you can apply to stay in the UK for a further period of 12 months after completing your course. You will be sponsored by your university and you will have no restrictions when it comes to working rights except for a few professions like doctors or dentists.

If you are thinking of working part-time while you are on a UK student visa, there are certain restrictions which are as follows-

  • Work for maximum of 20 hours per week of paid or unpaid work during the course term for degree students
  • Work for maximum of 10 hours per week of paid/unpaid work during the course term for language center students
  • Full-time work is permitted only during vacations
  • You can’t work full time until you have received a work permit (Tier 2)
  • Self-employment like any freelance or consultancy work is not permitted

How much does a student earn in the UK?

With a minimum wage(7.20 pounds per hour), you should be able to earn 432 pounds per month. Even after taxes, if at all they take it, you should be able to get at least 400 pounds. It is not a very good amount but is sufficient to pay your rent, bills, and food, considering you live frugally.

Can I get work permit after study in the UK?

There are many options available for international students who wish to work in the UK after their studies. It is required for you to apply for a visa extension if you wish to stay in the UK for work. Some of the common options are-

Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme

This is for students who have nearly completed their PhD and wish to remain in the UK for a further period of 12 months to work, or look for work or set up a business can stay up to 12 months from the course completion date. The sponsorship is provided by the university during this duration.

Tier 2 (General)

This is considered to be the main immigration route to work in the UK. The visa is usually linked to a specific job and the employer. You can stay up to 5 years with your Tier 2 visa and the sponsorship will be provided by the Tier 2 licensed employer.

Is IELTS required for a student visa for the UK?

Yes, it is required. If you are applying for a Tier 4 Student Visa to enroll directly for a bachelor or postgraduate degree course at a Tier 4 Sponsor university, you must meet the English language level set by the institution. All British universities and colleges accept IELTS results. Tier 4 Student Visa applicants can directly apply to the UK universities with an IELTS result from more than 1,200 IELTS test locations that are present worldwide.

How long can you stay in the UK after study?

The rules for international students wishing to remain in the UK after their studies depend on the course type you are applying for. So, for example, if you have got a Tier 4 student visa, you get to stay for four more months after your course. If the course is 6-12 months long, you can stay up to 2 months after your course is over.

What are Tier 4 students?

You can apply for a student visa if you wish to study a full-time course in the UK. Usually, student visas are not issued for part-time courses. A student’s eligibility is calculated using a points-based rules system called a Tier 4 Student Visa. Usually, a student needs 40 points to apply for a student visa. This can be achieved by-

  • Course confirmation: A student must receive a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a university approved by UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI). All universities are either given or they have applied for Highly Trusted Status (HTS) on the UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor list (30 points).
  • Funding: You need to provide evidence of funding to pay for both your course tuition fees and your monthly living costs (10 points).

Students who wish to apply for this particular type of visa for their higher studies in the UK are the Tier 4 students. You need to submit your Tier 4 visa application in UK Visa & Immigration website to complete the online application process.

Can I travel around Europe with a UK student visa?

You cannot travel around Europe with a UK student visa. If you wish to travel to Europe during your stay, you need to apply for a Schengen visa. The Schengen visa permits a visitor to obtain one visa to visit a number of designated countries within the EEA. In order to find out if you require a Schengen visa, you need to visit the UK embassy website of the country that you wish to visit. There are 26 member countries in the Schengen visa scheme:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • The Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Is there an interview for UK student visa?

Interviews generally take place when you attend a visa application center to provide your biometric information. Usually, a Home Office member of staff will ask you about your course, where you wish to study, the reasons for studying in the UK, and how you will finance your study. Interviews are conducted in English and usually via video link. Your answers will be typed and later used to evaluate if you are a genuine student when the decision process is on your Tier 4 student visa application. The Entry Clearance Officer needs to be satisfied with the fact that you are a genuine student and your ability to speak, read and understand English is at the correct level. Otherwise, you might be called for a further interview and your entry clearance application may be refused.

So, you might receive an email asking you to attend an interview as part of the application process. Remember to check your email regularly as your application can be refused if you are asked to attend an interview and you do not do so without providing a valid explanation.

Do Indian students get jobs in the UK?

Not many opportunities are available when it comes to jobs in the UK after your higher studies. But the brighter side lies in the fact that if you opt for an internship program, and work hard, there are higher chances of getting jobs. Some of the tips that you need to follow while looking for a job in the UK are as follows-

  • Try to apply for jobs early when you are in your final year
  • Think about what sets you apart and utilize those skills to find a job
  • Be flexible and resilient even when you are rejected
  • Networking is very important to find a job. Utilize your university careers service, visit international student-focused careers fairs and introduce yourself to alumni networks who are working in the UK.