Different types of visas

If you are planning to come to the United Kingdom, you should know that there are different types of visas: asylum, visas for EU, EEA and Commonwealth, family visas, student visas, tourist and short stay visas, transit visas and work visas.

If you want to study in the UK and you are not form Switzerland or a country of the European Economic Area (EEA), you should apply for one of the following student visas.

Tier 4 (General) student visa

You can apply for this visa if you are 16 or over and you have been offered a place on a course. You must provide the following documents:

  • a current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • 1 passport-sized colour photograph with your name written on the reverse side
  • proof that you can support yourself and pay for your course – this will vary depending on your circumstances
  • proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if you’re under 18
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

Usually you should also prove your knowledge of the English language with at least level B1 test. If you are from one of the following countries you don’t need to prove it: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, USA.

How long you can stay in the UK with this visa depends on your course. If you want to extend your stay you should apply before your current visa expires.

The application costs £310 and you will get a decision within 3 weeks.

Tier 4 (Child) student visa

If you are aged between 4 and 17 and have a place on a course in the UK, you can apply for this type of visa. During your application you must provide the following documents:

  • a current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • 1 passport-sized colour photograph for yourself and for each parent or guardian applying with you, with names written on the reverse side
  • proof that you can support yourself and pay for your course – this will vary depending on your circumstances
  • proof of parental or other legal guardian consent
  • your tuberculosis (TB) test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

How long you can stay depends on your age and the length of your course. It is also possible to extend this type of visa for £422.

Usually you have to wait 3 weeks for the decision on your visa, if you want to extend your stay, the decision will be made within 8 weeks for online applications.

Student Visitor visa

If you applied for a short course in the UK and you are not an academic visitor, you will need a student visitor visa. You must provide the following documents:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • 1 passport-sized colour photograph
  • evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, eg bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months
  • details of where you intend to stay and your travel plans – you shouldn’t pay for accommodation or travel until you get your visa
  • your tuberculosis (TB) test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

With this type of visa you can stay either 6 months or 11 months (only for English language courses) in the UK. The 6 month standard visa costs £83, the 11 month extended visa £150. You should apply up to 3 months before your date of travel.