A Step-by-Step Visa Guide for UK-Bound Students

Summer is here! And that means students who have decided to study in the UK will likely be on to one of the last steps in the process--applying for the visa.

This week I'm delighted to share a guest post written by Ashley Monaghan, the International Student Recruitment Manager for the Americas at King's College London.

Applying for any type of visa may seem like a daunting process, but Ashley's step by step breakdown shows that it's not that difficult at all.

By Ashley Monaghan

You’ve done it: achieved the coveted unconditional offer from your dream university across the pond.

You are ready to study your undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the UK. All that is standing in your way is a visa to get you there.

Formerly known as the Tier 4 Visa, the Student Visa is eligible to students 16 years old and over who have been offered an unconditional place on a full-degree course.

If you will be on a Study Abroad program (a short-term course for less than six months), if you hold a British passport, or if you are studying an English Language program, you will not need a student visa (but may need another type), so it’s important to first check if you need a visa with the UK government.

Step 1

First thing’s first—you need a CAS number to book your visa appointment. What is this number and how do you get it?

CAS is short for Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies and will come to you as a letter from your university in the form of an email or through your university’s Admissions portal.

This CAS letter contains your CAS number and basically states that the university will sponsor you during your studies.

You cannot book your visa appointment without your CAS number and passport. Once you have them, don’t delay!

Visa processing times take about three weeks typically, but we all understand the compounded delays that come with the pandemic, so be prepared to wait longer. You can also pay for premium expedited services.

The visa application is an online process and costs £348 ($492) at the time of publishing. If you are under 18 at the time of application, you will need written consent from your parents/guardians along with a copy of your birth certificate.

Although UK universities have the option to issue CAS numbers six months prior to the start of a program, most universities start issuing them three months prior.

King’s College London, for example, issues CAS numbers at the end of June to unconditional offer holders and most students receive theirs in July and August.

Step 2

This is a good time to mention proof of funds, which is the most common cause of visa denials if not followed correctly.

As part of your visa application, you must be able to prove that you have sufficient funds to cover your program cost for the year (9 months) as stated in your CAS letter.

You must also show you have £1,023/month ($1,448/month) in living costs for each month of your course that year (9 months) if you’re studying outside of London or $£1,334/month ($1,888/month) in living costs if you’re studying in London.

If you are using your own or your parent's/guardian's funds, you will be required to have held the required amount for at least 28 consecutive days and your bank statement must not be more than 31 days old on the date you submit your visa application.

Student Visa applicants will also pay for an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) along with their visa application, which covers healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS) for the duration of the visa.