Visas and English language tests apply to many international applications. Find out what you need to do and when to apply for yours.

How to get a student visa

If you live outside the UK, you’ll need to get a student visa to study here – including if you’re an EEA or Swiss national. Once you’ve been offered a place on a course, the course provider will advise you on how to apply for your student visa from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

You can apply up to three months in advance of your course start date. It normally takes up to 15 days for you to receive a decision, but could be longer at peak times, so make sure you apply early enough.

However, there are a few things you need to do first before you can send off your visa application.

  1. Add your passport number to your UCAS application – either when you’re filling out your details, or when you’re offered a place on a course.
  2. Prove your English language skills – your chosen course provider can advise you whether you need to take a UKVI approved secure English language test, or an alternative test or Skype interview. If you are required to take a SELT this must be taken in one of the SELT centres approved by the UK Home Office. View the approved secure English language tests and test centres that meet the Home Office’s requirements.
  3. Accept an unconditional offer of a place on a course – then if your university or college has a Sponsor licence, they can give you Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
  4. Apply for a student visa – make sure you provide all the information and documents required – including your CAS (and English language test certificate if you needed one). You’ll also need to prove you can afford to study and live in the UK – check the UKVI financial requirements and our finance and support information.

Apply for a student visa

Approved test providers

If you're in the UK, you can only take a SELT with one of the following providers:

If you're outside of the UK, you can only take a SELT with one of the following providers:

Arriving in the UK

When you arrive at passport control here in the UK, you should expect Border Force officers to ask you simple questions about your studies or your stay in the UK. To help you plan for your first arrival in the UK as a student and what to expect, UKCISA offers helpful preparation and arrival guidance here

Working in the UK after your studies

You might be able to apply for other visas after your course if you’d like to stay in the UK to work. After completing your studies in the UK, international students may be eligible to apply for the Graduate visa or Skilled Worker visa.