What is a Visa?
If you need a United Kingdom visa you must apply for one before you travel to the United Kingdom. Even when you hold a visa you will still need to pass through immigration control when you arrive. But if you are holding a visa you will not be refused permission to enter unless there has been some change in your circumstances or you gave false information or did not disclose important facts when you obtained the visa. Holders of visas may also be refused on medical grounds, if they have a criminal record, if they are subject to a deportation order or if there are other exceptional reasons why they should not be admitted.
When you arrive in the United Kingdom, you may be questioned by an Immigration Officer so take all relevant documents in your hand luggage.
How to apply for a Student Visa
Do I need a Visa?
If you are a national of one of the countries listed in leaflet INF 1 or if you are stateless or hold a non-national travel document or a passport issued by an authority not recognised by the UK you must have a valid UK visa on each occasion you enter the UK, unless you qualify for exemption as explained in INF 1. It is not possible to switch from visitor to student status once in the UK. You must therefore have the correct visa before you travel.
Other nationals (such as those from the European Union) do not have to have a visa to study in the UK. However, you will have to satisfy the immigration officer on arrival in the UK that you qualify for entry. If you are in any doubt about your eligibility you are advised to apply for a visa before you travel.
You must be able to support and accommodate yourself and any dependants and pay for your studies without working in the UK and without recourse to public funds, except that:
- it is acceptable for support and accommodation and the cost of your studies to be provided by relatives or friends in the UK; and
- the income from part time work provided and guaranteed by a publicly funded institution of further or higher education in the United Kingdom at which you are studying may be taken into account when assessing your financial means.
It is not necessary to have finalised your arrangements but you must intend to study at a university, a publicly funded college of further or higher education, independent school or other genuine private educational institution. You must also be able to follow your intended course.
Your course of study should occupy the whole or a substantial part of your time (at least 15 hours a week organised daytime study of a single subject or of directly related subjects leading to a particularly qualification).
You must intend to leave the UK when your studies are completed.