Visas and Immigration
If you are an international student from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and are not already living in the UK, you need a visa to study in the UK. The EEA consists of the European Union (EU) countries, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Extending your visa
If you are an international student (non EEA) currently living in the UK and need to extend your student visa, you should submit a Tier 4 visa application while you are still in the UK before your current visa expires.
When to apply for a visa
The earliest date you can apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student visa is 90 days before the start of your course. You should start to apply for a visa as soon as you receive an offer of study from us, as it can take several weeks to be issued.
What is a visa (entry clearance)?
A visa (also known as 'entry clearance') constitutes permission (or 'leave') to enter the UK and is granted when you make a successful application from a British Diplomatic post in your country.
A visa takes the form of a sticker or vignette in your passport, which shows information about your visa category next to the word 'type' (e.g. 'Tier 4 student'). When you receive your visa, make sure you have been given the correct type and for the correct duration. Check our Entry clearance stickers document to see examples of different types of stickers.
When you arrive in the UK your passport will be stamped with the date, the port of entry and the number of the immigration officer who processed your entry. Check our document about Arrival stamps in passports for examples of stamps you might receive.
Types of visas
There are three types of visas for students aged 18 years and over who wish to study in the UK. The category you need depends on your circumstances and the course you plan to study:
- Tier 4 (General) Student
Most students have this type of visa. It is for students aged 18 years and over who are coming to the UK for their post-16 education. You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student visa, from your home country or the UK if you are eligible.
- Student Visitor
This category is for students aged 18 years and over who come to the UK to study on courses of six months’ duration or less. You cannot work, extend your stay or switch and apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student visa while you are in the UK as a Student Visitor.
- Prospective Student
This category is for prospective students who have not been accepted on a course, but who need to come to the UK to visit an institution to finalise their course choice or take entrance exams. You must show that you have made contact with institutions in the UK. You can switch and apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student visa or child student visa while you are in the UK as a Prosepctive Student.
- Students under 18 years old
There are two types of visas for students under 18 years old: ‘Tier 4 (Child) Student’ and ‘Child Visitor’.
Tier 4 (General) Student Visa
Tier 4 was introduced on 31 March 2009 by the UKBA and replaces all previous student immigration categories.
You can apply for a Tier 4 student visa (also known as the 'Adult Student' visa) if you are studying a full-time degree or a course of 15 hours per week on weekdays (Monday to Friday) during the day. The course must be at NQF level 3 or above, or B2 in the European Framework (for English courses).
- You must apply from your country of residence or meet the rules to apply in the UK for an extension.
- You should be given permission to work a limited number of hours as part of it.
- You will be able to apply to extend this permission from inside the UK (if you move onto a suitable course within one month of the end of your visa).
- If you are under 18 years old, your application must be supported by your parent(s) or legal guardian.
- You must meet the financial requirements.
- You must meet the English language requirements.
- The University may be obliged to report non-enrolment, non-attendance etc (in specific circumstances).
How are the Tier 4 Student visa points worked out?
You must obtain 40 points in order to qualify for a Tier 4 Student visa. The 40 points are calculated as follows:
- 30 points are awarded for a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a Licensed Tier 4 Sponsor. You must submit any documents / qualifications listed in the CAS. Please see the Tier 4 Policy Guidance notes for what the CAS should contain.
- 10 points are awarded if you meet the financial requirements and you show evidence of this in one of the ways described in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance.
Student Visitor Permission (up to 6 months)
You can only apply for this visa if you intend to undertake a short course or a period of study that will be completed within six months.
- You can apply on entry to the UK if you are a non-visa national 2.
- Visa nationals 2 must apply from an appropriate British Diplomatic Post outside the UK.
- You will not be given permission to work (this includes unpaid work, internships, etc).
- You will not be able to extend this permission.
- You will have to leave the UK before your permission expires.
- The course or period of study does not need to meet the requirement of general student permission. It does not need to be a full-time course of study or need to consist of a minimum of 15 hours daytime study per week.
- The course or period of study can be undertaken at any time of the day or evening.
- You will need to show that you can maintain and accommodate yourself adequately with resources available to you, without recourse to public funds or taking employment. Alternatively, you need to show that you will be maintained and accommodated adequately by relatives or friends.
- You will need to show that you can meet the costs of the return or onward journey.
- You must be over 18 years old.
How to apply for a visa
The UK immigration rules for international students can be complex, but there is a lot of help available if you are coming to study at University of the Arts London (UAL).
- Your local UAL recruitment representative can offer you advice about applying for a visa.
- Your local British Council office can offer visa advice.
- Our UAL Student Advisers can help you if you encounter a problem while you are applying for a visa. In some cases, our Student Advisor will be able to contact Entry Clearance officers on your behalf. It is best to contact the Student Adviser as soon as you have a problem and before you receive a 'refusal'. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Our Student Advice Service has advisors specially trained in immigration issues and are there to help you thoughout your time as a student at University of the Arts London.
- The UKBA and UKCISA websites have the most up-to-date visa information. Immigration rules are constantly changing, so you should keep checking these sites for updates.
Student Advisers in the Student Advice and Funding Service are trained to give immigration advice. The OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) is an independent organisation that monitors this advice and service. For details, visit the OISC website.
The University is authorised to provide immigration advice and services by an order made under section 84 (4)(d) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (part V exemption:Educational Institutions and Health Sector Bodies) Order 2001 (Statutory 2001 No. 1403)