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Pre-sessional visa and immigration information

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Read this page before you apply for a Pre-sessional course.

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You can learn more by reading useful visa information from UAL student advisers.

Online courses: Students joining courses delivered entirely online are not required to travel to the UK for their course. No visa is required for students to enrol on courses delivered entirely online.

Do I need a visa?

If you will travel to the UK on a passport issued by a country outside the UK or Ireland, you will need to a visa to enter the UK.

You can check the visa rules by reading guidance on visas from the UK government.

Note: For courses delivered entirely online, you do not need to travel to London. You do not need a visa.

Visa types

There are 2 types of visas available for students on Pre-sessional onsite courses:

You must choose the correct type of visa for you. It's not possible to change your immigration status after you arrive in the UK.

Note: If you hold an offer for an online main course, you are not eligible for a Student visa for Pre-sessional. A Student Visitor visa might be an option. If your main course is online, please choose an online Pre-sessional course or email us for guidance.

Standard Visitor visa

Standard Visitor visa will cover study on your Pre-sessional course only. Please make sure you understand what you can and cannot do on a Standard Visitor visa before entering the UK.

If you choose a Standard Visitor visa, you need to submit one of these English tests with your Pre-sessional application:

  • IELTS Academic
  • IELTS Academic for UKVI
  • PTE (Pearson Test of English Academic)
  • PTE (Person Test of English Academic) for UKVI
  • UAL Progress Test
  • TOEFL iBT / TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition
  • Trinity ISE
  • LanguageCert

(If you plan to study on a Level 3 Introduction course, Foundation Diploma or a Certificate of Higher Education, you will need IELTS Academic for UKVI for your main course.)

After Pre-sessional, you will need to apply for a Student visa for your main course.

You must leave the UK after your Pre-sessional course finishes. The rule is the same if you pass or fail.

If you pass your Pre-sessional course, you must apply for your Student visa for your main course in your home country.

Student visa

If you choose a Student visa, you must also choose a CAS type when you make your Pre-sessional application. Read the next section on CAS for more information.

If you choose a Student visa, you need to submit a Home Office Secure English Language Test with your Pre-sessional application. We accept these Secure English Language Tests (SELTS):

  • IELTS Academic for UKVI
  • PTE (Person Test of English Academic) for UKVI

CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies)

What is CAS?

A CAS is a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies. Your CAS number confirms you are being sponsored to study with UAL. You need a CAS number to apply for a Student visa. CAS is not used for Standard Visitor visas.

If you choose a Student visa, you must also choose a CAS type:

  • CAS for Pre-sessional only
  • Combined CAS

Note: UAL will not issue CAS for courses delivered entirely online.

CAS for Pre-sessional only

This CAS is available for these Pre-sessional courses:

  • 13 Week Pre-sessional Onsite
  • 9 Week Pre-sessional Onsite

This CAS allows you to apply for a Student visa for your Pre-sessional course only. After your Pre-sessional course, you will need another CAS to apply for another Student visa for your main course.

If you pass your Pre-sessional course, you will be given a new CAS so you can apply for a new visa for your main course. Most students can apply from inside the UK.

If you fail your Pre-sessional course, you will usually need to return to your home country and make a new visa application there. You can only apply for a new visa from inside the UK if you improve your English test scores and take an external 4-skills English test and achieve the scores needed for your main course.

Combined CAS

Combined CAS are available for these Pre-sessional courses:

  • 13 Week Pre-sessional Onsite
  • 9 Week Pre-sessional Onsite

A combined CAS allows you to apply for a Student visa that covers study for your Pre-sessional course and your UAL main course. However, you must pass your Pre-sessional course to be allowed to progress to your main course.

Applying for a Student visa with a combined CAS can be easier and cheaper than applying for 2 separate Student visas. However, there is a risk with a combined CAS. If you fail your 13 or 9 Week Pre-sessional Onsite course, you will not be able to study at UAL on any course in the 2022/23 academic year. We will report you to the Home Office; your visa stay will be ended and you will have to leave the UK.

To be eligible for a combined CAS, you must meet all the following conditions:

  • You are allowed to study under a Student visa.
  • Your Pre-sessional course is less than 3 months.
  • You have 1 accepted main course offer only.
  • Your only main course offer condition is to meet the required English level.
  • Your main course is RQF Level 6/Undergraduate or higher.
  • There is 1 month or less between the end of your Pre-sessional course and the start of your main course.
  • Your main course is not subject to validation (S2V).
  • You have not previously failed a Pre-sessional or EPIC course.
  • Your main course is not online.

How do I get a visa?

You must not apply for a Short-term study visa. The Short-term study visa is only for students who come to the UK to do an English language course between 6 and 11 months long.

You will need to choose a visa type and submit the correct English test result in your Pre-sessional application.

After we confirm your place on the course, we will email you the information you need to apply for a visa.

  • If you chose a Student visa, we will email you a CAS statement.
  • If you chose a Standard Visitor visa, we will email you a visa letter. (There is no CAS for a Visitor visa.)

We will email your CAS or visa letter about 2 weeks after we send you your Pre-sessional booking confirmation. We can’t issue CAS or visa letters earlier than 3 months before the start of a Pre-sessional course.

Do not apply for a visa or book a visa appointment until you have your CAS or visa letter.

Please read UAL’s visa guidance or contact our qualified UAL visa advisers at for advice on:

  • What to do before you apply for a visa.
  • How to apply for your visa.
  • What to do after receiving your visa.

If you are under 18 when making your visa application, please contact Student Advise Service. You must be 18 years or older at the start of your Pre-sessional course.

After you receive your visa, please check that you have been given the correct type of visa and that it has been issued for the correct length of time.

You must travel to the UK within the start date and the end date of your visa you received


    If you are a national of EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA you may use the eGates to enter the UK, however, it means you will not receive an immigration stamp on your visa as evidence of entry.

    It is very important that you retain some sort of evidence of entry to the UK such as travel ticket or boarding pass. We will ask you to provide this evidence at your enrolment.

I previously studied in the UK

If you are an international student and you have studied in the UK before, you must give full and clear information about your previous UK study. You will have given this with your main course application.

If your immigration history has changed since your main course application, please email us.

If your UK immigration history is complicated, we recommend you submit extra information or documents (for example: previous visas, CAS, IELTS or course certificates) with your Pre-sessional application. This will help us to process your application faster.

Previous language study on Tier 4 or Student visa

If your previous course in the UK was a language course and you had a Tier 4 or Student visa for that, and you now want to study Pre-sessional with a new Student visa, we need to check you meet UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) academic progression rules.

You must submit the CAS from your previous visa application. If you can’t find your old CAS, you must submit the old IELTS Academic for UKVI you submitted with the Tier 4/Student visa application for your previous language course.

You must also submit a new Home Office Secure English Language Test (SELT). Your new SELT must have a higher overall score than your old SELT.

(Exception: If you’re applying for Unconditional Pre-sessional, you might be able to submit a SELT or non-SELT. Please contact us for guidance:

Previous Pre-sessional or EPIC study

If you studied Pre-sessional or EPIC before and failed your course, you can’t ask for a Student visa with a combined CAS.

Current UK study

If you are a current international student at UAL or in the UK, you may need to return home before you make your Pre-sessional visa application. Please contact us for advice at

If you are currently studying on an academic main course in the UK, you need to submit a recent IELTS (or equivalent English test) result when you apply to Pre-sessional, as your level of English should now be higher.

If you want a new Student visa, you will need to submit a valid Home Office Secure English Language Test (SELT).

Please check your current course ends before you need to enrol on your Pre-sessional course.

Can I change my visa type?

You can’t change your visa type after we send you a Pre-sessional offer.

If you want to change your visa type you must email (or your representative office in your home country). You must say in your email that you understand the differences between the visa type you first requested and the visa type you now want.

You have 1 opportunity to apply for a Student visa for Pre-sessional. You will be sent 1 CAS. If your visa application is refused, you will not get a second CAS.

If you wish to change from onsite to online (or from online to onsite), you must withdraw your first application and submit a new one.


If you are unsure which visa is best for you, please email

UAL’s Student Advice Service has advisers specially trained on immigration issues. They can assist you with enquiries about visa and immigration matters.

The UK Government and UKCISA websites have the most up-to-date visa information. Because UK immigration rules are constantly changing, you should check these sites regularly for updates.