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Pre-sessional visa and immigration information

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This page contains important information about visas and immigration for Pre-sessional. Make sure you understand this information before you apply.

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Do you need a visa?

For on campus (in London) Pre-sessional courses:

  • You need a visa to travel to the UK if you hold a passport issued by a country outside the UK or Ireland.
  • You must be in London for whole course.
  • You can check the full visa rules by reading guidance on visas from the UK government.

For online Pre-sessional courses:

  • You don’t need a visa.
  • You don’t need to travel to London.
  • Visas aren’t available for online Pre-sessional.

Visa types

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

You must choose the correct type of visa for you. (A Short-term study visa is not allowed for Pre-sessional. This visa is for English language courses lasting longer than 6 months and up to 11 months).

Standard Visitor visa

Standard Visitor visa will cover study on your Pre-sessional course only.

Important: During your Standard Visitor visa application, you will be asked the following question: "What is the main reason for your visit to the UK?" You must select the "Short-term study (up to 6 months)" option. Do not select any other options.

After Pre-sessional, you must:

  • Leave the UK, whether you pass or fail.
  • Apply for your main course Student visa in your home country.

Accepted English tests:

  • IELTS Academic
  • IELTS Academic for UKVI
  • PTE Academic
  • PTE Academic for UKVI
  • TOEFL iBT / TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition
  • Trinity ISE
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT

If your main course is a Level 3 Introduction course, Foundation Diploma or a Certificate of Higher Education, you can use Pre-sessional to meet your UAL language requirement. However, you also must provide an IELTS Academic for UKVI, or equivalent approved Home Office Secure English Language Test (SELT), for your main course visa.

Be sure you understand what you can and cannot do on a Standard Visitor visa before entering the UK.

Student visa

Student visa can cover study on:

  • Pre-sessional only


  • Pre-sessional and your main course.

This depends on your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) type. More information on CAS.

A Student visa requires you to have a SELT.

Accepted SELTs:

  • IELTS Academic for UKVI
  • PTE Academic for UKVI
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT

If your main course is online, you can’t get a Student visa for Pre-sessional.

CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)

A CAS is a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. Your CAS number confirms you are being sponsored to study with UAL.

CAS is only for Student visa (not Standard Visitor visas).

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

  • CAS for Pre-sessional only
  • Combined CAS

CAS for Pre-sessional only

Available for:

  • 9 Week Pre-sessional On Campus.
  • Unconditional Pre-sessional On Campus.

With this CAS, you can apply for a Student visa that covers your Pre-sessional course only.

If you pass Pre-sessional:

  • UAL will send you a new CAS to apply for a new visa for your main course.
  • Most students can apply from inside the UK.

If you fail Pre-sessional:

  • You will probably 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:

  • Improved your English test scores on Pre-sessional, and
  • Take an external 4-skills English test and achieve the scores needed for your main course.

Combined CAS

Available for:

  • 9 Week Pre-sessional On Campus
  • Unconditional Pre-sessional On Campus

With a combined CAS, you can apply for a Student visa that covers:

  • Your Pre-sessional and UAL main course.
  • However, you must pass Pre-sessional 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 Pre-sessional, you will not be able to study at UAL in the 2023/24 academic year.
  • We will report you to the Home Office; your visa will be cancelled and you will need to leave the UK.

Eligibility for combined CAS:

  • You will apply for 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 has a language condition only (no academic conditions).
  • Your main course is undergraduate or postgraduate level (not pre-degree level).
  • 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 to get a visa

1. Choose a visa type

In your Pre-sessional application, choose a visa type and submit the required English test result.

2. Wait for booking confirmation

Two to 3 weeks after we send you your Pre-sessional booking confirmation, we will email you information to use for your visa application.

  • If you chose a Student visa, we send you a CAS statement.
  • If you chose a Standard Visitor visa, we send you a Standard Visitor visa letter.

We can’t issue CAS or visa letters earlier than 3 months before the start of a Pre-sessional course.

Please wait until you have your CAS or visa letter before you apply for a visa or book a visa appointment.

3. Apply for a visa

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

  • Preparation for your visa application.
  • How to make a visa application.
  • What to do after receiving your visa.

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

After you receive your visa, check 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 the visa you received.

Previous or current study in the UK

If you have ever studied in the UK, you must give full information about it in your application.

Previous language study on Tier 4 or Student visa

If you 1) previously studied a language course in the UK on a Tier 4 or Student visa and 2) now want to study Pre-sessional on a new Student visa, you must submit:

  • The CAS from your previous visa application
  • The SELT you submitted with your previous visa application
  • A new SELT. Your new SELT must have a higher overall score than your previous SELT.

Accepted SELTs:

  • IELTS Academic for UKVI
  • PTE Academic for UKVI
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT

Previous Pre-sessional or EPIC study

If you previously failed Pre-sessional or EPIC, you aren’t eligible for a Student visa with a combined CAS.

Current UK study

If you are currently studying in the UK, you must:

  • Submit the English test result you used to join your current course.
  • Submit a recent IELTS (or equivalent English test) result. Your recent test must have a higher overall score than your previous test.
    • If you want a Student visa, your recent test must be a SELT.
  • Email to ask if you need to return home before you apply for your Pre-sessional visa.
  • Check that your current course ends before the Pre-sessional course enrolment date.

Travelling to London


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


When you arrive at an UK port (example: Heathrow Airport), you will pass through Boarder Control. There you might see automated ePassport gates (also called Gates).

You can use eGates if you are a national of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, or the USA.

However, you will not receive an immigration stamp on your visa. Therefore, you must retain evidence of entry to the UK, (example: travel ticket, boarding pass). You must provide this evidence at enrolment.


When you receive your Pre-sessional On Campus offer, you can apply for Accommodation.

Visa changes

Before we send you a Pre-sessional offer

It might be possible to change your visa.

Email (or your representative office in your home country). Your email must say:

  • what visa type you want to change to,
  • that you understand the differences between the two visa types.

After we send you a Pre-sessional offer

Your visa cannot be changed.

After you apply for a Student visa:

No visa changes and no new CAS.

You can make only 1 Student visa application for Pre-sessional. If your visa application is refused, you will not get a second CAS.


Unsure which visa to choose?


Other questions about visas and immigration

Contact UAL’s Student Advice Service specially trained advisers.

UK immigration rules and updates

UK immigration rules are constantly changing. Check their sites regularly for updates:

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