The tier 4 visa has been replaced by the UK student visa. Click here to read more.
The UK has 3 universities in the Top 10 universities of the world according to the Times Higher Education World Universities Ranking 2023. In addition, the reinstating of the 2 year post-study work visa has drastically improved Indian students’ working rights in the UK. India topped the list of countries to which the United Kingdom issued the most number of visas in 2022. The UK issued 2,836,490 visas last year, with 25% of those going to Indian nationals. This included a record number of student visas from India, which saw a 73% increase in 2021. Additionally, work visas issued to Indian nationals increased by 130%.
Are you interested in applying to the UK for your higher studies? As a non-EU student aspiring to study in the UK, you will need a Tier-4 visa. This article provides you with all the information you need to know about Tier-4 UK student visas.
For a deeper look at the graduate route work visa, read here.
Types of UK Student Visas
There are 3 types of visas for Indian students looking to study abroad in the UK.
Student Route Visa
Indian students who are above 18 years of age and looking to study abroad in the UK must apply for a student route visa (formerly known as the Tier 4 General student visa) if:
- You’ll be studying at a university/college course for over 6 months
- You’ll be taking an English language course for over 11 months.
Indian students applying to study abroad in the UK who are under 18 years of age must apply for a child study visa.
Short Term Visa
This visa is for those looking to pursue short term (under 6 month) study programs.
The Tier-4 Student Visa
As an Indian student applying to study in the UK for an international Masters program of a duration of 12 months, you will need to apply for the Tier-4 student visa. Once you successfully graduate from the program, you can convert this to a Graduate Route or Post Study Work Visa (link to article).
It is important for all the students to understand that the UK Tier-4 visa is a point-based system and in order to be eligible for the visa, applicants need to meet all the requirements and should gain 40 points. However, gaining confirmation of acceptance for your studies (CAS) from a licensed Tier-4 sponsor yields you 30 points while having proof of enough funds to cover your course and living expenses yields you the other 10 points.
How much is the UK Tier-4 Student Visa Application Fee?
To apply for a UK Tier-4 student visa, you need to pay an application fee of £348 (approximately 32,444 INR). You can make the payment online (through master or visa card) or through Demand Draft or Cash. Demand Draft or Cash payments can be done at the Visa Application Center or at select branches of the Standard Chartered Bank.
What are the Documents Required for Applying to a Tier-4 UK Student Visa?
To apply for a Tier-4 student visa, you need to have a list of documents ready. Ensure that you refer to the list of documents before going for the visa interview.
- A duly-filled Visa Application Form
- A Letter of Acceptance – This is the letter provided by your approved education provider in order to confirm your place and course of study without any conditions. Along with the acceptance letter, they also provide you with a visa letter which will be issued no more than six months before the course start date. Acceptance and visa letters older than six months will not be accepted. Having a visa letter doesn’t give you any guarantee of a successful visa but, it is mandatory to meet all the requirements as needed by the Tier-4 student visa and the immigration rules
- Proof of Funds – You need to provide proof that you have the money required to cover your tuition fees and living expenses for 9 months or for the complete duration of the course (if the duration is less than 9 months). The amount you need to show depends on whether you are living in or out of London and whether you are a child or an adult. You need to show that you have held the amount in your account for a period of at least 28 days in case of self-funding. The end of this 28-day period must not be more than a month before your visa application date. If you are showing any scholarships or loans as proof of funds, make sure you keep all the related documents ready. Below is the amount of funds that you need to show as your living expenses
- £11,385 (approximately 10.64 lakhs INR)for nine months if you wish to stay in London
- £9,135 (approximately 8.54 lakhs INR) for nine months if you wish to stay out of London
- Confirmation of Visa Payment
- Test Scores of exams like IELTS, GMAT as required
- Mark Sheets and Provisional Certificates (Original)
- Tuberculosis Test Certificate – You need to go through the tuberculosis test prior to applying for the visa and provide the certificate at the time of application
When and How to Apply for a Tier-4 UK Student Visa?
You are eligible to apply for the visa as early as three months prior to the course start date. You will get your visa in 15 days but this can take a little longer during peak processing months. It is advisable to apply early.
A Step-by-Step Process on how to Apply for a Tier-4 UK Student Visa
- Accept your unconditional offer letter from the university indicating university, course and duration. If the university requires you to deposit tuition fees, go ahead and make the payment.
- Check the offer letter for any errors. If you notice any errors, report the same to the university officials. Once you verify that the information on the acceptance letter is correct, then you will receive the conditional acceptance of your studies (CAS) in 5 working days. Ensure that your CAS has mentioned the tuition deposits that you paid and the scholarships you received. Please check that carefully as you need to show the outstanding funds via proof of finance.
- Arrange all the documents as mentioned under the list of documents
- Apply for Tier-4 UK student visa online. You need to pay the visa application fee of £348 (approximately 32,444 INR) or more if you want to opt for priority visa services.
- When applying for your visa online, you need to book a personal appointment to attend the Visa Application Centre and submit all the documents. You need to give your biometric information as well.
- You will also be asked to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge so as to access the National Health Service (NHS). This will cost you £300 (approximately 28,062 INR) for your entire visa duration and you are required to pay an additional £150 (approximately 14,031 INR) per year.
- Once you are done with all the processes, you will get your passport printed with a Vignette Visa Sticker and this is valid for about 30 days allowing you to travel to the UK. Apart from the vignette visa sticker, you will also receive a confirmation letter from the UK Visas and Immigration office. Once you reach the UK, you need to submit both the vignette visa and the confirmation letter at the UK border.
- You will receive your visa printed on the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which you need to collect within ten days of reaching the UK from the university or designated post-office.
Can students with Tier-4 UK Student Visas Work While Studying?
With a valid Tier-4 UK student visa, you can work for up to 20 hours a week and 40 hours during semester breaks and holidays while studying. For a look at the graduate route work visa, which is a post-study work visa you can apply for upon graduation, read here.
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Don’t forget to check or contact the individual university websites and departments for the latest information on tuition fees, scholarships, deadlines and application procedures, as these are updated all the time.
All the best!