Visas for study

The new Student Visa

If you are an international student coming to study in the UK on or after 1 January 2021, including if you’re from the EU, EEA and Switzerland, you will need a Student visa before you arrive. 

This includes if you began your course remotely online in autumn 2020.

If you currently have a Tier 4 (General) visa, this will continue until the expiry date. At that point, if needed, you can apply for another student visa through this new Student visa route. It is very similar to the Tier 4 route so any reference to Tier 4 on our other webpages also relates to the new Student visa.

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss student resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, you should not apply for a Student visa. You are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. 

If you are resident here by 31 December 2020 you have until 30 June 2021 to apply although we suggest you apply as soon as you can. It is easy and free: please read see our EU Settlement Scheme information

Applying from within the UK

If you already hold Tier 4 or Student leave, you will need to meet the Academic Progression requirements to apply in the UK. We can help you assess if you are eligible to apply here in the UK or if you will need to leave the UK to make your application from your country of residence. 

Our team, International Student Advice (ISA), offers free student immigration advice and will help with your in-UK application. Please contact us for advice in good time.

If you are switching to the Student route from a different immigration category, you should be eligible to apply in the UK provided you are not here on immigration bail and you currently have any type of immigration permission except:

  • visitor
  • short-term student
  • parent of a child student
  • seasonal worker
  • domestic worker in a private household
  • permission outside the Immigration Rules​

You can only apply for a Student Visa in the UK if your new course starts no more than 28 days after the end of your current leave. 

If the gap between the end of your current leave and the start of your new course is longer than 28 days then you must leave the UK and apply from your home country.

How do I apply?

The visa application itself can be broken down into two stages:

  • Preparing and gathering documentation, completing the Student visa application form and paying relevant fees (all online)Going to a Visa Application Centre (VAC), submitting your biometrics and possibly undertaking a Credibility Interview

Please contact us as soon as you know you want to apply. Allow three months before your current visa expires to allow plenty of time to prepare.

You will need a new CAS and we will explain how to get this. You will need to complete the online application form to apply from within the UK and will also need certain documents.

What are the costs?

The current standard application fee is £494.20 per applicant.

Applications for visas that are more than six months long will also include an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The cost is £470 per year of leave granted.

There may also, be an extra fee when you book your Biometric appointment at a UK Visa & Citizen Application Services (UKVCAS) Centre. This may range from £50 per applicant to £500 per applicant. Please see the biometrics section below.

All these fees are payable by bank card within the online application process.

What documents do I need?

The following documents may be needed (Printouts and scans are acceptable):

  • Passport. This must be uploaded to your application from the original (you should take this to your VAC appointment as well).
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Your current BRP.
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number. If you are a student continuing on the same degree and need to extend your visa, email internationalstudentadvice@plymouth.ac.uk to request a new CAS.
  • If you are an existing student and have applied to study on a new degree programme, you do not need to request the CAS as it will be sent to you with your unconditional offer by our Admissions team.
  • You will need the unique CAS number to include in your online application form.
  • Evidence of finances
  • Some students may not need to show financial evidence; please contact us for advice. Most students must prove they have enough money to support their UK studies. This varies from student to student but essentially you will need a year of tuition fees (these will be on your CAS) plus living costs (£9,207).
  • You will need additional documents if you are using your parents (or official legal guardian's bank statements).
  • You will need to show more funds if you are applying with dependants.
  • Proof of progress/academic qualifications if stated on your CAS. You will need to include the transcripts and certificates of any qualifications (or English Language assessments) that are listed on your CAS.
  • Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate (if applicable). Certain postgraduate courses within science, engineering, or technology disciplines may need to apply for an ATAS Certificate. Allow at least 20 working days for it to be processed.  Your offer letter/CAS from the University will state if you need to do this. If it is not listed on your offer you should not need one.
  • Credit or debit card to pay the visa application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) payment as part of the online application process

Documents not in English should be translated.

This list is not exhaustive and you may be asked for other documents during the visa submission process.

When can I apply?

You must apply before your current immigration permission ends.

As soon as you have your documents ready, have completed the online application form, and your CAS is ready, you can make an appointment with us to submit your Student visa.

If you cannot make an application before your current immigration permission ends you should leave the UK before this date and apply for entry clearance to return to the UK on a student visa. If you remain in the UK after the date on which your current immigration permission ends without submitting an application for further leave to remain, then you become an over stayer, which is a criminal offence. 

The University will not permit you to continue your studies if you become an over stayer and will withdraw your CAS. If you think that you are going to be unable to submit a visa application before your current leave expires you should speak to us urgently.

How do I provide biometrics?

You will be issued with a new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) when your application is granted. The BRP card shows information about you and your visa. It also contains an electronic data chip that holds your information and fingerprints. In order to have a BRP issued, you will have to provide fingerprints and have a photo taken, otherwise known as ‘enrolling your biometrics’. 

Once you have completed the online visa application form and paid both the application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge, you will immediately be asked to make an appointment to enrol your biometrics. This is done automatically via the website of UKVI’s contractor Sopra Steria (operating as UKVCAS).

Appointment booking may be free of charge. However, there could be a fee which is in addition to the application fee. The nearest UKVCAS centre is in Exeter, about a 45-minute train drive away from Plymouth.

During Covid-travel restrictions, UKVCAS may offer you an online alternative instead. You cannot request this, they will inform you if you are eligible.

What is a credibility interview?

Credibility interviews are part of the Student visa application process. They were introduced by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) to try and make sure that only genuine students are studying in the UK.

During the interview you will be asked questions about your background, immigration history, the studies you are planning to undertake in the UK, why you chose the University of Plymouth and your course, how you intend to fund your studies in the UK and also how this fits into your career aspirations.

Applying from outside of the UK

Where can I apply and how?

You should apply from your home country. If you do not live in your home country you should apply from the country in which you normally live.

You must apply for the visa online though this link: Student Visa application form - applying from outside the UK

The application process should take between 45-60 minutes to complete and you can save the form and return to it at any time.

What are the costs?

The current application fee is £348, paid as the equivalent in your local currency.

Priority services may be available so check with the Visa Application Centre in the country in which you plan to apply.

Applications for visas that are more than six months long will also include an Immigration Health Surcharge. The cost of this is based on the length of the visa that you are applying for. This charge is in addition to the visa application fee and separate from the maintenance requirements of the visa application.

What documents do I need?

You should be prepared to provide the following:

  • Passport (current and any previous) or other valid travel documentation. Printouts and scans are all fine except for your passport, which has to be uploaded to your application from the original (you should take this to your VAC appointment as well).
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number
  • This will be sent to you or your Agent by email. You will need the unique CAS number on the CAS to include in your online application form.
  • Evidence of finances
  • You must prove you have enough money to support your UK studies. This varies from student to student but essentially you will need:
  • Tuition Fees (these will be on your CAS) + living costs (£9,207)
  • You will need additional documents if you are using your parents (or official legal guardian's bank statements).
  • Proof of progress/academic qualifications as stated on your CAS. You will need to include the transcripts and certificates of any qualifications (or English Language assessments) that are listed on your CAS.
  • Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate (if applicable) Certain postgraduate courses within science, engineering or technology disciplines may need to apply for an ATAS Certificate. You will need this Certificate for your visa to be granted and to enable you to enrol. Your offer letter/CAS from the University will state if you need to do this. If it is not listed on your offer you should not need one.
  • TB test (if applicable). Applicants from some countries, who are coming to the UK for more than 6 months, will need a TB test before applying for their visa. You can find a full list of guidance and UKVI approved clinics on the Gov.UK website
  • Credit or debit card to pay the visa application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) payment as part of the online application process.

Some Student visa applicants do not need to provide evidence of their finances when they are applying for entry clearance in their country of nationality or ordinary residence, or for leave to remain in the UK. The Home Office calls this the 'differential evidence requirement'. Find out if your nationality is included by looking at the Differential Evidence Requirement section in Appendix ST of the Immigration Rules.

Documents not in English should be translated.

This list is not exhaustive and you may be asked for other documents during the visa submission process.

When to apply

To apply for a Student Visa you will need a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number. The CAS is a virtual document that confirms that an institution is willing to act as your educational sponsor.

It provides UK Visas and Immigration (part of the Home Office) with:

  • your personal details
  • details of your course of study
  • details of any fees you have paid to the University.

You will receive a CAS as part of the admissions process if you are applying to study a new course. When you receive the CAS and have all your documents ready, you can apply up to six months before the course start date.

What is a credibility interview?

Credibility interviews are part of the Student visa application process. They were introduced by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) to try and make sure that only genuine students are studying in the UK.

During the interview, you will be asked questions about your background, immigration history, the studies you are planning to undertake in the UK, why you chose the University of Plymouth and your course, how you intend to fund your studies in the UK and also how this fits into your career aspirations.

How long will the visa process take?

A standard application outside the UK usually takes around three weeks to process (from the date you submit your biometrics and not the date you submit the application). 

We are currently seeing some delays due to the COVID-19 situation around the globe and so you will need to be more patient than usual. You can check the usual visa processing time for your country on the Gov.UK website

Some countries also offer a Priority Visa Application Service that takes around 3-5 days. To see whether this service will be available to you, please check the information on the individual Visa Application Centres above. 

Some VACs are not offering priority services at this time due to the situation resulting from COVID-19.

What do I do when I receive my visa?

You will receive your visa in the form of a vignette (or sticker) in your passport. If your length of leave is longer than 6 months, this vignette will just cover you to travel to the UK and then you will be expected to collect your Biometric Resident Permit (BRP - visa card) on arrival in the UK. Please look at our Information about the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

It is important to check that your visa has been issued for the correct length of time and has no other mistakes. Make sure you have the right entry clearance (visa) before leaving home to travel to the UK. Any mistakes need to be corrected before you travel to the UK.