Applying for a student visa

You will need to apply for student visa to enter the UK if you are from a country outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland. This visa will allow you to register and study at the University of Birmingham.

5 year limit on UK study at undergraduate and Masters level

The UKBA have introduced a 5 year limit to study carried out on a student visa, at undergraduate and Masters level. Exemptions will apply for students studying undergraduate courses which are longer than 3 years. 

If you have studied at undergraduate or Masters level in the UK, the University will need to consider this to decide if a CAS can be issued. Some students may also need to carefully plan their studies to make sure they have enough time to complete their courses, for further information please see the UKCISA student visa page.

When to apply

The earliest you can submit your application is three months before your course starts, and you should try to submit your application as soon as you can. You can start planning your visa application now - for example, making sure money is in your bank account and getting your documents together. 

Before you start - points requirements

The UK has a points-based immigration system. To apply for a student visa you need 40 points. To get these points, you will need to:

Your visa application will be refused if you do not meet the points requirements.

How to apply

This page has basic information on applying for a student visa. For detailed information on immigration requirements, you should always read the UKBA student policy guidance (PDF - 825KB).  

You can check the visa application process for your country on the UK Visas website.This will tell you where you can make your application, and will give you links to your options for applying. If you have a choice of information, you will need to look at the information for student visas.

If you are completing a paper application, you will need form VAF9 and Appendix 8, which you can download from the UK Visas visa application forms page (see PDFs on the right side of the page).

For help in completing Appendix 8, please see the Tier 4 appendix 8 guide (PDF - 208KB).

To support your application, you will also need the documents listed below.

Documents you need for evidence


Documents list

The UKBA are very strict about the documents they will accept as evidence. If your documents do not meet the UKBA requirements exactly, your application will be refused. It is very important that you check your documents carefully. 

We have listed the main types of document that you will need. Please check that you have the following original documents:

  • Proof that you have the amount of money required by UKBA for immigration (see money requirements)
  • ATAS, if you need it (find out if you need ATAS)
  • CAS number from the University of Birmingham (get a CAS number)
  • Academic qualifications that are listed in the CAS
  • Translations of any documents that are not in English (see translation requirements)
  • 2 passport-sized photographs, which must meet the UKBA photo guidance
  • Your current passport
  • Any other passports or visas that you have used to come to the UK in the past

All the documents must be originals.

Low-risk countries and documents to submit

If you are from a low-risk country, and are applying for your visa from that country, you should still collect all the evidence listed above. However, you won't need to submit academic qualifications or financial evidence with your application. Instead, the UKBA can ask for it when it is processing your visa application.

If you are asked for this evidence while your application is being processed, you will be given a deadline by which to provide it.  If you fail to provide the documents when they are asked for, your visa application will be refused.

If you have an appointment with the UKBA you must take your documents with you.

Which countries are low-risk?

The low risk countries are Argentina, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States of America. 

You will also be considered low risk if you hold a Hong Kong SAR passport or a British National (Overseas) passport and are applying for your visa in Hong Kong. Or you hold a Taiwan (ROC) passport with a residence card number, and are applying for the visa in Taiwan.  As low risk countries may change please check the UKBA student policy guidance (PDF - 825KB) before applying, to ensure you are still considered as low risk. 

Further information

You can find more detailed information on the UKCISA guide for student visas.

You can also contact the University's International Students Advisory Service for further immigration help:

  • Contact ISAS - use the log in on the right hand side of the page to log in as a student or guest, then send your questions.

Different names for the student visa

A student visa can also be called "entry clearance"or "Tier 4 student visa".