Applying for a Student Route visa to study

Student ambassador wearing a 'Can I Help?' jumper walking with three female international studentsAll International students need a visa (entry clearance) to study in the UK. Even students classed as ‘non-visa nationals’ will need to apply for the correct permission to study in the UK. Students requiring a Student Route visa will need to apply before coming to the UK: it is not possible to switch to this visa category on arrival. 

Is a Student Route visa right for me?

The University of Birmingham has a Student Sponsor Licence which permits us to enrol international students on a range of courses. The Student Route visa is appropriate for students that can prove their ability in English language, have enough funds to support themselves and are able to meet the other eligibility entry requirements, under the points-based system.

If you enter the UK on a Student Route visa you may be permitted to work in the UK, subject to restrictions, and certain students may be able to bring family members (dependants). In addition, it is possible, subject to restrictions, to extend a Student Route visa if you need more time to study.

The UK has a points-based immigration system. Student Route visa applications require 70 points:

Points Type Relevant Requirements Number of Points 
  • CAS for studies requirement
  • Course requirement
  • Qualification requirement
  • Level of study requirement
  • Place of study requirement
  • Financial requirement
English Language 
  • English Language requirement

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

When to apply

Once you have firmly accepted your unconditional offer and received your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) you can start to prepare your Student Route visa application.

The earliest you can submit your application is 3 months before your course starts, but you can start planning early: ensuring you have the correct documents and enough funding ready in your bank account. 

How to apply

You should only apply online once you have all the required documents and have checked these meet requirements.

Complete the online Student application form through the GOV.UK website.

  • You will require to pay the visa application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which is calculated automatically for you towards the end for you online visa application
  • Book appointment at your nearest Visa Application Centre 

You should then book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) (which may be in a different country). Note that some VAC's may charge an additional fee for their services.

When you attend your appointment you need to take your printed application along with all the required supporting documents for your visa. You may need to take a tuberculosis (TB) test if it applies to your place of residence. 

At the visa application centre you will have your biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) taken. In addition you may be interviewed via a video link by UKVI staff in the UK (genuineness and credibility). The purpose is to discuss why you want a visa and you should be prepared to explain why you decided to study in the UK, why you decided to study at the University of Birmingham, and why you chose this particular course.

Due to changes to 'entry clearance' (visas made outside of the UK) if you are applying to come to the UK for 6 months or more you will be given an entry clearance visa normally for 30 days (this has been increased to 90 days recently due to UKVI Covid-19 guidance) and you will be required to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card when you have been permitted to book your appointment with the IST to collect this. (advised by UKVI as within 10 days of arrival into the UK but the day of collection from the University may be longer).

Before making your visa application you must read the instructions on how to have your BRP card sent to the University of Birmingham.

Immigration Health Surcharge

From 6 April 2015 applications for visas that are more than six months long will also include a 'immigration health surcharge'.

This charge must be paid even if you have your own private medical insurance, and your visa application will not be granted unless you have paid the surcharge.

British Overseas Territory Citizens who live in the Falkland Islands are exempt (£0) from any charge, however these people must still receive a IHS reference number.

How much is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

From 1 October 2020, the surcharge will be calculated at £470 per year for each year of leave that you are applying for. Please note that the charge is calculated on the basis of the total length of leave granted, so any additional time before or after your course will be taken into account.

You can check the amount you need to pay before you apply.


Documents you need for your visa application

Documents list

If your visa documents are not in English then an official certified translation must be provided. The following documents must be included with your application:

  • Your current passport as well as any previous passports you have used to travel to the UK
  • a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) 
  • Proof that you have the amount of money required by UKVI for immigration (see money requirements)
  • ATAS certificate, if applicable to your studies and nationality (Find out if you need ATAS)
  • TB certificate (if applicable)
  • Academic qualification evidence as listed in your CAS
  • Translations of any documents that are not in English (see translation requirements)
  • Proof of parental or legal guardian consent if you are under the age of 18.

Low-risk countries and documents to submit

Nationals of some countries do not need to submit evidence of their qualifications or finances when applying as they are deemed ‘low risk’. However you should still collect all the evidence and hold this, as you may be requested to show it at a later stage by UKVI, and your application will be refused if you are unable to provide it within the required timeframe given by UKVI.

See the Student visa website for a full list of low risk countries

How long am I permitted to stay?

Under Student Route immigration rules there are limits on the length of time students can spend in the UK. Your visa application cannot lead to you spending more than 5 years at Undergraduate level (degree level) as there is a UKVI time limit cap. Some exemptions may apply to this time limit cap.

The University will consider if you have enough time to study before deciding if a CAS can be issued. Some students will also need to plan their studies to make sure they have enough time to complete their studies.

If your visa is successful you can expect to be granted the length of your course (according to the CAS) plus:

  • 4 months, if your course is 12 months duration or more
  •  2 months, if your course is 6-12 months duration
  •  1 month, if your course is a pre-sessional course of less than 6 months duration
  • 7 days , for other courses of less than 6 months duration

You must not remain in the UK after this date unless you have already submitted an application for further leave to remain in the UK i.e. extend your visa. Overstaying is a criminal offence and will have serious consequences for any future immigration applications that you make, including applications for countries other than the UK. Please also be aware that your visa may be curtailed (shortened) if you defer, postpone, take a break from studies or complete your course early.

What happens after I have submitted my application?

Information on visa processing times in your country is available on the UK Visas and Immigration website.  

If successful, your visa will be issued as a vignette (sticker) in your passport.

A new system for issuing entry clearance to people coming to the UK from abroad for more than six months (and their family members) is going to operate from March 2015 onwards. Students applying for an entry clearance visa from outside of the UK will be granted a 30 day short-term entry clearance vignette (sticker) in their passport. They will also be given a written decision which will advise them where to collect their biometric immigration document known as a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Students coming to study for less than 6 months should not require a BRP card.

If you believe the visa you have been issued contains any incorrect information you should ask for it to be changed immediately – before you travel – ask the entry clearance post (VAC) for advice before entering the UK. 

What happens if my visa is refused?

Please take care when completing your application to avoid your visa being refused as you may not have time to make another application. If you are in doubt about whether any of the documents meet the requirements, do not risk the possibility of a refusal, and check with the IST before submitting your visa application.

If your visa is refused you should send a scanned copy of your refusal notice to the (IST) International Student Team immediately. 

The University of Birmingham cannot issue you with a second CAS until we are certain that the reason for the refusal has been corrected, and that you are able to make a successful application that will allow you to arrive at the University by the latest permitted start date for your studies. If you believe a mistake was made assessing your visa application, the IST will advise you if an Administrative Review is appropriate. This must be done within 28 days from the date you received the notice, and you will not be able to submit fresh evidence as part of this process.

Student Route visa Booklet

This guide explains your responsibilities as a student sponsored by the University of Birmingham under the Student Route visa and provides information on protecting your immigration status in the UK.  If you have been assigned a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and use it to apply for a visa and you are granted a visa, it will be a Student Route visa.

Download the Manual Section Student Route Visa booklet

Further information

We hope this page has provided you with all the information you need to understand how to make a successful application for a Student Route visa. You may also find the following helpful:

If you are not able to find the answers to your queries above then you can also contact the International Student Team by contacting the (IST) International Student Team. You can log in as a guest on the right hand side of the page.

Please note that due to the volume of international students applying for visas to come to Birmingham, we aim to respond to your query within 10 working days. To enable our advisors to provide you with a prompt and detailed response, we would appreciate it if you make your question as clear as possible, providing as much relevant detail as you can about your circumstances e.g. course details, nationality and visa applications/current permissions.