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Let us help you work out which visa is the right one for you and guide you through the application process. Below you'll find answers to some of the most common questions we're asked about visas and immigration.

Allow plenty of time to apply

We strongly advise you to apply for your visa well in advance of your course start date. Many students fail to take up their place at the University because they wait until the last minute to apply for their visa.

Which visa should I apply for?

Students from inside the European Economic Area can enter the UK freely by showing their passport or national identity card. You do not need to apply for additional permission to enter the UK.

If you're not from the European Economic Area and wish to study a course of six months or more, you will need to apply for entry clearance as a Tier 4 (General) student. See the UK Visa and Immigration website for more details.

If you're coming to study a short course of six months or less, or an English language course of 11 months or less, you may wish to consider coming to the UK as a short-term student. Please note that this category is more restrictive and may not be appropriate to your situation. We strongly recommend you contact the University's international advice team by email before applying in this category, for advice as to whether this is the correct visa for you. 

How do I apply for a visa?

Tier 4 (General) visas

If you wish to come to the UK to study a course which is longer than six months (or a pre-sessional course which will lead on to a course which is longer than six months) you will need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa. You will need to meet the requirements of the immigration rules and apply in the country of which you are a national or where you reside permanently. You will need to create an account here to submit your application online, and you'll also need to attend a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to submit your documents and biometric data.

How long will it take?

The time it takes to get your visa will depend on the visa application centre you apply to. You can view visa processing times for your local visa application centre on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

You can read all about Tier 4 (General) visas at

Short-term study visas

You will need to meet the requirements of the immigration rules, but (unlike Tier 4 applications) you can apply for entry clearance as a short-term student from any country outside of the UK. You will need to create an account here in order to submit your application online, and will also need to attend a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to submit your documents and biometric data.

You can read all about short-term study visas at

Immigration fees

The cost of a Tier 4 (General) application from outside the UK (entry clearance) is £348. A standard application for Tier 4 (General) Leave To Remain from within the UK is £475, with premium (face-to-face) appointments costing £1,085. Tier 4 Dependant applications are charged at the same rate as the main applicant.

Short-term student applications for courses of less than six months (from outside the UK only) cost £93.

When can I come to the UK?

If your Tier 4 immigration permission is for a course of six months or more (undergraduate or postgraduate courses), or for a pre-sessional English language course of less than six months, your permission to enter the UK (entry clearance) will start one month before the course.

If your Tier 4 immigration permission is for a course of less than six months, which is not a pre-sessional English language course, your permission to enter the UK (entry clearance) will start seven days before the course.

The start date of the course for Tier 4 purposes will be the same as that stated in the CAS email you receive from Solent University.

Can I bring my family to the UK with me?

Only some types of Tier 4 (General) student can bring family to the UK as dependants, and only some types of family member can be your dependants, for immigration purposes.

You can normally only bring your dependants to the UK if:

  • you are a government-sponsored student and your course is longer than six months, or
  • you are doing a postgraduate course of 12 months or longer.

Under the Tier 4 immigration rules dependants are defined as:

  • husband or wife,
  • civil partner,
  • unmarried or same sex partner (you must have lived together for at least two years), or
  • children aged under 18 (on the date you are going to arrive in the UK).

Note that (with a few exceptions) both parents must be planning to come to the UK in order for your children to accompany you as your dependants.

Dependants will need to submit their application separately from the student application using this link.

How can I extend my student visa?

Information for current students

If you already have a student visa and want to extend it to continue your studies at Solent University, our international advice service can help with this process. They operate a drop-in service available at the Students Hub (RM050), Monday to Thursday, 10am to 12noon

Further information is available for current students on the University portal

I have a UK student visa, do I need a new visa for Southampton?

Since 5 October 2009, your Tier 4 permission to stay in the UK as a student is tied to the college or university that issued the CAS you use to apply for your visa.

If you hold a Tier 4 visa for another college or university and you now wish to study at Solent University you will need to apply for a new visa to study here using a CAS number issued by us.

If you are already in the UK, you must apply for new Tier 4 immigration permission to start a course at Solent University before your current immigration permission expires. Please visit the Student Hub for more information.

Can I travel to other countries?

Whilst studying at Solent University some students may wish to travel to Europe during or directly after their studies. A Schengen visa allows students to visit any (or all!) of the countries in the Schengen area in one trip, lasting up to 30 days, without having to apply for a separate visa for each country.

Please see below for a list of the current Schengen area countries and links to the application process for each country from within the UK:

Austria  Belgium  Czech Republic  Demark 
Estonia  Finland  France  Germany 
Greece  Hungary  Iceland  Italy 
Latvia  Lithuania  Luxembourg  Malta 
Netherlands  Norway  Poland  Portugal 
Slovakia  Slovenia  Spain  Sweden 

Police registration

Students from certain countries/territories are required to register with the police within seven days of arriving in the UK. Please read this guidance from Gov.UK to find out if this applies to you.

Immigration health surcharge

Most students and their dependents applying for Tier 4 (General) immigration permission for a period of more than six months or applying to extend their Tier 4 leave in-country for any length of time become liable to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) at the time of application.

The charge is payable whether you are applying in the UK or overseas. Payment of the charge gives you the right to access the National Health Service (NHS) while you are in the UK. If you do not pay the charge, your immigration application is liable to be refused.

Since 6 April 2016 nationals of Australia and New Zealand are also liable to pay the IHS. Nationals of these countries were previously exempt. 

For more information and to calculate what the charge will be for you, please visit:

Additional information

For more information, please visit the following organisations:

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)

UK Visas and Immigration

If you are unsure about any aspect of applying for a student visa, you can speak to a member of staff in our international enquiries team:

Telephone:+44 23 8201 5646.

Keep in touch

If you would like to stay in touch with us, please complete the form below. We will keep you up-to-date with all things Solent, from information about our industry-focused courses to hints and tips about the application process.

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