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.
This page was updated with recent changes to the UK student immigration route. Tier 4 visa was replaced by Student Visa route for anyone applying from 5 October 2020. Study on courses shorter than 6 months become possible on a Standard Visitor visa, as a result of changes to a Short Term Student Visa made on 1 December 2020.
Do I need a visa to study in the UK?
All International students should visit the Home Office website to decide which visa may be needed to study in the UK.
Students from inside the European Economic Area and Switzerland can enter the UK freely by showing their passport or national identity card until 31 December 2020. From 1 January 2021 those nationals will require a visa, unless they qualify for EU Settled or Pre-settled status. More information on that can be found on the student portal.
There are many visa categories which permit studying: dependant, worker and ILR are among these categories. If you already have permission to remain in the UK and you are unsure if it permits studying, you can check the Home Office website or with us. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and send a copy of your visa, your student ID number and your course details.
There are two main visa types applicable to Solent University students that permit study:
- Student Route for course longer than 6 months
- Standard Visitor visa for courses shorter than 6 months
Please note that pre-sessional course students are eligible to apply for a Student Visa to be able to extend their visa in the UK following successful completion of their pre-sessional course.
Standard visitor visas
Applying for a Standard visitor visa for study purposes
Depending on your nationality you may not have to apply for this Standard visitor visa in advance of entering the UK. The UK separates countries into two categories for visitor visas: non-visa nationals and visa nationals.
Visa nationals - if you are a visa national, as listed in Appendix Visitor: Visa National List of the immigration rules you must apply for entry clearance (eg, your visa) as a Standard Visitor before you travel to the UK.
To apply for entry clearance you need to complete the online form. You will be asked to confirm your visa type and you should select ‘Standard Visitor Visa'. The application fee is £95 and as part of the application process you will also need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken (known as biometrics) at a visa application centre.
Non-visa national (not using an eGate) - if you are a non-visa national it is not compulsory to apply for entry clearance (eg, visa) before you travel, if you wish to come as a Standard Visitor. Instead, you can apply for a Standard Visitor Visa on arrival at the port of entry (eg, airport). Please note, at the port of entry you still need to produce all the relevant support documents listed in the evidence section below.
Non-visa national using an eGate – only nationals of the following: an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea , Switzerland and the United States of America can use an eGate at their point of entry to the UK. eGates allow individuals to enter the UK without seeing a Border Force officer on arrival. Individuals who use an eGate to enter the UK will automatically be granted six months' permission to enter the UK as a Standard Visitor.
Your application should include:
- evidence of your unconditional offer of study in the UK – eg, a letter from Solent University
- evidence you have enough money for tuition, accommodation and living expenses to support yourself while you are in the UK – there are no specific requirements which state the amount of money you must show when you apply. Using the Student Visa route maintenance as a guide only, it would be reasonable to show that you have the equivalent of £1,023 per month for living costs, for the duration of your studies. If you can evidence your accommodation costs have already been met, this will reduce the amount needed
- other supporting documents listed on the Home Office website (eg, under 18 requirements)
- Access to National Health Service: You should obtain appropriate private health care cover before your arrival, as your access to National Health Service will be restricted.
- You cannot extend your stay in the UK, or switch into any other immigration category, you will need to leave the UK before your visa expires.
- You cannot do any kind of work, work placement or work experience during your studies
- You have no recourse to public funds.
- Standard Visitors are not permitted to bring family members as dependants – if your family wish to join you in the UK, they must also apply as a Standard Visitor.
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 Student 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 to submit your application online. You may need to attend a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to submit your documents and biometric data (EEA and Swiss nationals with a biometric passport are exempt).
When to apply for a Student Visa
Getting your visa approved can take a long time. You can submit your online application for a visa within six months of your course start date. You should prepare all your documents in advance and submit your application as soon as possible. There are different submission methods depending on how quickly you would like to receive your visa. You can see the average time taken by the UKVI to assess visa applications in your country here.
Due to the operational impact of Covid-19, most of the UK’s visa application centres are currently closed and no priority service is available. The Home Office takes longer to approve any applications submitted. The priority service and super priority service are suspended for applications made outside the UK.
Documents required to make a Student Visa application
Application process and BRP card collection
If you apply for a visa for a course that is longer than six months, you will be issued a 90-day entry vignette and a letter confirming your visa conditions. Check these are correct before travelling to the UK as any error on your letter will be duplicated on your Biometric Residence Permit (visa). If you notice any errors, please follow the instructions on your letter or contact us for information on how to start the correction process. You must travel within these 90 days or apply for a new vignette. The letter from the Home Office is very important as it proves you were granted a visa. You should keep it in your passport to show at Border Control.
When you arrive you will need to collect your BRP card from either a designated Post Office or from Solent University, The address is stated on your letter, which you must bring with you.
Further information on requirements and Student Visa application process is available on UKCISA website.
Credibility interviews are now part of the visa application process. They have been introduced by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to try to make sure that only genuine students are studying in the UK. Not everyone is invited to attend an interview but if you are chosen you must attend.
The purpose of the interview is to check that you are a genuine student. During the interview you will be asked questions about your background, immigration history, about the studies you are planning to undertake in the UK, why you chose Solent University and your course, how you intend to fund your studies in the UK and also how this fits into your career aspirations. There may be some more specific questions about Southampton, and your choice of accommodation to ensure you have researched your place of study. If you are invited to attend a credibility interview, you can talk to us about preparation by calling the international student adviser on +44 23 8201 3821 or email: email@example.com
The cost of a Student Visa application from outside the UK (entry clearance) is £348.
In the UK, a standard application for a Student Visa Leave To Remain costs £475, with premium (face-to-face) appointments costing £1,275.
Dependant visitor visa applications are charged at the same rate as the main applicant.
General visitor visa applications for courses of less than six months (from outside the UK only) cost £95.
Immigration health surcharge
Most students and their dependants applying for Student Visa 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.
The immigration health surcharge for a Student Visa application is £450 per year for each year of leave you are applying for, including the extra periods of time before and after your course. If this includes part of a year that is six months or less you will be charged an additional £225 for this period. If it includes part of a year that is more than six months, you will have to pay £450 for this period. For example, if your Student Visa application is to allow you to do a further 12 months of study in the UK, you should be granted leave for an extra four months after your course end date and the immigration surcharge will therefore be £675.
You can use the Immigration Health Surcharge tool on the Home Office website to check how much you will have to pay.
When to arrive in the UK
It is important you arrive in the UK before any physical classroom based teaching delivered on your hybrid course begins to allow you time to settle in, meet your course team and complete all relevant parts of your course induction.
If you are starting your course online you will still need to follow your virtual Welcome timetable and make the most of all online talks and events and engage with the University as well as with the Students' Union. Active engagement with the complete programme of induction and orientation is a key component of setting you up to succeed during your Solent studies.
Your travel window is within is the 90 days in your vignette sticker, if you are traveling outside of those dates you will need to apply for a new vignette.
In some circumstances you may be allowed to enrol once your course has started. You should always contact the admissions and enrolment team: firstname.lastname@example.org to communicate your estimated date of arrival and the reason for the delay. The team will assess each request on a case by case basis and liaise with you accordingly.
Once you receive your offer of study with us, our admissions team will direct you to further pages for advice on the admission process.
Preparation and arrival in the UK
You can find useful information on how to prepare for arrival in the UK, the UK Border Control and airport operations on the UKCISA website. Once you receive your offer of study with us, our admissions team will direct you to further pages for advice on admission process.
Some nationalities need to register with the police within seven days of arrival in the UK. If you have to register with the police, this will be endorsed on your visa sticker and Home Office letter. Always check for this requirement as errors may occur. If you spot an error, please correct it before travelling whenever possible.
See a list of countries who need to register with the police
We have explained the process of police registration here. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic there are limited appointments available for new registrations online, and updates to certificates in Hampshire. If you are residing in different locations, please check with your local Nationalities Office. You can contact Hampshire's Nationalities Office on either 023 8047 8663 or email email@example.com.
Mistakes on my visa
When you receive your visa you should check that your personal details match the information on your passport. Additionally you should verify that the correct type of visa been granted for the correct length and with the expected hours of work.
If you notice an error on your BRP relating to your biographical information you will need to complete the online form. This service is free of charge.
If your leave was granted in the UK and you believe that the leave you have been granted is incorrect, your decision letter will explain whether and how you can request an administrative review of the decision - you have limited time to do this!
If your leave was granted out of country (outside the UK) and you believe that any of the information is incorrect, as outlined on your decision letter, you should contact the Visa Application Centre (VAC) you applied through as soon as possible and prior to travelling. Details of how to do this can be found on the FAQ pages on the individual web portals for each VAC, which can be found here.
If your leave was granted out of country but you do not realise there is a problem with your grant of leave or your biographical information until you have collected your BRP card in the UK, please report it here. You have 10 days to report it free of charge.
In all circumstances please check and report errors at the earliest opportunity to avoid delay or problems with travel or accessing study/work at a later date. If you need support please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I bring my family to the UK with me?
You can normally only bring your dependants to the UK if you are on a Student Visa and:
- you are a government-sponsored student and your course is longer than six months, or
- you are doing a postgraduate course of nine months or longer.
Under the dependent partner 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.
For more information please visit the UKCISA website.
If you do not meet the criteria above, your family may visit you on a Standard Visitor Visa.
Extending your Student Visa
Current Solent University students
If you already have a Student Visa and wish to extend it to continue your studies at Solent University, our international advice service can help with this process.
Further information is also available for current students on the student portal.
Prospective students who are in the UK
Your Student Visa or 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 Student Visa or 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, before you are allowed to enrol on your new course.
If you are already in the UK, you must apply for new Student Visa to start a course at Solent University before your current immigration permission expires. You will be able to extend your Student Visa or Tier 4 visa from within the UK only if you meet the academic progression rule, and the gap between the end of your current visa and the start of your course is no longer than 28 days. Please read the guidance on UKCISA website.
Our international student adviser can help with your visa application. Contact them on email@example.com
Lost or stolen visas or passports
If your documents are lost or stolen abroad, you will need to replace them before you can travel.
Passports can be replaced at your country’s embassy.
You will need to replace the UK visa if you would like to return to this country.
The process of replacing visa depends on the type of visa you have – a vignette (sticker in your passport) or a BRP card. We advise you to check how long it will take to have your visa replaced before you submit your passport to British authorities. Some students prefer to return to their home country and have their UK visa replaced there.
Please follow the process of visa replacement applicable to you as per guidance on our student portal.
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, please contact our international student adviser:
Back to top
Telephone:+44 23 8201 3821