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.
Do I need a visa to study in the UK?
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.
There are many visa categories which permit studying: Tier 4 dependant, Tier 2, Tier 5, 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 email@example.com and send a copy of your visa, your student ID number and your course details.
If you are an international student from any other country, you should visit the Home Office website to see which type of visa you may need to study your course.
There are two main visa types that permit study: short-term study visas and Tier 4 (General) visas.
Short-term study visas
If you are coming to study a short course of six months or less, or an English language course of 11 months or less, you will be eligible to apply for a short-term student visa. Please note that pre-sessional course students are eligible to apply for a Tier 4 visa to be able to extend their visa in the UK following successful completion of their pre-sessional course.
To apply for a short-term study visa, 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.
Some nationalities can be stamped as short-term students on the British border. In this case, you will need to show the short-term letter provided by Solent University's admissions and enrolment team to the border official and double-check that your stamp says 'STS', 'STV' or 'Student Leave 6 months'. You can check if you are eligible to be stamped on the border here.
From June 2019, nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America are eligible to use e-gates when travelling to the UK as a visitor (standard) within the immigration rules or with entry clearance. E-gates must not be used by these nationals if they wish to study in the UK as a short-term student for less than six months, unless they have obtained prior entry clearance (vignette sticker in passport). You are encouraged to print the guidance document issued by the Home Office to show to airport staff on arrival at Border Control gates. Once you show this document, you will be directed to a Border Control officer who will stamp the short-term study visa into your passport.
Please note: you cannot extend this visa category from within the UK. You will also need to leave the UK within 30 days from your course end date, or before your visa expires - whichever is sooner. Further information on requirements and the application process is available on the UKCISA website.
Tier 4 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 will also need to attend a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to submit your documents and biometric data.
When to apply for a Tier 4 visa
Getting your visa approved can take a long time. You can submit your online application for a Tier 4 visa within three 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.
Documents required to make a Tier 4 visa application
- Valid passport/travel document (with a page that is blank on both sides for the insertion of a visa vignette)
- CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number.
- Academic qualifications listed on CAS statement and translations, if these are not in English.
- Evidence that you meet the English language requirement, or are exempt from the requirement.
- Evidence that you can meet the strict financial requirements. Many Tier 4 refusals are caused by incorrect financial documents. It is very important that to check that yours meet the requirements and that you have held the correct level of funds for the necessary period of time. Please see UKCISA guidance on maintenance requirements and Tier 4 policy guidance for further details.
- Consent from current or previous financial sponsor (only if you receive/have received funding from a government, an international scholarship agency, or an international company in the last 12 months)
- Receipts for any tuition fees and/or accommodation costs you have already paid to your institution, if this information is not included on your CAS.
- If you are under 18, parental consent (or legal guardian consent) to travel to and study in the UK.
- A TB (tuberculosis) certificate if you are from a country where a test is required.
- ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) certificate if applicable to your course, it will be confirmed in your offer letter. View a list of all courses that require an ATAS certificate on our Portal.
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 30-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 30 days or apply for a new vignette. The letter from 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. To collect your BRP card during your enrolment, ensure that you select Solent University as alternative collection point (ACL) during the visa application process. The Solent University ACL number is 2HE887.
Further information on requirements and tier 4 application process is available on UKCISA website.
Credibility interviews are now part of the Tier 4 visa application process. They have been introduced by the (UKVI) UK Visas and Immigration 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
The cost of a Tier 4 (General) application from outside the UK (entry clearance) is £348.
In the UK, a standard application for Tier 4 (General) Leave To Remain costs £475, with premium (face-to-face) appointments costing £1,275.
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 £97.
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.
The immigration health surcharge for a Tier 4 application is £300 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 £150 for this period. If it includes part of a year that is more than six months, you will have to pay £300 for this period. For example, if your Tier 4 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 £450.
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
You should arrive before your course starts (this date will be on your offer letter) and within the validity of your visa (30-day vignette) to allow the time to enrol, settle and start your course.
In some circumstances you may be allowed to enrol once your course has started. You should always contact the admissions and enrolment team: email@example.com to communicate your estimated date of arrival and reason for the delay. The team will assess on a case by case basis and liaise with you accordingly.
Preparation and arrival in the UK
You can find useful information on how to prepare for the arrival in the UK, the UK Border Control and airport operations on the UKCISA website.
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
If you have to register with the police, you will be able to do so on our campus during induction week in September. If you are enrolling at a different time of the year, you can request an appointment with the Nationalities Office on either 023 8047 8663 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you already have a certificate from previous study you will be required to update it at any police station with your new visa and any details that have changed since your registration.
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 nine 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.
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. They operate a drop-in service available at the Students Hub (RM050), Tuesday to Thursday, 10am to 12noon. Further information is also available for current students on the University portal.
Prospective students who are in the UK
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, before you are allowed to enrol on your new course.
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. You will be able to extend your 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 Tier 4 visa application. They operate a drop-in service at the Student Hub (RM050), Tuesday to Thursday, 10am to 12 noon, or you can call them on +44 23 8201 3821 to book a one to one appointment, at suitable time.
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 in 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 to replace UK visa.
Please follow the process of visa replacement applicable to you as per guidance on the UKCISA website.
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:
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Telephone:+44 23 8201 3821