I will show you the simple steps to apply for a student visa to study in the United Kingdom as a General Student, that is, post-16 education like University. Anyone who is 4 – 17 years is classified as a Child Student and the requirements are slightly different. We will concern ourselves here with the General Student under the Tier 4 points-based system. The information here also reflects the changes to the system that came into effect in July 2011.
General requirements
Students must meet the full requirements of the Immigration Rules and have 40 points in total as shown in the table below:

  • Points required: 40
  • Having a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)             30 points

from a Tier 4 sponsor

  • Having enough money to cover course fees and monthly                    10  points

living costs (also known as maintenance or funds)
Student’s application under Tier 4 can be refused under the general grounds for refusal listed in the Immigration Rules. A bad immigration history can also earn you a refusal.
Documents to submit
It is very important that you read your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) very carefully as all the documents you need to present will clearly stated in it. In most cases, the documents should include the following:

  • Original copy of either your certificate you used to apply for the admission or an original copy of your result transcript.
  • Completed and signed VAF9 PBS Migrant personal details form
  • Completed and signed General Student Self-Assessment form
  • Four passport photographs that are 45mm high and 35mm wide
  • Evidence of visa fees payment, which could be bank teller or receipt
  • CAS number  as sent to you by your Tier 4 sponsor (the school that offered you admission). The CAS number expires after six months it was issued or if your visa application is denied. In any case, you have to contact your sponsor to issue you a new CAS. Due to a policy change, your CAS number now represnts your visa letter.
  • Unconditional offer letter from your institution
  • Evidence of your ability to pay course fees as well as living costs. This could be bank statements held by you, your guardian or someone who has a legal relationship with you, scholarship letter from an organization, loan letter, scholarship offer as shown on your CAS, or any other easily verifiable evidence of liquid cash available to you (documents must original or be on the letter-headed paper of your sponsor).
  • Other accounts or financial instruments such as shares, bonds, overdrafts, credit cards and pension funds are not acceptable, regardless of notice period.
  • In case your documents are not in English Language, you must provide an official  translation from a recognized translation company.

Other requirements which are specific to certain courses or countries include:

  • You may have to pass an English Language test if you are not from a majority English speaking country or have not studied in an institution where English was the main language of instruction. Your Tier 4 sponsor should tell you if you need to take a test. If you are in doubt, write your department for clarification.
  • Some science students are required to provide the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Clearance. Please contact you department for clarification. If you need it, you will have to apply online and it could take up to 20 days for it to be issued to you. To read more about it and apply for your clearance, visit http://www.fco.gov.uk/atas.
  • If your course is longer than 6 months, nationals of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya (including residents of Eritrea and Somalia), Laos, Pakistan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Thailand must be screened for TB before applying for a visa to come to the UK. You will need to present a certificate of screening from a recognized clinic or hospital.

Evidence of funds for cost of living
A Tier 4 General student must show that he/she has:

  • £800 per month for living costs if the student is studying in inner London for the majority of his/her study (more than 50% of their study time);
  • £600 per month for living costs if the student is studying in outer London or anywhere else in the United Kingdom, for the majority of his/her study (more than 50% of their study time).

Your Tier 4 sponsor should also give more clarification if they have a special rate higher than these.
Next Step
Now that you have all your documents ready, proceed to the UKVISA website and either apply online or download the application forms if online applications are not accepted in your country. After filling the forms, book a biometric appointment to give a face scan and fingerprints. Your application will only be considered after you submit your biometrics. See below for links.
Useful links
To download visa forms and learn about where you apply, click here.
To learn more about the Tier 4 General Student visas, click here.