There are two stages to a UK student visa application: applying for confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) and applying for your student visa.
These stages are separate and must be completed in order (you cannot apply for a student visa without valid CAS).
Applying for CAS
Before you can apply for a student visa for postgraduate study you must be accepted onto an eligible Masters course and issued with CAS by your university.
In order to do this you must find a Masters in the UK and apply as normal. Once you have been given an unconditional offer to study at your university you can request a CAS statement from them.
To do this you will need to submit official confirmation of your academic qualifications, including transcripts of course content and degree results. This information will be used by your university to validate your CAS.
Universities may ask you for a deposit as part of their CAS process. This will usually be a proportion of your postgraduate fees. Requiring a fee deposit helps universities ensure that your application is genuine and that you intend to study with them.
Once your university is satisfied with your application it will issue you with a unique CAS number.
Applying for a student visa
Once you have your CAS you can apply for your visa online.
In addition to your CAS you must provide the following materials:
- A valid passport with sufficient space for your visa
- Evidence of your maintenance funds
Documents should be supplied by post and will normally be returned within 14 days. Note that you do not have to send any documents that you have already used for your CAS application. Once your university has issued you with CAS it verifies that this evidence has been seen and is correct.
Visiting a visa application centre
In addition to your online application you will need to submit fingerprints and a photograph. This should be done at an official visa application centre (VAC) in your home country. Your fingerprints and photograph will be used to create a biometric residence permit when you arrive in the UK.
Applicants from certain countries may also be able to use an app known as ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ to verify their identity without visiting a visa application centre.
How much does a student visa cost?
If you're applying from outside the UK, the fee for a UK student visa is £348. This is non-refundable.
If you’re applying from inside the UK (either to extend an existing student visa or to switch from a different kind of visa), the fee is £475.
Other costs can include:
- A fee deposit (if required by your university when issuing CAS)
- An immigration healthcare surcharge (see below)
Paying your immigration healthcare surcharge
International students can access the UK's National Health Service (NHS). However, you must pay an immigration healthcare surcharge in order to do so.
The cost of this for a student is normally £470 per year. You can check the specific amount you'll need to pay online.
You should pay this surcharge online as part of your student visa application.
How long will my application take?
If you're applying from outside the UK, you can apply for a visa six months before your Masters begins. Most visa applications will take three weeks to process, but you should try to leave longer in case there are any additional requirements with your application.
If you’re applying from inside the UK, you can apply three months before your course begins. You’ll usually receive a decision within eight weeks.