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Making a student visa application outside the UK

Find out everything you need to know about applying for a student visa from outside of the UK.

Coronavirus latest

If you need a new student visa to resume your studies or start a course with us, consider these things while applying for a visa during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Visa application centres in your country

Most visa application centres outside the UK have re-opened, depending on local restrictions. Expect delays and limited appointments.

Check your local centre for any Coronavirus restrictions: find a visa application centre.

See TLS Contact centres if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East or VFS Global centres for all other countries.

If a visa application centre is still closed, you can visit a centre in any country worldwide (subject to that country’s entry requirements) to submit your application and biometrics.

Getting a TB certificate

Find out if you need a tuberculosis certificate as part of your visa application.

Think about how much time you will need to make your application, especially if you cannot yet travel to or access your nearest TB clinic or visa application centre.

I’m due to start a course or resume studies in September 2021 – when should I apply for my visa?

See the latest Coronavirus information on entering the UK.

Once you receive your CAS, it will be valid for six months from the date it was produced. You can make your student visa application at any time during that validity. If you are a returning student and have not been issued a visa and your CAS has expired, email:

See below for the date of intended travel you should write on the visa application form and how your 90 day travel vignette will be issued (which you will use to enter the UK). If you get a visa but you do not travel to the UK, it’s unlikely you will get refunds for the immigration health surcharge or your application fee.

Tip: Only apply if you are reasonably certain you can travel to the UK. If you apply for a visa, but then cannot arrive at Sussex during the validity of your travel vignette, you will need to apply and pay for a replacement (see below).

If you plan to apply for a Graduate Work Visa you need to have studied in the UK first. The only concession is for people who have been distance learning outside the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic. To be eligible, you must return to the UK for your last semester by certain dates, depending on when your course started and will finish. See more about graduate work visas.

The date you plan to arrive in the UK

You will be issued a 90-day vignette (sticker in your passport) and will need to enter the UK within this 90-day period.

This 90 days will start:

  • 30 days before the course start date on your CAS, or
  • seven days before the date you specified on your application as the date you plan to arrive in the UK – whichever is later.

Consider when you will realistically be able to travel to the UK and when you are expected to arrive at Sussex (including potential quarantine time when you get here).

I have a visa but can’t travel during the validity of my 90-day vignette. What do I do?

You can apply for a replacement vignette. You will have to pay £154 for this new application and provide your biometric information again, but you will not have to submit a new student visa application.

You will need to apply online for a Transfer of conditions (vignette transfer).

Select the following options:

  • Confirm your visa type: BRP Vignette Transfer
  • Category of application: To transfer or replace your visa (vignette)

In the additional information section you should explain that you have been granted a student visa to study in the UK but that you need a new 90-day vignette as you have not been able (or will not be able) to travel to the UK before the end of your 90-day vignette.

Tip: Only apply if you are certain you can travel to the UK. If you cannot travel within the validity period of your new vignette, you will need to re-apply and pay £154 again.

You will be able to collect your Biometric Residence Permit when you arrive in the UK. If it has been delivered to us, we will hold it for you.

Visa application requirements

You can apply for a student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:

Check if you need a student visa.

When and where you can apply

The earliest you can apply for your visa is six months before your course start date.

You can apply in the country where you are living. “Living” means you are in the country lawfully for a reason other than a short-term visit, such as work or study. You can’t apply if you’re a tourist.

Documents you need for a visa

There are several documents most people will need to supply to get a visa.

See the visa application documents you need to provide.

Proof of funds

Check what documents you need to supply to prove you have the money to do your course.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies

Find out how you get a CAS and why you need one.

Cost of application

It costs £348 to apply outside the UK. You must also pay £348 per person for any dependants.

You also have to pay a healthcare surcharge of £470 for each year of your course. This also applies for each dependant.

Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

Apply online for your visa

You must apply online on the UKVI website.

Check how long your visa will take to process.

Proving your identity

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity.

How you do this depends on where you’re from and what type of passport you have.

You’ll either:

  • give your fingerprints and a photograph (biometric information) at a visa application centre
  • use the UK Immigration: ID Check app to scan your identity document (this applies to most EU nationals) – you’ll also create or sign into a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account.
  • You’ll be told what you need to do when you apply. You normally submit all your documents at the centre or using the app.

If you need to attend a centre, many have extra “user pay services” (such as priority visa processing and document checks) which you pay for online or when you go to the centre. Check the website of your visa application centre to see its services.

Credibility interview

You may need to do a credibility interview (done via a video link) with UKVI as part of your visa application.

If you don’t attend your interview, your visa application may be refused.

Find out how to prepare for your credibility interview.

Receiving your visa

If your application is successful, you’ll get either a:

For non-EU nationals, if your visa is for longer than six months, you get a 90-day vignette (sticker) in your passport.

This begins either 30 days before the course start date on your CAS or seven days before the date you said you would travel to the UK, whichever is later.

If you don’t travel to the UK during this period, you must apply and pay for another vignette if you still want to come to the UK.

The vignette in your passport allows you to enter the UK within the 90-day period but it’s not your actual visa.

When you arrive in the UK, you get your BRP. This is your visa.

Important: You must always arrive in the UK within the validity of your Student visa. This will either be within the validity of your 90-day vignette (if you have been issued one) or after the valid from date of your Student visa (this applies to most EU nationals who have been issued a digital immigration status).

As part of the University registration procedures, you will need to show either your date stamped 90-day vignette or a flight ticket/boarding pass showing the date you entered the UK. If you have entered the UK before the validity of your Student visa, you will not be able to register for your course. You will need to leave the UK and re-enter during the validity of your Student visa.

Studying for fewer than six months

If your visa is for fewer than six months, non-EU nationals receive a vignette (sticker) in their passport. This is a visa for the entire study period. Check the end date is correct.

How long your visa will last

If your course is:

  • 12 months or longer, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus four months
  • between six and 12 months long, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus two months
  • less than six months long, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus seven days.

If you’re studying a pre-sessional course which is less than six months, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus one month.

Arriving in the UK

See our guidance for what to do when you arrive in the UK.

Collecting your biometric residence permit

You collect your biometric residence permit as part of the Sussex registration process.

See more from Applying for a student visa