The basics
THE UK: Visa Guides

European students applying for a UK student visa

Practical advice for European students travelling to the UK


The UK is a hugely popular country for students around the world, with its wide range of universities and colleges. With so many students coming from abroad to study here, it can be a bit confusing to fully understand the different UK student visa rules, even if you're European. Who needs to apply and who is exempt?


If you are from the EEA, you do not need to apply for a visa. The EEA includes European Union countries and Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, however when you enter the UK, you may be asked to show documentation proving that you have been enrolled on a course at a UK university. You will also have to show a passport or an identification card (EU only).   European Community law gives you an initial right of residence in the UK for three months if you are an EEA national. If you want to live in the UK for more than three months, you must be a ’qualified person’. As a student you will be defined as such.


European students not part of the EEA

If you are from a European countries which is not part of the EEA (eg. Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, or Turkey), you will need to apply for a UK student visa, alongside other non-European students. You can check if you need a UK student visa on this website


Non-EEA students who wish to study at a college or university in the United Kingdom need to apply for either a study visa or short-term study visa, depending on the duration of the course.

Most students will need a study visa, which is required for courses lasting more than six months, or more than 11 months if it is an English language course.

A short-term study visa is needed if you are over 18 and are studying an English language course for 11 months of less.


Study visa

You can apply for a study visa (known as a Tier 4 or General student visa) if you are 16 or over and meet the following requirements:

  • have been offered a place on a course
  • can speak, read, write and understand English (see Knowledge of English below)
  • have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances


When to apply

You can apply from three months before the start of your course. You will usually get a decision on your visa within three weeks. Most applications are processed within 30 days.



It currently costs £322 to apply for a study visa. You will also have to pay £322 per person for any dependents.

You will have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application as well. How much you pay will depend on your age and the length of your study. You can calculate the cost on the UK government’s website.


Knowledge of English

Applicants must prove their knowledge of the English language when they apply. This usually means passing a secure English language test (SELT). For details of where to take this test, you should contact the British Council in your country.


Required documents

When you apply for the visa, you must provide the following:

·       a current passport or other valid travel documentation

  • one passport-sized colour photograph with your name written on the reverse side
  • proof that you can support yourself and pay for your course – this will vary depending on your circumstances
  • proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if you are under 18
  • your tuberculosis test results

You may also need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances. Your documents will usually be sent back within 14 days.


Application deadline

For students wishing to enter university in September, you should complete your visa application by 5 July.

As part of your application, you will also need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre to get a biometric residence permit.


Useful links:

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About Author

Anette Lien is a recent journalism graduate and an avid traveller. Hailing from a small town in Norway, she went on to study in India before settling down in London, UK. She has previously worked for a local newspaper, at various music websites and as an Expedia blogger. When she is not travelling, or writing about travelling, she enjoys going to small gigs with quirky, underground bands.


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