The basics
THE UK: Visa Guides

Nigerian students applying for a UK student visa

Practical advice for Nigerian students travelling to the UK


Studying in the UK may be a dream for many Nigerian students but, even if you have the qualifications and the financial backing, you will not be able to make that dreama reality unless you carefully follow procedures to obtain a student visa. Our guide below can get you started.


Short-term Student Visa

The length of the course will determine the type of visa you need. Nigerian students who come to the UK to study for a maximum of six months (or 11 months if you choose an English language course) will have to enter the UK on a Short-term student visa. There are restrictions with this type of visa. You will not be able to do any work (even if it is part of a course or unpaid work) and cannot apply to extend your stay in the UK. Check information about Short-term student visas for further details.


Tier 4 Student Visa

Before choosing a university to come to the UK as a Tier 4 (General) student, it is worth checking whether a school, college or university you are planning to apply to has been granted a Tier 4 (General) sponsor licence by the Home Office. Only institutions with a Tier 4 sponsor licence can issue you with a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS). The CAS is the first document you will need in order to apply for a visa as a Tier 4 (General) student. It is easy to check an up-to-date list of licensed schools and their rating on the Register of Tier 4 Sponsors (approved education providers).


Tier 4 system was introduced in the UK on 31 March 2009, and if your current immigration permission was granted before then you can use it to continue your full-time studies in the UK. However if your permission will expire before the end of your new course, you must first check with your institution that you will be able to apply to extend your stay under Tier 4 scheme to complete the course.


Tip: If you are intending to study a different course from the one that your visa was granted for, do check with your Tier 4 sponsor whether any change is permitted.



Every accredited school or university will assign a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) - a unique reference number that you must use to apply for permission to study in the UK as a Tier 4 (general) student. The following three criteria must be met in order to receive a CAS:

  1. You have been given an unconditional offer, and
  2. You have paid your registration fee and deposit towards tuition fees, and
  3. School, university or college is satisfied that you meet all of the Immigration rules (including bank statements and Proof of English).

A CAS is valid for six months only starting from the date it was assigned.


Knowledge of English

You must prove you have the required level of the English language knowledge when you apply. This usually means passing a secure English language test (SELT). Universities can choose how to assess a student’s knowledge of English which must be at least:

  • CEFR level B2 if you’re studying at a degree level or higher
  • SELT in reading, writing, listening and speaking and CEFR level B1 if you’re not currently studying at a degree level

Your test needs to be from an approved provider. Check the full visa guidance for detailed information.


The List of Documents

The following documents must be provided for your visa application from Nigeria:

  • 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’re under 18
  • your tuberculosis test results

One will need a page in a passport that’s blank on both sides for a visa. You may also need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances. Read the guidance and appendix for the full list of documents and how much money you’ll need according to your situation. Remember that the Home Office is strict and precise about the finances you have to have access to, and even £1 missing out of the required amount may cause a delay or refusal of your application.


Credibility interviews

Be prepared for a credibility interview. The interview takes about 10 minutes and is held by video conference. Expect detailed questions about the course contents and structure, your choice of university and also be prepared to explain why you need that particular qualification, why you want to study in the UK and what you plan to do after your course.



If you want to make a successful Tier 4 (General) application, it is necessary to read and understand the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance and confirm that you meet the requirements before making an application. The following documents must be prepared for your UK visa from Nigeria:  


  • evidence in the exact format required by the Home Office (the policy guidance and application form have up-to-date explanations for you to follow)
  • all sections of the form must be completed fully and accurately
  • sufficient time must be allowed to prepare the documents required to make your application before the start of the course
  • the application must not come under the general grounds for refusal
  • A Tier 4 visa must be granted before you book your flight ticket to the UK


Application from Nigeria

To make an appointment for a student visa, you will need to contact the British Mission in Nigeria with currently two offices operating in Abuja and Lagos. You can find more about their opening hours and contact telephone numbers here:


It is worth remembering that an entry clearance application cannot be more than three months before the start date of the course and must be no later than six months after the CAS was issued. The current fee for visa applications outside the UK is £322. You will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.


Currently, 98% of Tier 4 applications are decided within just 10 days when applying in Abuja, Nigeria. You can use the Home Office's visa processing times tool to check the processing times and any changes these may have in future. Select a PBS (Points Based System Visas) Tier 4 category in the menu.


Tip: It is recommended to carry a printout of your CAS statement in your hand luggage as the border force officer may ask for evidence of your studies. A printout of the relevant page of the Home Office's Register of Sponsors showing that your institution has Tier 4 Sponsor status will also be helpful.


In the UK

The rules have recently changed which means that you’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of your application and collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when you said you’d arrive in the UK (even if you actually arrive at a later date).


The UK law allows you to do certain things in the country and forbids plans like work as professional sportsperson and some other which you can learn more about below.


You can:

  • study
  • work as a student union sabbatical officer
  • apply from inside or outside the UK
  • apply to extend your stay
  • work - depending on what level your course is and what kind of sponsor you have

You can’t:

  • get public funds
  • work as a professional sportsperson, including a sports coach
  • study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school)

You may be able to bring family members (dependents) to the UK. You can also extend your existing visa or switch to Tier 4 visa if you are already in the UK.

The key to a successful student visa application is to carefully follow the rules that are set out  in the official guidance and here

Useful links:

Study in the UK


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About Author

Elena Sikorsky is an entrepreneur in e-commerce and digital marketing. She has degrees in Entrepreneurial Management and PR and Broadcast Journalism. Elena is a contributing writer on culture, art, education, fashion, business and travel in British and international media.

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