Applying for your Student visa

Find out more about applying for a Student visa.


  • Should I apply for a Student visa?

    You should apply for a Student visa if:

    • You are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national and you will study at Ulster University for more than 6 months; or
    • You are an EU/EEA/Swiss national and you will study at Ulster University for more than 6 months starting on or after 1 January 2021; or
    • You will study at Ulster University for less than 6 months and you must undertake a work placement as part of your studies

    You may also apply for a Student visa if you will study at Ulster University for less than 6 months and you would like permission to work part-time during your stay with us.  If this is the case for you, please contact the Compliance team for advice.

  • When can I apply for my Student visa?

    You can apply for your Student visa as soon as you have received your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from us.

    If you are applying for a Student visa from inside the UK, please note the following important information:

    • If you are applying for a new Student visa to continue a course that you have already started at Ulster University, you must apply before your current visa expires.  If you do not do this, you will become an overstayer and will not have valid permission to be in the UK.
    • If you previously studied at a different Student sponsor institution (e.g. another university in the UK) or you had immigration permission in another immigration category and you are applying for a Student visa to start a new course at Ulster University, you must apply before you enrol at Ulster.  If you do not do this, you will not be permitted to enrol and start your studies.
  • What is my CAS?

    Your CAS is an electronic document that confirms to the UK Home Office that Ulster University has made you an unconditional offer of study.

    You cannot submit a Student visa application without your CAS reference number.

    You can only use your CAS for one Student visa application.

    If your visa application is refused, you must not try to use your CAS to make a new Student visa application. We can only issue you with a new CAS when you have sent us your full refusal notice and if we are satisfied that you will be able to meet the requirements for a new Student visa application.

  • When can I receive my CAS?

    If you will apply for your Student visa from outside the UK, we will issue your CAS up to 6 months before your course starts.

    If you will apply for your Student visa from inside the UK, we will issue your CAS up to 3 months before your course starts.

  • How do I request my CAS?

    When you have met all the conditions of your offer to study at Ulster University and you have paid your deposit (if applicable), we will ask you to complete a CAS request.  You must complete the CAS request and upload all required documents.

    We will issue your CAS when we have checked that all your details are correct and that your uploaded documents meet the Student visa requirements.

  • How will I receive my CAS?

    Your CAS is an electronic document that includes:

    • Your CAS reference number (this is unique to you)
    • Your personal details
    • Ulster University’s details, including our Student sponsor licence number
    • Details of your course, including start date, end date, course title, latest date of enrolment
    • Your study location (campus) address
    • Details of how we assessed your English language level
    • A list of documents (your previous academic qualifications) that we used to make your offer of a place on the course
    • Academic progression details (if you have previously studied in the UK)
    • Details of your tuition fees, including any fees that you have already paid
    • Work placement details (if your course includes a work placement)

    We will email your CAS to you from CASStatements@ulster.ac.uk.

  • How do I report errors on my CAS?

    It is important that you make sure that all of the details in your CAS are correct.

    Please email us immediately at compliance@ulster.ac.uk if you notice any errors on your CAS.  We will need to correct any errors before you make your Student visa application.

  • I have received my CAS.  What do I do now?  

    We recommend that you make your Student visa application as soon as you have received your CAS.  You must enter your CAS reference number in the relevant section of your Student visa application form.

    If you have any questions about your CAS, please contact the Compliance team.

  • How do I apply for a Student visa from outside the UK?

    If you are making your Student visa application from outside the UK you must apply in your home country or normal country of residence.

    When to apply

    You must apply for your Student visa before you travel to the UK.

    You will need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) in order to apply for a Student visa.  You may apply for your visa up to 6 months before the course start date on your CAS.

    If you are applying for your Student visa in August or September, we recommend that you use the priority service to ensure that you receive your visa in time to travel to the UK and start your studies at Ulster.  You will not be permitted to enrol and start your studies after the latest date of enrolment.

    How long will it take?

    UKVI aims to process Student visa applications submitted through the standard service within 15 working days.  However, it can take longer than this depending on when and where you make your application. The peak period for Student visa applications is between July and September. We recommend that you submit your Student visa application as soon as you can after you receive your CAS.

    If you would like your visa to be processed more quickly, you can pay an additional fee to fast-track your application.  This is known as priority service and is available at most visa application centres.  Other services including a walk-in service and prime time appointments are available at some visa application centres.  Click here to find your nearest visa application centre and to check what services are offered.

    How to apply

    Step 1 - Check the Student visa guidance

    Step 2 - Apply online for a Student visa

    Step 3 - Follow the instructions to either:

    • Attend a visa application centre to submit your supporting documents and/or provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph); or
    • use the 'UK Immigration: ID Check' app to scan your identity document - you will also create or sign into your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account

    Check the advice and different services available for a Student visa application from your country.

    Step 4 – Receive your documents and your visa.  You may be able to choose to collect your documents or have them delivered to you by post or courier.

    How much does it cost?

    The cost of a Student visa application is £348.  You may pay more for additional services.

    You will pay an Immigration Health Surcharge when you pay your Student visa application fee.

    Attending an interview

    You may be asked to attend an interview as part of your Student visa application process. Failing an interview is one of the main reasons why Student visa applications are refused.

    The interview will be conducted by a member of Home Office staff who will assess whether you are a 'genuine student' and have the required level of English language proficiency.

    You may be asked detailed questions about your new course of study, your previous UK study and immigration history, how you will fund your studies and the reasons you have chosen to study your course in the UK and at Ulster University.

    It is essential that you answer all questions at your interview clearly and in detail.

    Help and support with your application

    If you need help to complete and submit your Student visa application, please contact ise@ulster.ac.uk

  • How do I apply for a Student visa from inside the UK?

    If you are already in the UK with immigration permission, you may be able to apply for permission to stay in the UK on a Student visa from within the UK.

    Please note:

    • If you are already in the UK on a Tier 4/Student visa, you can only apply to extend your Student visa from inside the UK if you fulfil the academic progression requirements.
    • If there is a gap of more than 28 days between the expiry date of your Tier 4/Student visa and your new course start date, you must leave the UK and apply for a new Student visa from outside the UK.
    • If you currently have permission to be in the UK in another immigration category, you will need to check whether you are eligible to switch to a Student visa from inside the UK. You cannot switch to a Student visa in the UK if you have a visit visa, Short-term Student visa or leave outside the rules.

    How long will it take?

    Application processing time and cost varies depending on the service you choose. The standard processing time is 8 weeks. Check the options for getting a faster decision on your visa application.

    How to apply for a Student visa

    The application processing time and cost varies depending on the service you choose. If you want to get a decision more quickly than the standard 8 weeks, check the options for getting a faster decision on your visa application.

    Step 1 - Check the Student visa guidance

    Step 2 - Apply online for a Student visa

    Step 3 - Follow the instructions to either

    • give your fingerprints and a photograph (biometric information) at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point; or
    • use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document - you will also create or sign in to your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account

    Step 4 - Make an appointment to attend a UKVCAS service centre (you will receive an email if you do not need to do this)

    Step 5 - Attend the UKVCAS appointment

    Step 6 – When your visa has been processed, you will receive your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) by post or courier

    How much does it cost?

    The cost of a Student visa application is £475.  You will pay more for additional services.

    You will pay an Immigration Health Surcharge when you pay your Student visa application fee.  You may also need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

    Attending an interview

    You may be asked to attend an interview as part of your Student visa application process. It is important that you prepare for your interview so you are able to explain your answers clearly and in detail.  You will be asked questions about your new course of study, your previous UK study and immigration history, how you will fund your studies and the reasons you have chosen to study in the UK at Ulster University.

    The interview will be conducted by a member of Home Office staff who will assess whether you are a 'genuine student' and have the required level of English language proficiency.

    Help and support with your application

    If you need help to complete and submit your Student visa application, please contact ise@ulster.ac.uk

  • What is the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)?

    The UK has a healthcare system which is paid for through taxes.  All UK nationals and most residents have equal access to the National Health Service (NHS) without being charged each time they visit a doctor or hospital.

    The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) helps fund the NHS, and will give you the same access to the NHS as UK citizens.  You will pay the IHS when you apply for your visa.

    Who has to pay the IHS?

    If you make your visa application outside the UK, you will have to pay the IHS when you apply for a visa for a period of longer than six months.  You do not need to pay if you are applying for a visitor visa.

    If you are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you only need to pay if you are applying to come to the UK from 1 January 2021.

    If you make your visa application within the UK, you will have to pay the IHS when you apply for a visa of any length.

    How much does the IHS cost?

    As a Student, you will pay £470 for each year of your visa. You will pay £235 for part of a year that is less than six months.

    For example, if you are studying a three-year course, you will be charged £ (£470 for each year of the course, plus £235 for the four-month period at the end of your visa).

    Dependants usually need to pay the same amount as you.

    You can check how much you will have to pay using the IHS calculator

    When do I pay the IHS?

    You will make your payment as part of your online visa application.  If you are making an immigration application by post, you must make your payment before you complete your application.

    You must pay the IHS by debit or credit card.

    For more information on the IHS, please see link below:

  • How much money do I need for my Student visa?

    Your financial documents are one of the most important parts of your Student visa application.  Submitting incorrect financial documents is one of the main reasons why Student visa applications are refused.

    How much money do I need?

    If you are new to study in the UK

    To receive your CAS and meet the Student visa financial requirements, you must be able to provide evidence that you have enough money to pay for:

    • Tuition fees for the first year of your course - this amount will be on your CAS; and
    • Your living costs

    You must provide evidences of your funds before we can issue your CAS.

    If you are applying to continue a course in the UK

    To meet the Student visa financial requirements, you must be able to provide evidence that you have enough money to pay for:

    • The next academic year's fees, or outstanding fees if; and
    • Your living costs

    Note: if you have been in the UK with valid immigration permission for 12 months on the date that your CAS is issued, you will not need to demonstrate evidence of your finances when you apply for your Student visa.

    Living costs

    Financial requirements (living costs) for visa applications made on or before 30 November 2020
    Study locationAmount per monthMaximum amount (9 months)
    Outside London£1,015£9,135
    Inside London£1,265£11,835
    Financial requirements (living costs) for visa applications made on or after 1 December 2020
    Study locationAmount per monthMaximum amount (9 months)
    Outside London£1,023 
    Inside London£1,334£12,006

    .

    Download a copy of our Tier 4 Financial Requirements guide.

  • How can I make sure that I meet the financial requirements?

    For detailed guidance and advice on Student visa financial requirements, please look at our Student visa: Preparing your Finances guide.

    This guide details the requirements for you if you are:

    • self-funded
    • funded by your parent/legal guardian
    • funded by an official financial sponsor
    • a low-risk national
  • Do I need to provide evidence of my finances in order to receive my CAS?

    If you meet the conditions below, you do not need to provide evidence of your finances to us before we issue your CAS

    You do not need to provide evidence that you meet the financial requirement (or provide documents used to obtain an offer) when you submit your visa application if:

    1. you are applying from the country or territory when you are living, or from in the UK ; and
    2. you hold a valid passport which shows that you are registered as a British National (Overseas), or which was issued by the competent authorities of Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR or Taiwan (which includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan); or
    3. you are a national of one of the following countries below
    • Australia
    • Austria
    • Bahrain
    • Barbados
    • Belgium
    • Botswana
    • Brazil
    • Brunei
    • Bulgaria
    • Cambodia
    • Canada
    • Chile
    • China
    • Croatia
    • Republic of Cyprus
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • The Dominican Republic
    • Estonia
    • Finland France
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Iceland
    • Indonesia
    • Ireland
    • Italy
    • Japan
    • Kazakhstan
    • Kuwait
    • Latvia
    • Liechtenstein
    • Lithuania
    • Luxembourg
    • Malaysia
    • Malta
    • Mauritius
    • Mexico
    • Netherlands New Zealand
    • Norway
    • Oman
    • Peru
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Qatar
    • Romania
    • Serbia
    • Singapore
    • Slovakia
    • Slovenia
    • South Korea
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Thailand
    • Tunisia
    • United Arab Emirates
    • United States of America

    The list of nationals is updated regularly so please check the Student immigration rules (ST22.1) for the most up-to-date list.

    Please note that these nationals are often referred to as 'low-risk' nationals.

    If you meet the conditions above, you must confirm on your Student visa application that you have enough money to meet the financial requirements. You could later be asked to provide evidence of your finances and your qualifications by the Entry Clearance Officer.  You should not apply for your Student visa if you would not be able to provide this evidence if requested to do so.  If you are asked to provide evidence and you are unable to do so by the given deadline, your Student visa application will be refused.

    If you do not meet the conditions above, you must provide evidence that you meet the Student visa financial requirements before we issue your CAS

  • What will my Student visa be like?

    Visa vignette (sticker)

    If you apply for your Student visa from outside the UK, you will be given a visa vignette (sticker) in your passport.  The visa vignette contains basic details about you and your Student visa permission, and is normally valid for 30 days.  It will allow you to travel to the UK.  You will need the visa vignette to enter the UK.  You may then collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

    Please note that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, visa vignettes are currently being granted for 90-days in order to offer flexibility for travel to the UK.

    An Immigration Officer will stamp your vignette with an entry stamp confirming your date of entry to the UK when you go through UK immigration control.

    Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

    Your full Student visa will be in the form of a BRP.  Your BRP is a credit card-size card that contains your biometric details (your fingerprints and a photograph of your face) and details of your Student visa.  Your BRP will be valid for the full duration of your course plus the 'wrap-up' period at the end of your course.

    If you apply for your Student visa from outside the UK, you will collect your BRP when you have travelled to and entered the UK.

    If you apply for your Student visa from inside the UK, you will receive your BRP by post or courier.

  • How can I collect my Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)?

    Applying for your visa from outside the UK

    When you apply for your Student visa you must choose how you wish to receive your BRP.  You can choose to have your BRP sent to a UK Post Office or to the university.

    Collecting from a Post Office

    If you would like to collect your BRP from the Post Office, you can use the branch finder to locate the branch closest to where you will live. Not all Post Offices will offer this service, so ensure you select 'BRP Collection Service' from the ‘Choose a Service’ drop down menu.

    In Northern Ireland the Post Offices which provide this service are located in:

    • Londonderry
    • Antrim
    • Belfast
    • Newry
    • Enniskillen

    Collecting from the University

    If you would like to collect your BRP from the university, you must choose to collect your BRP from an' alternative location' and input ACL code 2HE597 when you complete your Student visa application form.  Your BRP will be delivered directly to Ulster University.  You must attend an in-person appointment at the university to collect your BRP.  There are no exceptions to this.

    Applying for your visa from inside the UK

    If you apply for your Student visa from inside the UK, your BRP will be delivered directly to the address that you specify on your Student visa application form.

  • How do I report errors on my visa vignette?

    Check your visa vignette carefully when you receive it.  If there are any errors on your vignette that would prevent you from entering the UK as planned, you must get the errors amended before you travel to the UK. This includes errors with your name, nationality or ‘valid from’ date.

    Please contact the Compliance team for advice if you notice mistakes on your visa vignette.

    Passport, visa and BRP problems

  • What do I do if my visa vignette is lost or stolen outside the UK?

    If your visa vignette is lost or stolen outside the UK, you will need to apply for a “vignette transfer” as soon as you have received your new passport.

    You can apply to have your visa vignette transferred to a new passport online.  This will cost £169.

    When you complete your online application, please select the following route:

    Reason for visit: Other

    Visa type: Others

    Visa sub type: Vignette transfer

    You do not need to provide a CAS or evidence of funds or qualifications etc. (unless this is requested by UKVI). However, you must submit a letter from Ulster University confirming you have been accepted to study with us, in addition to a photocopy of your evidence of leave and your police report.

  • Student visa - what are my responsibilities?

    As a student with a Student visa, it is your responsibility to ensure that you comply with the conditions of your visa at all times. Failing to comply with the conditions of your Student visa is an offence and could result in your visa being cancelled.

    As a Student, you must:

    Enrol
    • Complete your enrolment at Ulster University on or before the latest date of enrolment

    You must enrol by the latest date of enrolment even if you are outside the UK and have not yet received your Student visa.  If you fail to enrol by the latest date of enrolment, we will be unable to maintain sponsorship of your Student visa.

    Keep your details and information up-to-date
    • Provide us with copies of your passport, visa sticker (vignette) and Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or proof of your visa application if you applied for your visa in the UK
    • Notify us of any changes to your passport or visa
    • Update your contact details each time they change.  This includes your term-time address, email and mobile phone number. You can do this through Banner Self Service.
    • Register with the Police (if you are required to do so)
    Engage in full with your studies
    • This means that you must attend all your classes (lectures, seminars, tutorials, practicals), undertake all examinations, submit coursework when required, attend meetings with your academic advisor/supervisor and undertake all other tasks required for your course
    • You must also attend all mandatory on-campus, in-person classes
    • Let us know if, for any reason, you are absent from your studies. Your absence must be authorised by your Course Director and/or the Compliance Team
    • Let us know immediately if you wish to take a break in your studies (Leave Of Absence) or if you wish to make any changes to your studies

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be studying by distance learning from inside or outside the UK.

    You must engage in full with your studies (as above) regardless of whether you are inside or outside the UK.

    If you fail to engage in full with your studies, we will be unable to maintain sponsorship of your  Tier 4/Student visa.

    • Leave the UK or apply to extend your stay in the UK before your visa expires

    Get details of your Student visa rights and responsibilities.

  • Student visa - what are the university's responsibilities?

    As a Student sponsor, it is our responsibility to ensure that we comply with the conditions of our Student sponsor licence.

    Failing to comply with the conditions of our Student sponsor license is an offence and could result in our sponsor license being withdrawn.

    As your Student sponsor, Ulster University must:

    • Maintain an up-to-date file of your contact and visa details
    • Monitor your academic engagement.  To do this, we will monitor your engagement with your studies, including your attendance in class, exams and/or meetings with your academic advisor/supervisor, your coursework submission deadlines and your academic progress.  This includes all studies undertaken by distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Report changes to your circumstances to UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI).  This includes:
      • If you fail to enrol and begin your studies
      • If you change your course
      • If you change your study location
      • If you begin a work placement as part of your course
      • If you withdraw from your course
      • If you complete your course earlier than the original expected end date
      • If you take a break from your studies (e.g. Leave of absence)
      • If you fail to engage with your studies and we withdraw our sponsorship of your Tier 4/Student visa
      • If you change your immigration status (e.g. you get a different visa)
      • If you apply for a new visa and it is refused, and you lose the right to study in the UK
    • Report to UKVI if you break any immigration rules (e.g. if you work more hours than permitted during term-time)
  • How long may I study in the UK on a Student visa?

    There are limits on how long you are permitted to study in the UK on a Student visa at different levels.

    Courses below undergraduate degree level

    You are permitted to study courses below degree level in the UK with a Student visa for up to two years.

    Courses at undergraduate degree level

    You are permitted to study a course at undergraduate degree level with a Student visa for up to 5 years unless you are studying an exempt course (e.g. architecture, medicine)

    Courses at postgraduate degree level and above

    There is no limit on study at postgraduate degree level and above

    How will the time limit be calculated?

    The time limit is linked to the duration of your Student visa rather than the duration of your course/s.  The time will normally be calculated from the start date of your first Tier 4/Student visa, until four months after you expect to complete your new course (i.e. the expiry date of a new Student visa). Any time during which you did not hold a valid Tier 4/Student visa will be discounted.

Students applying from China or India

The following videos show students from China and India as they prepare to make their visa applications for study in the UK and then as they prepare to travel here.

UK visa application from China UK visa application from China

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UK visa application from China

UK visa application from India  UK visa application from India

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UK visa application from India