Applying for a student visa overseas
Student Visa Route
The Student Visa Route was introduced on 5 October 2020 and has replaced the Tier 4 Student Visa. We have provided the information below, based upon common queries, to assist you with the application process however if you feel your query has not been answered below please contact the International Student Support team with your query.
Imperial College does not hold a Child Student Visa licence and as a result are unable to sponsor any students who are under 16 years of age. Your age will be taken as the age that you are on the date of making your visa application.
How will the Coronavirus affect my visa application?
Many of the UK’s Visa Application Centres (VACs) are currently closed and we anticipate more closing. Many that are open are offering limited services.
For up to date advice on services in each country individuals should access the relevant commercial partner:
- Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East visit: uk.tlscontact.com
- All other countries visit: vfsglobal.co.uk
Please continue to check the following for updated advice and guidance:
Do I need a visa to study in the UK?
- You will be required to apply via the Student Visa Route unless you hold a full British passport, if you hold settled or pre-settled status (EU/EEA/Swiss nationals) or you already have a different type of visa that allows you to study for the full length of your course.
- EU/EEA/Swiss nationals without settled or pre-settled status who arrive after 1 January 2021 will be required to apply for a visa under this route.
- If you will be studying for less than 6 months or attending the College as an occasional or visiting student then please refer to our Short-term study webpage.
- Students on a part-time postgraduate course (excluding EMBA, Weekend MBA and Global MBA) will be required to apply for a part-time Student Visa.
Where do I apply for a visa?
You will need to apply from the country where you are a resident through the nearest Visa Application Centre.
When can I apply?
- The earliest you can make your visa application is from 6 months before the start date of your course.
- You will be issued with a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) once you have met all the conditions of your offer (one of which may be ATAS).
- Generally an overseas application should take 3 weeks but the length of time can vary so we recommend that you check the visa processing time in your country.
What are the financial requirements?
Please refer to our financial requirements page for further information.
Will I have to undergo a TB screening?
Do I need to apply for ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme)
How do I make an application?
To make an application please refer to the GOV.UK website.
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.
- 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 - you’ll also create or sign into your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account
EU / EEA / Swiss Nationals making a Student visa application
Biometric passport + smartphone
If you are an EU / EEA / Swiss national then you will need to verify your identity as part of your application. This can be done via a smartphone using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app, as part of the online application.
You will need a biometric passport and a compatible smartphone. The app is free and is compatible with Android phones and iPhone 7 or newer models. If you do not own a compatible phone, you can use the app from a family or friend’s mobile phone. No information is stored on the phone or app after you close it.
If you use the 'UK Immigration: ID Check' app and are successful in your application, you will receive written notification by email. This will include details of how to sign in to the View and Prove service on GOV.UK, where you can check your immigration status and its conditions at any time.
The View and Prove service can also be used to share and evidence your rights in the UK at any time – such as the right to work or study – by giving organisations or people, such as employers or universities, access to the relevant information about your immigration status. This is a fully secure, simple service which enables you to view up to date information about your immigration status at any time. You will receive your digital immigration status instead of a physical visa or permit card.
No biometric passport or no smartphone
If you do not have a biometric passport or access to a compatible smartphone, or if ID verification through the app is not yet available for the route you are applying through, you will need to attend a Visa Application Centre. You should still start your application on GOV.UK. If you are directed to attend a Visa Application Centre you will be given further information about this process and what documents you will need to provide upon your visit.
If you complete identity verification at a Visa Application Centre and are successful in your application, you will receive a sticker (called a vignette) in your passport and will be granted a Biometric Residence Permit after your arrival in the UK. This will allow you to use some online services on GOV.UK, such as evidencing your right to work.
When making your journey to the UK, you will need to travel with the same document you made your application with.
What documents will I need as part of my application?
For further information on the documents that you will need to prepare for your Student Visa application please visit our documents page.
Will I have to attend an interview?
- As part of your UK visa application process overseas you may be interviewed by the Home Office and this is called a 'credibility interview'.
- A few initial questions will be asked at the time when you are providing your biometrics (fingerprints and photographs). This should take approximately 5 minutes and the questions will be carried out via a video link with a member of staff from the Home Office in the UK.
- The types of questions that you may be asked include: why you decided to study in the UK; why you decided to study at Imperial College or the particular course; basic questions about the course content; your immigration history and previous education.
- We advise that you make sure that you read information on your department's website to familiarise yourself with the course content for your particular programme.
- In the unlikely event that your visa application is refused on the basis of the credibility interview please contact International Student Support with a scan of the refusal letter so that we can advise you further.
Will I need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit?
Can I bring my family?
What is the Immigration Health Surcharge?
The Immigration Health Surcharge is a fee that is charged at the time when you submit your visa application.
Cost: From 27 October 2020 the health surcharge will be increasing to £ 470 per year for a main applicant and £ 470 per year per dependant for each year of the visa granted. The health surcharge is incorporated into the online visa application form and is paid only once the application has been submitted online. You can check online to calculate the health surcharge you will need to pay.
How the surcharge is calculated: The amount payable will be based on the maximum period of time for which a visa could be granted under the relevant application route (eg 17 months for a one year Masters course). Where the maximum period includes part of a year, a pro-rata payment will be applied. Where this is for six months or less, the amount payable will be half the annual surcharge. Where the period is for more than six months, the full yearly surcharge will be payable.
Healthcare provided to those who pay the surcharge: Health surcharge payers will be able to access the National Health Service in the same way as a permanent UK resident, i.e. they will receive NHS care generally free of charge but may be charged for services a permanent resident would also pay for, such as dental treatment and prescription charges in England
There are a limited number of exemptions to paying the health surcharge. You can read the full list of exemptions and further information about the health surcharge on the Home Office website.