Choose a visa for study

There are several visas which allow you to study in the UK. This page will help you compare them and choose one.

Tier 4 (General) Student visa

This is the most common visa for study. If you meet the requirements of a Tier 4 (General) Student visa, then we recommend that you study with us on that type of visa because it is normally the most suitable route when studying full time in the UK.

Who can apply

You may be able to apply for Tier 4 (General) if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are aged 16 or over
  • You will be studying full time
  • You have been unconditionally accepted to study with a Tier 4 licensed sponsor - such as the University of Birmingham
  • Your course is at the required level
  • You have not studied 5 years or more, in the UK, on a student visa route

Find out more

Short-term study visa

A Short-term study visa allows individuals to come to the UK to study, usually for up to 6 months.

Who can apply

This type of visa is normally suitable in the following circumstances:

  • Your course will last for less than 6 months (or 11 months if you will study an English Language course)
  • You need to return to the UK to re-sit an examination
  • You are completing a split location course, which requires you to be in the UK for a maximum of 6 months

In addition, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You are aged 18 or over
  • You have been unconditionally accepted to study with a Tier 4 licensed sponsor - such as the University of Birmingham.

Advantages and disadvantages

A Short-term study visa has the following advantages:

  • The financial requirements are less rigid compared to a Tier 4 (General) Visa
  • Processing times are usually quicker than with Tier 4 applications
  • Students from certain countries can apply for this type of visa at the port of entry, rather than in advance of their travel
  • It is useful if you need to re-sit some of your exams
  • If your course is less than 6 months (or less than 11 months if it is an English Language course) and you are unable to obtain a CAS, you may be able to study
  • You can study part time on this type of visa

However, because a Tier 4 visa is the most suitable for studying full time in the UK, the Short-term study visa has some disadvantages:

  • You are unable to extend this visa from within the UK
  • You cannot apply for a different visa from within the UK if you are here on a Short-term study visa
  • You cannot work at all while you are in the UK with a Short-term study visa
  • You cannot apply for this visa if you are already in the UK
  • You cannot bring your family with you

Find out more

Studying on a dependant visa

If you are the spouse or child of a UK visa holder (excluding visitor visas), you may hold or be able to apply for a dependant visa.You will be able to study on a dependant visa.

Who can apply

Our family immigration pages explain who can apply for a dependant's visa.

Advantages and disadvantages

Using a dependant visa to study has the following advantages:

  • There are no restrictions on study on this visa – you can study full-time or part time
  • There are no restrictions on work on this visa
  • You can extend this visa from within the UK (but you have to apply for it outside the UK)

However, studying on a dependant visa has some disadvantages:

  • You may need to register with the police depending on your nationality – it will state whether you need to register with the police in your visa
  • Dependant visas are issued in line with the main visa holder, so for example if the main applicant’s visa is valid until 31/12/2015, the dependant’s visa will have the same expiry date. If the main visa holder’s visa is curtailed for any reason, the dependant’s visa would also be curtailed which would mean that you need to leave the UK. This may affect your ability to complete your studies.

Find out more

Old book spines

If you cannot study on a Tier 4 visa, then you may still be able to study. Look at our information on this web page or contact us for more information