Fri | Sep 29, 2023

Immigration Corner | Applying for the new student visa

Published:Tuesday | January 31, 2023 | 12:44 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I would like to apply for a student visa to study in the United Kingdom (UK). I understand that the Tier 4 visa has now been replaced with a student visa and I am hoping that you can advise me.

Any assistance would be appreciated.


Dear HG,

Persons can apply for a student visa to study in the UK if they are 16 years old or over and if they:

• Have been offered a place on a course by a licenced student sponsor;

• Have enough money to support themselves and pay for their course – the amount will vary depending on their circumstances;

• Can speak, read, write and understand English;

• Have consent from their parents if they are 16 years old or 17 – they will need evidence of this when applying.

If they are 16 or 17 years old and they want to study at an independent school in the UK, they may be eligible for a child student visa instead.

Please be aware that this visa has replaced the Tier 4 (general) student visa. When persons can apply will depend on whether they are applying from inside or outside the UK.

When persons are applying from outside the UK, the earliest that they can apply for a visa is six months before they start their course. After applying, they will usually get a decision on the visa within three weeks.

When applying from inside the UK, the earliest a person can apply is three months before the course starts. Those persons must apply before their current visa expires, and the new course must begin within 28 days of your current visa expiring. Persons will usually get a decision within eight weeks of applying.


How long a person can stay depends on the length of the course and what study he/she has already completed in the UK.

If the person is 18 years old or over and the course is at degree level, he/she can usually stay in the UK for up to five years. If it is below degree level, he/she can usually stay in the UK for up to two years. It is advised that applicants read the guidance online to find out exactly how long he/she can stay.


Persons may be able to extend their visa if they are eligible, for example, to continue their studies in the UK. They may also switch to a student visa from another visa if they are already in the UK; or switch to a graduate visa to stay in the UK for at least two years after successfully completing their course.


Persons can arrive before their course starts. This can be either up to one week before, if their course lasts six months or less; or up to one month before, if their course lasts more than six months.

Please be aware that persons must not travel to the UK before the start date given on their visa, no matter when the course starts. Persons may be able to take their partner and children (‘dependents’).


It costs £363 to apply for a student visa from outside the UK, and £490 to extend or switch to a student visa from inside the UK. Persons must pay the visa fee for each person that joins them. Persons will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of their application. How much they pay will depend on how long your visa lasts. It is recommended that persons check how much they will have to pay before applying.


Persons can study and work as a student union sabbatical officer. They may be able to work – how much will depend on what they are studying and whether they are working in or out of term-time.

Person cannot claim public funds (benefits) and pensions. They are not permitted to work in certain jobs, for example, as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. They cannot be self-employed or study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school).

If the application is successful, he/she will be told what they can and cannot do on a student visa.

Good luck.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, the global president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: