Student visa to study in the UK

January has recently become a really popular time to study in the UK. This is because there is a lot of demand for places for the autumn semester. International students need a student visa to study in the UK in January.

if you have set your sights on studying in the UK in January, then you must apply early to get that place. Here is a quick breakdown of relevant deadlines and details to get that student visa to study in UK.

Applying to study in the UK

UK universities welcome applications from international students throughout the year. Remember that applicants have to complete all the steps in time for the start of the Autumn or Spring semester (usually mid-June for Autumn or early-December for Spring).

If you have already completed an undergraduate degree in the UK then you will know about the process through the UCAS system. However, almost all UK universities manage their own postgraduate course admissions, so you have to apply direct to your chosen university.

How to apply for a postgraduate course

Once you have decided on your course you will then complete an online application. Universities ask for a number of different documents, but generally these include:-

  • A personal statement - this is usually part of the online application. Typically you will write a few paragraphs to explain why you are applying for the programme.
  • An academic reference – normally from your most recent teaching professor or academic supervisor.
  • Copies of your previous qualifications from your undergraduate degree or equivalent.
  • Proof that your level of written and spoken English is of the right standard to study for a UK university qualification. This usually takes the form of an IELTS test.
  • A photocopy of your Passport/Identity card.

If you are accepted onto the course, the university will make you a Conditional or Unconditional offer and issue you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number. The University of Sheffield has a really useful FAQ guide.

Issuing a student visa to study in UK

Once you have been accepted by your chosen university, it will apply to the UK Government for a student visa on your behalf. The UKVI will issue the CAS to the university, and this will be supplied to you.

It takes around three weeks for a CAS to be issued. This means that it’s really important you apply to the university as soon as you have made your mind up about a place of study.

Typical deadlines for international students wanting to start a masters in January

A number of UK universities list their deadlines online. Here is a short selection of the current dates for final applications.

Recent changes to Dependent visas

The UK Government recently changed the rules for partners or children (‘dependents’) of applicants seeking to stay temporarily in the UK. From January 2024, the only international students that may apply to bring their partners or children with them while they study a postgraduate degree are PhD students. This change will affect a number of postgraduate students.

Other types of student visa to study in UK

The UK Government awards a number of visas to candidates that have strong academic skills and who wish to make a contribution to the UK. There are also pathways for settling in the UK as a permanent resident.

A Graduate Visa lasts for 2 years. If you have a PhD or other doctoral qualification, it will last for 3 years.

A High Potential Individual (HPI) Visa gives you permission to stay in the UK for at least 2 years. To apply, you must have been awarded a qualification by an eligible university in the last 5 years.

A Skilled Worker visa allows you to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. After 5 years, you may be able to apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’). This gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible.

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