Under the new points-based system adopted by UK immigration, the Tier 4 [General] student visa has been replaced by the UK Student visa

An individual can apply for a Student visa for study overseas in the UK, provided they are 16 or above in age and fulfil certain other requirements as well. 

However, before they can proceed to applying for the student visa for the UK, they must have with them “an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed student sponsor”. 

As published by the UK Home Office on April 1, 2021, the official Register of Student Sponsors had a total of 1,120 sponsors licensed under the Student route. 

On an international student being offered a place on a higher education course in the UK, their education provider will be providing them with a reference number for the same. This is the “Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies” number for that individual. 
This reference number will have to be mentioned on their UK Student visa application. The student will be required to apply for their UK Student visa within 6 months of receiving their CAS. 

Now, there are different courses that an overseas student can pursue while in the UK on a Student visa. They can attend either a full-time course of study in the UK that is below, at par, or even above the degree level. 

They can also take up certain part-time courses. 

Similarly, they might opt to pursue a recognized foundation programme for post-graduate dentists or doctors. They might also take up an English language course in the UK at Level B2 or above as per the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. 

Those that are either 16 or 17 years in age and intend studying at any of the independent schools in the UK, might be eligible for a Child Student visa instead. 

The UK Student visa can be applied for both from within the country as well as from off-shore. 

The earliest that international students applying from overseas can apply for the visa is 6 months prior to the commencement of their course. Those applying from within the UK, on the other hand, can apply 3 months before their course start date. 

While a decision can be expected within 3 weeks when applying from outside the UK, a decision on a UK Student visa application for anyone applying from within the UK can take up to 8 weeks.  

Basic Step-wise process for applying for a UK Student visa

STEP 1: Check whether the visa is for you. 
Review what you can and cannot do while in the UK on a Student visa. 

STEP 2: Get the documentation together. 
See which documents can be used by you as evidence. 

STEP 3: Apply. 
An online application will have to be submitted. 

STEP 4: Check what all you can bring into the UK with you, if applying from overseas. 

STEP 5: Check what is to be shown at the UK border.
As of now, you will be required to show your passport, proof of a negative COVID-19 test, and a passenger locator form. You will be required to wear a face coving at the airport, while following social distancing rules. 

STEP 6: After arrival in the UK. 
If you had applied from overseas, you will have to personally collect your Biometric Residence Permit [BRP] once you are in the UK. 

How long can an international student stay in the UK on a Student visa will be as per the length of their study course as well as the study already completed by them.
Generally, those 18 or above in age and in the UK to pursue a degree level course can stay in the UK for up to 5 years. 

If, however, they are in the UK for pursuing a course that is below the degree level, they can stay in the UK for up to 2 years. 

If needed, the Student visa for the UK might also be extended, provided the individual is eligible for the same. 

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