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Student visa

Student visa

Most of Royal Holloway’s overseas students studying a full-time course with us will enter the UK on a Student visa.

Other types of UK visa also provide a right to study a full-time course in the UK. If you hold one of these or you are planning to apply for one, we recommend checking with the International Advice team to ensure that you will be able to enrol on your course using that form of immigration permission.

Our International Advice team are available to ensure that the process of applying for a Student visa is as smooth as possible.

We offer a range of pre-arrival support to applicants including on the how to make a successful Student visa application. This is usually delivered via a series of webinars in the months before your course begins.

However, we are also happy to answer any questions or concerns you have about getting a Student visa at any time. You can email us at internationaladvice@royalholloway.ac.uk

The below gives an overview of the application process and requirements for obtaining a Student visa.

Before you apply for a Student visa you must have been issued a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) by Royal Holloway.

A CAS is an electronic document linking your Student visa application to Royal Holloway via the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) systems. Without a valid CAS, you cannot make a Student visa application.

In order to receive your CAS, you must have

  • Accepted an unconditional offer from Royal Holloway
  • Paid any relevant deposit amount
  • Uploaded any documents or information in support of being issued a CAS via the Applicant Portal
  • Passed a pre-CAS interview

Shortly after you have completed the above requirements to be issued a CAS, our Admissions team will email you with a copy of the document.

It is your responsibility to check that all the information contained within the CAS is accurate before you submit your visa application. Please contact us immediately if you find any errors in your CAS.

If you are currently outside the UK and do not hold a valid UK visa then you will need to apply for the Student visa from the country that you live in and wait to be granted the visa before travelling to the UK. See the detailed guidance on making a Student visa application from outside the UK.

If you are currently inside the UK and hold a valid UK visa then you may be able to make an application for your Student visa to study at Royal Holloway from inside the UK. Please note that not all applicants currently in the UK will be able to apply for their new visa from within the UK. Please read the guidance on making a Student visa application inside the UK very carefully and seek help from the International Advice team if you are uncertain.

Making a Student visa application from outside the UK

The Student visa is part of the UK’s points based immigration system.

Before starting your application, you must make sure that you meet the requirements to be issued a Student visa.

The requirements are that you  

  • Have been issued a valid CAS by Royal Holloway (see above)
  • Have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course (see financial requirements below)
  • Are able to speak, read, write and understand English. (see English language requirements below)

Once you are satisfied that you meet these requirements and that you have collected all the relevant supporting documents, you will need to follow these steps to make a valid Student visa application

Step 1 – complete the online application form here

Step 2 - You will be asked to pay the relevant application fees

  • Visa application fee £490
  • An Immigration Health Surcharge of £776 per year that your visa will be granted for

Step 3 – You will be invited to provide your biometric details (picture and fingerprints) and your supporting documents (see below)

How you complete step 3 depends on your nationality and the type of passport you hold

You’ll either be:

  • invited to attend a visa application centre in person; or
  • told to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app (if you’re not told you can use the app then you must attend the application centre in person)
How long will it take for me to receive a decision on my Student visa application?

Application times can vary according to where you live and the time of year, so make sure that you apply as early as possible to avoid any delays. You must ensure that you can arrive in the UK by the start date of course (check your CAS).

If you would like to receive your decision faster then you can use the priority (decision in 5 working days) or super-priority (decision next-working day) services where they are available.

You’ll be told which documents you need to submit with your Student visa application during the online process. However, we recommend that you prepare these documents well in advance to avoid any delays.

It’s very important that you provide all the necessary documents and that those documents meet the relevant requirements. Failure to do so may lead to delays with your application or a visa refusal.

If you’re from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ and applying for your visa from that country, you do not need to provide documents that prove you meet the financial or academic requirements including English language when you submit your Student visa application. However, the UKVI reserve the right to request these documents at any point during the application process and therefore we strongly advise that you prepare them anyway in case you are asked for them later.

Documents that all students must prepare

A valid passport

Ideally it should be valid for the duration of your studies in the UK but we would recommend that it have at least 6 months validity.

Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself

Failure to provide the correct financial documentation is the most common reason for Student visa refusals. See our detailed section below to make sure you provide the correct evidence.

If you are from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ you will not need to provide this document with your application.

Evidence that you meet the English language requirement

Royal Holloway will have assessed how you meet the English language requirement before issuing you with a CAS. You can find the information on your CAS under the heading ‘qualification data’, you must provide any documents listed in this part of your CAS with your Student visa application.

If you are from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ you will not need to provide this document with your application.

Evidence of how you obtained your offer from Royal Holloway

You can find the information on your CAS under the heading ‘qualification data’, you must provide any documents listed in this part of your CAS with your Student visa application. For example, school certificates/grades or previous degree qualifications.

If you are from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ you will not need to provide this document with your application.

 

Documents that some students must prepare

A valid Tuberculosis (TB) certificate

If you have been living in one of the countries on the list here during the last 6 months or more, then you must attend an appointment to check that you do not have TB and provide a valid certificate to prove this with your visa application. The certificate must have been issued by a UKVI authorised clinic.

A valid ATAS certificate

Applicants for certain post-graduate research courses (PhDs) where the research in question centres around some STEM subjects will need to provide a valid ATAS certificate with their Student visa application.

Royal Holloway will inform you whether you need ATAS clearance for your research topic. We will not issue you a CAS until you have been granted the clearance.

Consent from your parents if you are under 18-years-old

If you are under 18 years of age at the time you make your Student visa application then you must provide a letter from your parents/legal guardians giving you consent to travel to, live and study in the UK. You must also provide evidence of your relationship to your parents/legal guardians, for example, a birth certificate or adoption papers.

Translations into English

If any of the documents that you provide with your application are not in English then you will need to submit a translation of that document into English as well as the original document itself.

The translation must include details of the translator’s credentials, their contact details, date of translation and their signature.

Breaks in study

If you have had a break in your study for over a year then we strongly recommend that you write a supporting letter and include this with your visa application. The supporting letter should mention

  • What you have been doing during the break?
  • Why you are choosing to return to study now?
  • How returning to study will benefit your future career goals?

You may also be asked about any breaks in study during a credibility interview (see below)

Failure to provide the correct financial documentation is the most common reason for Student visa refusals.

Read the below guidance carefully and if you are unsure whether your documents meet the requirements then please get in contact internationaladvice@royalholloway.ac.uk before you make your visa application. We are happy to check your documents before you make your application.

 

How much money do I need to show I have?

All students are expected to show that they have paid or have evidence of money to pay their first year’s tuition fees.

Your first year tuition fees as well as any money you have already paid towards those fees will be shown on your CAS.

Students also need to show that they have enough money to cover their living costs (maintenance)  while in the UK. The UKVI considers Royal Holloway to be situated in London, and therefore, if you are coming to study a full-time undergraduate or postgraduate course you will need to show funds of £12,006 for living costs.

The formula for calculating the funds you need to show you have available when applying for the Student visa is

First year tuition fees (see CAS)

-Tuition fees already paid (see CAS)

+£12,006

= Total funds you must show

 

Students must sign a declaration on the visa application form that states that the money shown at the time of the visa application is available to them for living and studying in the UK and should not be used for anything else.

If the funds that you are using in support of your Student visa application are in a currency other than Great British Pounds (GBP £) then you must check the conversion rate via the website here to ensure that you hold enough money to be granted the visa (this is the figure that the UKVI will use when assessing your Student visa application). The UKVI will use the conversion rate on the date that you submit your application.

 

Using your own funds or your parents’ funds as evidence

If you are using your own funds or funds held in your parents’ name then you will need to submit bank statements or similar documents (certificates of deposits or a letter from the bank) to prove this.

Please note that funds must be held in either your name or in at least one of your parents’ names. You cannot use accounts in the names of other family members or friends in support of your Student visa application.

The account can be a joint account as long as your name appears as one of the account holders on the documents provided.

If you are using funds held in your parent’s name(s) then you must also provide

  • A letter from your parent(s) confirming that they will be supporting you financially throughout your time in the UK and that they give permission for you to use their funds in support of your Student visa application
  • A copy of your birth certificate (or similar) showing your relationship to the account holder(s)

You will need to make sure that the bank that the funds are held in meets the requirements of a financial institution as defined by the UKVI (FIN 2.1) and that the funds themselves are held in an appropriate account (FIN 8.1).

The document that you provide must show the following information

  • The account holder’s name(s)
  • The account number
  • The name and logo of the bank the funds are held in
  • The date that the document was produced
  • That the funds are in cash and accessible 

The document must show that the total funds (see above for guidance on how much money you need) have been held for at least 28 consecutive days.

In most cases this will be calculated by counting back from the date of the closing balance on the most recently dated piece of financial evidence.

If you are using a letter from your bank they will need to explicitly write that the funds have been held for at least 28 consecutive days.

The document(s) that you use in support of your application must be dated within 31 days before the date of application.

 

Using a student loan as evidence of funds

Student loans can be used to meet the financial requirements of the Student visa if the loan is provided by

  • Your government or a government sponsored student loan company
  • An academic or educational loans scheme which is regulated by your government for the purpose of issuing student loans

If you are ensure whether any loan meets these requirements then please contact us.

Please note that other loans or forms of credit cannot be used in support of your Student visa application.

You will need to submit a document confirming the details of your student loan which

  • is dated no more than 6 months before the date of application
  • confirms who the loan is to be paid to (it must be to you the applicant)
  • confirms who is issuing the student loan and that they are a eligible provider (see above for eligible loan providers)
  • confirms there are no conditions on release of the loan funds
  • confirms the amount of the loan
  • is on official stationery 

 

The amount of the loan must meet the requirements detailed above (How much money do I need to show I have?). If the total of the loan does not meet this amount then you can use evidence of funds held in your or your parents’ names to meet the deficit (see above).

The loan agreement must also confirm that the funds will be

  • available to you before you travel to the UK; or
  • paid directly to Royal Holloway before you travel to the UK, with any living cost portion of the loan being made available when you arrive in the UK; or
  • if the loan is provided by your national government funds must be available before you begin your course.

Students with official financial sponsorship

The UKVI consider official financial sponsors to be

  • a national government
  • an international organisation (for example the British Council)
  • an international company
  • a university

If you are receiving funds from one of these organisations then you must provide a letter from the sponsor that contains

  • information about you (name, course title, university studying at)
  • information about the sponsor including contact details
  • information about the funds available to you (how much and for how long the sponsorship will last)

If you are receiving financial sponsorship from Royal Holloway then we will indicate this on your CAS and you will not need a letter from the University.

The amount your are receiving from your official financial sponsor must meet the requirements detailed above (How much money do I need to show I have?). If the total of the loan does not meet this amount then you must use alternative evidence of funds to meet the deficit (see above).

Credibility interviews are designed to make sure that only genuine students are studying in the UK.

Not everyone who applies for a Student Visa will need to do a credibility interview.

If you do need to do a credibility interview you will be invited to do so by the UKVI either at the time you make your visa application or shortly afterwards.

The interview can last up to 30 minutes and it will be conducted via a video link with a member of the UKVI based in the UK. The report and transcript of the interview will then be sent to a caseworker who will consider it alongside your visa application and other supporting evidence.

The interview will be conducted in English and therefore your ability to communicate in English will be taken into consideration.

There are no set questions that you will be asked, however from previous experience and inline with the purpose of the interview the below are common themes during credibility interviews.

Why do you want to study at Royal Holloway and/or in the UK?

Think about why you chose the UK rather than your home country, another English-speaking country or a country which other students of your nationality choose to study in.

What does Royal Holloway offer that other Universities don’t?

Which other Universities did you consider before deciding on Royal Holloway?

The UKVI will expect a genuine student to have thoroughly researched Royal Holloway and other universities in the UK before applying.

Why did you choose this course to study?

There may be many courses in the same subject area as the one you plan to study.

What is it specifically about this course which you prefer and which suits you over other course choices?

Think about your decision process. Did you apply for other courses - why did you choose to study this course at Royal Holloway rather than somewhere else?

The UKVI would expect a genuine student to have thoroughly researched their course and other competing courses.

You may also be asked practical questions about your course such as, when will it start? How many hours of a week will you be studying?, etc.

The UKVI will expect a genuine student to know the answer to these questions.

You may also be asked questions related to current events and your course.

The UKVI would expect a genuine student to be able to talk about their chosen subject area and any major news stories related to it.

What are your plans for the future?

Think about what your plans are after you graduate.

How will the knowledge and skills you gain from your course help you with the type of work you hope to do?

Does your course lead to any professional qualifications and are these recognised in your country?

Do you know what others graduating from the course went on to do, for example, the types of roles and organisations they work for?

What kind of salary can you expect to achieve from the job that you hope to get after graduation?

The UKVI would expect that a genuine student would have defined career goals and a good understanding of the industry that they are hoping to work in.

Why are you returning to study after a long break?

If you have been out of full-time education for a period of time think about why you are returning now in the context of the questions above, for example, is it because further qualifications are necessary for you to achieve your career goals?

The UKVI would expect a genuine student to have a very clear rationale as to why they are returning to study.

How will you fund your studies in the UK?

The purpose of this question is to check that your funds are genuinely available to you for your studies.

As part of your application you might have submitted proof of your finances (see above)- ensure that you are very clear about the source and availability of these funds and how you plan to pay for subsequent years' fees if your course is more than a year in duration.

If you are receiving official financial sponsorship make sure you are aware of the amounts and exactly what is covered.

If you have a loan, how will you afford to pay this back?

How much will your accommodation cost and are you clear about the cost of living in the UK?

The average cost of study in the UK for an international student is in the region of £30,000 - £35,000 a year. The UKVI would expect that a genuine student will be able to afford this and will be able to give a clear answer to where they have sourced the money from.

Remember that you must not travel to the UK until you receive your Student visa.

How you receive a decision on your visa application and the next steps to take will depend on how you applied.

I applied in-person at a Visa Application Centre

You will receive notification that a decision on your visa application has been made and you will be

  • asked to go to the visa application centre to collect your passport, or
  • informed that your passport is being posted back to you

Once you have your passport, check the entry clearance vignette inside it carefully. If you notice any errors, then please contact us immediately for advice.

Your entry clearance vignette will be valid for 30 days (sometimes 90 days). You must travel to the UK within that period. Please note that you must also arrive in the UK and enrol on your course by the latest arrival date listed on your CAS.

When you arrive in the UK you will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Your BRP will show the full duration of your visa.

You will have chosen the location to collect your BRP when you submitted your visa application and it will be written on the decision letter that you received.

It will either be

  • From Royal Holloway’s Alternative Collection Location (ACL) at our Egham campus; or
  • From a local Post Office

You will need your BRP before you are able to complete enrolment

 

I applied via the UK Immigration: ID check app

If you applied via the app, then you will receive an email notifying you of the outcome of your visa application.

Your immigration permission will be digital. You won’t receive a document or stamp in your passport.

You can travel to the UK using your passport.

If you do need to prove your immigration status, for example at enrolment, then you can do so online using the link here

My visa application was refused

If your visa application is refused, then you must contact internationaladvice@royalholloway.ac.uk immediately.

Please include the notification letter that you received from the UKVI detailing why your application was refused.

Please do not attempt to make a new Student visa application without first receiving a new CAS.

You may be given the option to submit an Administrative Review against the decision to refuse your visa. We recommend that students seek support from the International Advice Team before submitting an Administrative Review.

Making a Student visa application from inside the UK

To apply to extend your current Student visa or switch from a different type of UK visa to the Student visa you must meet all of the requirements below

  • You must hold a valid Student visa or another type of visa that allows you to ‘switch’ to the Student visa. You can find a full list of visas that do not allow you to ‘switch’ to the Student visa inside the UK here. This includes the Visitor visa. If you enter the UK as a Visitor you cannot apply for a Student visa from inside the UK

 

  • The start date of your course (as noted on your CAS) must be no later than 28 days after the expiry of your current visa. This year, full-time taught courses at Royal Holloway will commence on 18 September 2023. Therefore your current visa must be valid until at least 22 August 2023 for you to make your Student visa application inside the UK

 

  • You must be able to submit your application (see details of requirements below) for a new Student visa before your current visa expires

 

  • You must meet the academic progression requirements as detailed within the UK’s immigration rules (we will confirm if you meet this requirement on your CAS)

If you do not meet all of the above requirements then you must submit your Student visa application from outside the UK (see guidance above).

If you are unsure whether you meet all these requirements then please contact internationaladvice@royalholloway.ac.uk before you make your visa application.

 

Application Process

Before starting your application, you must make sure that you meet the requirements to be issued a Student visa.

The requirements are that you  

  • Have been issued a valid CAS by Royal Holloway (see above)
  • Have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course or qualify for one of the exemptions (see financial requirements below)
  • Are able to speak, read, write and understand English. (see English language requirements below)

Once you are satisfied that you meet these requirements, you will need to follow these steps to make a valid Student visa application

Step 1 – complete the online application form here

We have created a step by step guide on how to complete the application form and use the app to prove your identity.

Most students will be invited to use the UK immigration ID check app in order to prove their identity and provide a photograph and biometric details.

If you are unable to do use the UK immigration ID check app then you will be asked to book an appointment at visa application centre after you have completed the application form and step 2.

Step 2 - You will be asked to pay the relevant application fees

  • Visa application fee £490
  • An Immigration Health Surcharge of £776 per year that your visa will be granted for

 

How long will it take for me to receive a decision on my Student visa application and will I be able to study while I wait?

Application times can vary according to the time of year so make sure that you apply as early as possible to avoid any delays.

If you would like to receive your decision faster then you can use the priority (decision in 5 working days) or super-priority (decision next-working day) services where they are available.

It’s very important that you do not leave the UK while your visa application is being processed. If you do leave the UK before you receive a decision, you will automatically withdraw your application, lose your application fee and need to start the process again.

While you wait for a decision on your Student visa, you will be able to remain in the UK under the conditions of your current visa. This is true even if your current visa expires while you are waiting for a decision on your Student visa.

In most cases this means that you will be able to  complete enrolment on your course and study but the University will check that at the point you enrol.

Please note that if you are switching from the Graduate visa to the Student visa that you must have been granted the Student visa before the University can allow you to study. This is because the Graduate visa does not provide you the right to study a full-time course.

You’ll be told which documents you need to submit with your Student visa application during the online process. However, we recommend that you prepare these documents well in advance to avoid any delays.

It’s very important that you provide all the necessary documents and that those documents meet the relevant requirements. Failure to do so may lead to delays with your application or a visa refusal.

If you’re from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ and applying for your visa from that country, you do not need to provide documents that prove you meet the financial or academic requirements including English language when you submit your Student visa application. However, the UKVI reserve the right to request these documents at any point during the application process and therefore we strongly advise that you prepare them anyway in case you are asked for them later.

 

Documents that all students must prepare

A valid passport

Ideally it should be valid for the duration of your studies in the UK but we would recommend that it have at least 6 months validity. .

Evidence of how you obtained your offer from Royal Holloway

You can find the information on your CAS under the heading ‘qualification data’, you must provide any documents listed in this part of your CAS with your Student visa application. For example, school certificates/grades or previous degree qualifications.

If you are from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ you will not need to provide these documents with your application.

 

Documents that some students must prepare

Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself

If you have been living in the UK for the past 12 months (or more) then you will automatically meet the financial requirements to be issued a Student visa and therefore you not be required to submit any further evidence with your application.

If you are from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ you will not need to provide this document with your application.

If you have not been living in the UK for the past 12 months or you don’t come from a country that benefits for the differential evidence requirement then you must submit financial evidence with your application that meets the requirements of the UK’s immigration rules.

You can find detailed advice on how to prove you hold sufficient funds above under the heading ‘Financial evidence in support of your Student visa’.

Please note that failure to provide the correct evidence of finances (where required) is the most common reason for Student visa refusals. If you are unsure whether you need to submit any evidence and if so what evidence is required, please contact us via internationaladvice@royalholloway.ac.uk

Evidence that you meet the English language requirement

If you are applying in the UK to extend a current Student visa or switch from a different type of visa that required you to already have proved your English language then you will not have to provide evidence with your application again.

Royal Holloway will have assessed how you meet the English language requirement before issuing you with a CAS. You can find the information on your CAS under the heading ‘qualification data’, you must provide any documents listed in this part of your CAS with your Student visa application.

If you are from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ you will not need to provide this document with your application.

A valid ATAS certificate

Applicants for certain post-graduate research courses (PhDs) where the research in question centres around some STEM subjects will need to provide a valid ATAS certificate with their Student visa application.

Royal Holloway will inform you whether you need ATAS clearance for your research topic. We will not issue you a CAS until you have been granted the clearance.

Consent from your parents if you are under 18-years-old

If you are under 18 years of age at the time you make your Student visa application then you must provide a letter from your parents/legal guardians giving you consent to continue t, live and study in the UK. You must also provide evidence of your relationship to your parents/legal guardians, for example, a birth certificate or adoption papers.

Translations into English

If any of the documents that you provide with your application are not in English then you will need to submit a translation of that document into English as well as the original document itself.

The translation must include details of the translator’s credentials, their contact details, date of translation and their signature.

You will receive an email informing you that a decision has been made on your visa application.

Most students will receive a new BRP card that will be delivered directly to the address that you indicated on your application form.

If you are an EU/EEA national and applied using the UK immigration ID check app, then you will receive further digital immigration permission.

 

My visa application was refused

If your visa application is refused, then you must contact internationaladvice@royalholloway.ac.uk immediately.

Please include the notification letter that you received from the UKVI detailing why your application was refused.

Please do not attempt to make a new Student visa application without first receiving a new CAS.

You may be given the option to submit an Administrative Review against the decision to refuse your visa. We recommend that students seek support from the International Advice Team before submitting an Administrative Review.

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