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Making a Student Visa Application from Outside the UK

Tier 4 is now changed to the 'Student' route as of 9am on Monday 5 October 2020. After this date, all new applications made will be under the Student route.  This information is intended for students coming from overseas to study. If you are already in the UK and need to extend your student visa, see our Extending Your Student Visa section.

European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland Nationals 

The new Student route will take effect for applications made in the UK on or after 1 January 2021 for  EEA nationals outside the UK. They will apply under this new route,  for entry to the UK from 1 January 2021.

If you are coming to the RCA to study You will need to apply for a student visa if you want to study a full-time course of more than six months.

To apply for a student visa you will need to meet specific criteria. The Student route is part of the points based system of immigration in the UK, meaning that you have to obtain a certain number of points to be eligible for the visa. The student route requires 70 points.

You should not apply for your visa until three months prior to your course starting and until you have received your Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) from the Registry. 

The admissions team are reviewing their issuance of CAS for new students and will be updating affected students in the coming weeks on the procedure for applying for a Student Visa. They are aware that the majority of visa application centres are closed, and that normal time scales for CAS issuance will be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

We strongly advise that you do not book flights or accommodation in the UK until you have received information from us about CAS processing and have secured a Student Visa.

Please note the information below is for guidance purposes only. Students are advised to consult the Gov.UK website and Appendix ST Student prior to making any application.

What is a CAS?

A CAS is a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. It is an electronic document that is used in your Student Visa application. The document will have a number on it which you will include in your online visa application. This will allow the Home Office to match up the information in your visa application, to the information on your CAS which the RCA has created for you.

Your CAS will list key details about you and your place at the RCA, such as:

  • Your name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your passport number
  • Your programme name
  • Your start and end dates
  • The RCA's sponsor licence number
  • Your tuition fees due
  • Your tuition fees paid
  • The documents the College has seen to make an academic assessment (usually academic certificates)
  • Your English Language proficiency
It is very important that all of the details on the CAS are correct and up-to-date, and that you complete your visa application online with the exact details from your CAS. If you have any questions about your CAS, please contact the Admissions team.

Applying for a Student visa

To be ready to apply for your Student Visa, follow the steps below:

  1. You need to hold an unconditional offer to study at the RCA
  2. You must have paid all deposits due for your programme, and you must have firmly accepted your offer
  3. You will be issued a CAS for your visa application. Please note that you may only apply for a Student visa within three months of your programme’s start date shown in your CAS (this means if you are starting in September your CAS will not be issued to you until June/July at the earliest)
  4. Applications can be made online here

Required documents 

Study (50 points) 

This information will be in your CAS:

  • CAS for studies requirement 
  • Course requirement
  • Qualification requirement
  • Level of study requirement
  •  Place of study requirement

Financial Requirement (10 points)

Evidence of Finances

You will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover the first-year tuition fee and living costs for up to nine months for you and any dependents for a student visa in one of the accepted formats listed in  Appendix Finance

Maintenance to increase for Student visa applications. The Immigration Rules are due to change from 1 December 2020. From 9am on 1 December, you will need to show living expenses of £1,334 per month of your studies in the UK, up to a maximum of £12,006. This has increased from £1,265. You need to show living expenses in addition to outstanding tuition fees for the first year of your course.

You must demonstrate:

  • Living costs of £11,385 (£1,265 per month up to 9 months) 
  • Living costs of £7,605 for each dependant (£845 per month up to 9 months)

The funds must be in a bank account in your name for a minimum of 28 consecutive days. The bank statement cannot be 31 days old from the date of your student visa application.  If the evidence is in another currency other than GBP, please use the currency conversion website OANDA to make sure that the funds are at the correct level.

The funds must be readily accessible cash for example in a current (chequing) account, savings account, or certificate of deposit. You can also supply a bank letter in place of a bank statement.

We have produced a sample bank letter and statements that you may find useful.

English Requirement (10 points)

English Language requirement For English language requirements click here

Other Required documents 

There are certain documents that are required for your visa application to be successful. These documents will be needed at the point of making your visa application.

  • Passport(s)/travel document(s)
  • A CAS from the RCA (50 points) 
  • Evidence  to show you have the correct finances (tuition fees + living costs), (10 points) 
  • Evidence of qualifications (as stated in your CAS)
  • Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) (you will be required to pay this once you submit your online application).
  • Payment – £348 for an application outside of the UK
  • Evidence of English language ability (as stated in your CAS)
  • Sponsor letter (if applicable – if you are sponsored for living costs and/or tuition fees then you will need a document proving this)
  • A letter from your parent/legal guardian if they are supporting you financially, and evidence of their relationship to you
  • A Tuberculosis test if you are resident in any of the countries on the Home Office list

All documents provided should be in English. Officially certified translations are accepted where necessary.

Low Risk Nationals

EU/EEA and Swiss nationals have been added to the list of ‘low risk’ nationals. Students from these countries are not required to submit evidence to show that they meet the financial requirements or provide their academic qualifications used to obtain an offer of study. The Home Office, however, retain the right to request sight of these documents. If you are a national of one of the countries listed on  Appendix ST 22.1 of the immigration rules (differential evidence requirement).

However, the Home Office may request to see these documents at a later point, so you must ensure that you have original copies available.

Failure to provide original copies of documents when requested may result in your application being refused.

Note: You are only eligible for the differentiation agreement if you are a national of one of the listed countries applying from your home country or the UK. Exemption is not applicable if you apply from another country. 

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

As part of the student visa application, you will be required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which will entitle you to receive free health care under the National Health Service (NHS).

The new student visa route will be introduced shortly after a planned increase to the Immigration Health Surcharge for students from £300 per year to £470 per year.

 You can calculate how much you will need to pay on the Home Office website. The IHS is an integrated part of the Student Visa application and does not need to be applied for separately. 

After Submitting Your Visa Application

It is possible that the Home Office will require you to have an interview before granting you a visa to come and study in the UK. Therefore you might be sent an email asking you to attend an interview as part of the application process. This is referred to as a 'credibility interview'.

Credibility Interview Tips

  • Check your emails (including your 'junk' folder) regularly, as your application is likely to be refused if you miss this interview.
  • Interviews take place when you attend a visa application centre to give your biometric information and are normally conducted by video link with a caseworker in the UK. The caseworker will ask you about your degree, where you want to study, why you chose the RCA, and your wider reasons for studying in the UK. You may also be asked wider questions about your visa and education history, and/or financial circumstances. 
  • The Entry Clearance Officer must be satisfied that you are a genuine student, and that your English language ability is at the correct level, otherwise you might be called for a further interview and/or your entry clearance application may be refused.

What if my visa is refused?

If you have received a refusal after a student visa application, you must inform the Student Support Team and the Admissions team as soon as possible. Please send a scan of your entire refusal notice paperwork to Admissions and Student Support Office, and individuals in the teams will help you through the next steps. If you think the refusal was incorrect, based on the evidence you submitted with your application, you may be able to request an 'administrative review' of the decision to refuse it. There is no fee for this if you are submitting an administrative review overseas, but you must request the administrative review within 28 days of the date you receive your refusal notice. Please note that you cannot produce new or different documents for an administrative review. You can read Home Office guidance to administrative reviews online. We would advise you to consult the Student Support Office before lodging an administrative review where possible so that they can help advise you on the procedure and process

After your visa has been granted

How do I get my new visa and what is a BRP card? 

When you apply from outside the UK, you will be issued a 90-day entry stamp and a letter from the Home Office. The stamp will start from the date that you intend to travel to the UK, as stated on your application form (please note, you can enter the UK up to one month prior to your course of study beginning). When you enter the UK you will need to show the Immigration Official your 90-day entry stamp and the Home Office letter.

Upon entering the UK, you must collect your Biometric Resident Permit (BRP) from the Post Office selected on your student application within 10 days. If you are required to quarantine as part of the government guidelines you can collect your BRP card after quarantine.

  • A BRP is a plastic card similar in size to a credit card. It will show your visa expiry date as well as any restrictions on work and will allow you to enter and leave the UK with restrictions. 

Failure to collect the BRP within 10 days may result in a fine or your visa being cancelled.

When can I enter the UK?

You can arrive in the UK prior to your course starting. If you are on a course lasting 12 months or more, you will be allowed to enter one month prior to the official start date of the course. 

If you are studying for less than six months you will be allowed to enter one week prior to the official start date of the course.


If you have any queries about the visa application process, you should contact the Student Support Office.