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Making a Student visa application

IMPORTANT NEWS: On 5 October 2020, a new 'Student Immigration Route' was introduced in the UK. This has replaced the Tier 4 (General) visa category and will apply to EU/EEA Nationals wishing to enter the UK from 1 January 2021. 

Information for EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals

On 1 January 2021, there will be a significant change to the UK Immigration Rules. Nationals of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will subsequently become subject to UK immigration control – meaning that immigration permission to enter or remain in the UK needs to be applied for (dependant on certain factors). 

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national and are already in the UK, please do not be alarmed as there is still plenty of time to do this (if necessary) and there will be various deadlines to this.

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their eligible family members can remain in the UK (without requiring immigration permission) until 31 December 2020, and apply to settle in the UK under the government’s EU Settlement Scheme. Anybody who wishes to remain in the UK beyond 31 December 2020 will need to do this (or apply to remain under another immigration category). However, this does not necessarily have to be done immediately – the deadline is 30 June 2021.

You may have already applied for and obtained EU Settled Status, in which case no further action is necessary. However, if you are resident in the UK and have not yet applied under the EU Settlement Scheme, we would advise you to consider applying as soon as possible, and before the deadline in June 2021. 

 If you have not yet obtained EU Settled Status and are outside of the UK, you please need to be aware that from 1 January 2021 you would require a visa to enter the UK.  If you are not intending to enter the UK before this date, you will have to apply for a Student visa to study at Brunel as explained below. If you need a Student visa to enter the UK for your course, then we will sponsor this and provide you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

 Alternatively, it may be advisable for you to consider entering the UK by 31 December 2020 and then applying for the EU Settlement Scheme as outlined above. 

Applying inside the UK

You can make a Student visa application inside the UK (known as permission to stay) if you currently have valid immigration permission in most categories. However, please note that you will not be able to make a valid application if your current visa is in one of the categories below: 

1. Visitor

2. Short-term Student

3. Parent of a Child Student

4. Seasonal Worker

5. Domestic Worker in a Private Household

6. Leave to remain outside the Immigration Rules.

You can apply for your visa online using the UKVI website. You can apply up to three months before the start date of your course. 

Please visit the UKVI website for details of how to apply. You will submit your application online and may then be directed to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) Centre or at an enhanced service centre (at additional cost). At the appointment, you will be required to submit your biometric details (fingerprints and a facial photograph). However, if you have made an immigration application in the UK before, you may not need to attend an appointment if you can re-enrol your biometric details using the UKVCAS App. Details will be provided once you submit your online application. 

If necessary, you also have the option to scan your documents as part of your application, although this can also be done prior to your appointment through the online form. 

Please be aware that during the busiest months of August and September in particular, it may be very difficult to book appointments within a short time, particularly in London. It is very important that you allow enough time to apply for your visa to enable you to register for your course in time. Please visit our website for further details of what you need to do in order to register. 

Important: Although your passport will be returned to you after your appointment, you should not travel outside the UK until you receive a decision on your application. If you do so, your application may become invalid and you should withdraw the application if you need to leave the UK.  

You must submit your Student visa application before your current visa expires. If your visa expires more than 28 days before the start date of any new course, you must return to your home country and apply from there.

Please also note that, under current immigration rules, you can only apply to extend your Student visa inside the UK if you meet the UKVI's 'academic progression' requirements. For example, if you have not successfully completed the course for which your current visa was issued, you may have to apply outside of the UK. Please bear this in mind if you have needed to change courses during your time studying in the UK and need to extend your Student visa. 

Applying outside the UK

If you are applying from outside the UK, the UKVI website has information of where and how to apply, and the cost of the application. The application form can also be found at the UKVI website. When you apply you should also be sure to take the relevant documentation to your visa appointment. If you need help with your visa application, British Council offices and the British High Commission can provide assistance. You cannot apply for your visa more than six months months before the start of your course.

Visa application fees

Please visit the UKVI website for details of how much a visa application will cost.

In addition to the application fees, you will also need to pay the Immigration Health surcharge as part of your immigration application (see section below). 

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

If you have made your Student visa application from outside of the UK to enter for more than six months, you will be given a temporary entry clearance visa (known as a vignette), which will be placed in your passport. This visa is usually valid for 30 days, although in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, UKVI may issue them with a 90 day validity period. It is important that you do not travel and try to enter the UK earlier than the start date of this vignette. This will invalidate your student permission. 

Within 10 days of arriving in the UK, you will then need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)*. This is a plastic card that acts as the visa for the length of your course. UKVI will inform you if you need to collect a BRP in the UK. You will need to present this to Brunel University London in order to register, as you will not be allowed to do this using just the temporary entry clearance visa. Note that EU/EEA nationals may not receive a BRP and will instead have a 'digital visa.'

 Please note that you will not need to collect a BRP if you are coming to the UK for less than six months, for example to undertake a short Pre-sessional English course. The visa placed in your passport will cover your period of study in the UK.

*Please note that if you have to follow a requirement to self-isolate for 14 days after entering the UK due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you should only go to collect your BRP ater you have done this. This is permitted. 

Where can I collect my BRP?

 If you are required to collect a BRP after arriving in the UK, there will be two possible places where you can collect it. This will depend on the option you select when you complete your Student visa application form. The form will ask you to a question about where you would like to collect your BRP:

1. Collect your BRP at a Post Office: The form will ask you to input the UK postcode of the address you will be living at when you come to the UK. If your Student visa application is successful, you will then be given instructions of which Post Office you need to go to in order to collect your BRP. This will be a Post Office close to where you will be living as you have indicated. Please note that it will be your responsibility to ensure that you collect your BRP within 10 days of arriving in the UK. You will need to collect it before you can register for your course (unless you need to self-isolate - see above).

If you choose this option, please be aware that there may be significant waiting times at the Post Office during busy times of the year.

2. Collect your BRP at Brunel University London: If you wish, UKVI will send your BRP to Brunel University London for you to collect here. In order to do this, when completing your Student visa application form you will need to enter our Alternative Collection Code (ACL), which we will give you on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) email. You will then need to collect your BRP from the Student Centre within 10 days of arriving in the UK (unless you need to self-isolate - see above). You will need to bring your passport and the letter that UKVI will give you to confirm your BRP collection.

We would recommend that you select this option, particularly if you intend to stay in our on-campus accommodation or live near to the University. This will enable you to collect your BRP here before you go to register.

Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

As part of your visa application, you will need to achieve 70 points to be successful. 50 points are awarded for having a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number. The remaining 20 points are awarded for Finance (10) and English Language (10).

Brunel University London can only send you a CAS once your offer has been made unconditional. If you have a conditional offer, you will need to meet the conditions of your offer first. Please visit the Admissions Office website for further details about the application process. Please note that we will not issue you with a CAS if there will not be enough time for you to apply for your visa, so you must meet the conditions of your offer as soon as you possibly can.

The Admissions Office will send your CAS details to you by email. You do not need a hard copy of the CAS statement (such as a letter) because the CAS details are also electronically sent to UKVI. They will be able to see your CAS when your visa application is assessed.

The CAS email will include the course details you need to include in your visa application such as the course dates, academic course level and all the qualifications we used as the basis of your offer. You may not need to submit the qualification certificates/transcripts listed on the CAS when you apply for your visa, but you should keep them safe. They may be requested by UKVI and Brunel University London will also review them when you register.  

Please check your CAS carefully when you receive it, and inform us if there is an error of any kind. In most cases, we should be able to electronically correct your CAS. We can do this by adding a 'sponsor note' to correct any of the CAS details, or we can update the stated tuition fees. We will not need to issue you with a new CAS - we will confirm we have corrected the electronic document. 

The first CAS we send you is free of charge. However, if you need us to issue you with a different CAS (for example if you decide to change courses after your CAS has been issued) then there will be an administration fee of £21. This covers the cost charged to us by UKVI. Please note that if your visa application is refused, you will also need a new CAS if you wish to make a new application.

 A CAS number will expire if not used within six months, so we will not issue a CAS more than six months before the start of your course. A CAS can only be used in a visa application up to six months before the course start date (for applications outside of the UK).


Financial Requirements

As part of your visa application, you will need to achieve 70 points to be successful. 10 points are awarded for Finance. The remaining 60 points are awarded for having a valid CAS and meeting the English language requirement.

The Finance requirement is a very important part of the visa application. You should check your financial documents very carefully before applying, as the visa application will be refused if these are not met. For full details of the requirements, please refer to the Student Visa Guidance. You should also refer to the 'Financial Requirement' section of Student Immigration Rules (Appendix ST). 

The finance requirement is to evidence that you have enough money to support yourself while you are studying in the UK. You need to demonstrate that you have funds available to cover the remaining tuition fees for the first academic year of your course, as well as an additional amount to cover your living costs. 

Brunel University London is classified as being in London for visa purposes, so the level of funding you need to show is slightly higher than someone who is studying outside of London. For courses that are less than nine months long you must show that you have £1,334 per month for each month of your course. If your course includes part of a month, you must always include that month in the calculation. 

For courses that are nine months or over, you must show that you have £12,006. Please note that this is in addition to your remaining tuition fees. Any money that you have already paid to the University towards your tuition fees will be listed on your CAS. This amount of money can be deducted from the total amount that you need to show. Any money that you have already paid towards on-campus accommodation will also be listed on the CAS. This can also be deducted from the total amount but only up to a maximum of £1,334.

Finance requirements if applying in the UK? 

If you are applying for your Student visa in the UK, and have had permission to stay for at least one year on the date of application, you will not be asked to provide these financial documents in your application. However, you should still maintain your finances according to the financial requirements, as UKVI reserve the right to request them. 

Low Risk Applicants

Some students do not need to evidence their finances in a visa application depending on their nationality. This is known as 'differentiation arrangements' for 'low-risk applicants'. It includes nationals of the EU, EEA and many other countries such as the USA, Canada, China, Brazil, Thailand and the UAE. Please refer to paragraph 22 of Appendix ST of the Immigration Rules to check if you are subject to the differentiation arrangements. However, you should again still maintain your finances according to the financial requirements, as UKVI reserve the right to request them.

 

Student Visa Time Limits

UKVI have set limits on the amount of time a student can study in the UK with a Student visa. This also includes studying under the previous Tier 4 (General) visa system. This information is available in the Student Visa Policy Guidance. 

For undergraduate study, this limit is typically five years. But in certain circumstances the five-year cap can be extended.

Some courses are also exempt from the five-year limit, including medicine degrees, postgraduate degrees and PhD programmes (although an eight-year limit will be applied if you have completed a PhD or another research qualification listed in the Student Policy Guidance).  

A Student visa application will be refused if the time limit is exceeded. Therefore, as part of your application, Brunel University will assess this. Regretfully, if you would exceed the cap, we would not be able to sponsor your visa and would not issue you with a CAS. 

You should also always check that you will not exceed the time limit yourself before making the visa application. 

Credibility Interviews

Will I have to attend a credibility interview as part of my Student visa application?
 

You may be selected to attend an interview as part of your visa application, either inside or outside of the UK. The interview is designed to ensure that you have a genuine intention to study in the UK and that your English language ability is suitable for you to do this. It is likely that you will be interviewed if you are making the application overseas. You may also be interviewed if submitting a visa application (permission to stay) in the UK, although this is less likely than if you apply overseas. If you are invited to an interview in the UK, this may be because the caseworker requires further information about your education history and desire to study your chosen course in order to make a decision on your application. You may be selected for an interview in the UK particularly if your previous level of UK study is the same as your new course.

What will my interview involve?

If overseas, you will be interviewed at the Visa Application Centre via a video-link to a UKVI officer based in the UK. If you are in the UK, the interview will also be conducted via a video-link at a UKVI centre. These are located in many cities across the UK. Your interview should take place at the nearest location to where you live but this cannot always be guaranteed. The interview will typically last around 30 minutes. 

Do not be alarmed if you are selected for an interview. This is part of the standard visa application process. You must ensure that you attend the interview as it is compulsory unless you have a valid reason why you cannot attend. If you need to rearrange the interview then instructions will be provided in the invite letter from UKVI. Your visa application will automatically be refused if you do not attend without good cause.

What type of questions will I be asked?

If you are asked to attend an interview, make sure that you answer the questions clearly and honestly. The questions will cover the following areas:

1. Your intentions to study: You must be able to answer questions about the course you wish to study in the UK and explain how and why you made the decision to study this course at Brunel University London. Therefore, before you attend the interview, you should think about why you specifically chose to study at Brunel instead of in your home country or at another UK institution. What does Brunel University and our course offer that other institutions did not? You may wish to refer to our website for information about the campus. It is likely that you will be asked specific questions about the content and structure of your chosen course so you may wish to prepare for this by reviewing your relevant course page on our website.   

2. Your education history: You may be asked about what you have studied in the past and how this relates to your chosen course at Brunel. If you have previously studied in the UK, you may be asked to explain why you wish to return to the UK and how the combination of these courses support your future plans. If there have been any gaps between your periods of study, you will need to explain these carefully.

3. Your career plans after you have finished studying: You need to carefully think about what you intend to do after you have finished your course and how this supports your career plans. How can the knowledge gained on the course be applied to your intended profession? You may be asked about how much you would expect to earn in your chosen career and how the cost of studying in the UK justifies the financial commitment you will be making in coming to study in the UK. 

4. Your financial circumstances: The financial cost of studying in the UK is considerable, so you are likely to be asked why you have made this decision when the cost of studying in your home country or other countries may be a lot less. Your financial details may be discussed at the interview to check that you have access to enough money to support you while you study, including tuition and accommodation fees and living costs. Although you would have supplied financial documents in your visa application to demonstrate you have the funds required for the first year of your course (see the section on maintenance requirements above), you may need to explain how any subsequent years of the course will be covered. You will need to be prepared to answer some quite personal questions, such as how much you or your parent/s earn (if they are funding your studies) and the source and availability of your funds. If you are being financially sponsored by your government or an international company, or are receiving an education loan, you will need to be able to provide details of this. 

The interview will also be checking your ability to speak in English. You must be able to communicate in basic English, regardless of any qualifications you may hold. You will not be allowed to use an interpreter. 

So please remember, if you are selected for an interview, please note the following points:

  • Do not be alarmed - it is a normal part of the visa process.
  • Be prepared to answer questions as outlined above and use information we have provided to help you. 
  • Please inform your interviewer if you experience any problems during the interview, for example, if you cannot hear them clearly on the video.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

 If you are not a national of the EU/EEA/Switzerland and subject to temporary immigration permission in the UK, and you will be studying a postgraduate taught or research course, you may be required to apply for an ATAS certificate. It will depend on the subject area of your course. Each course subject is given a unique HECoS (Higher Education Classification of Subjects) code. Courses linked to some of these HECoS codes will need an ATAS certificate, most commonly in the fields of Engineering, Biological Sciences and Computer Sciences. The Admissions Office will inform you in your offer email whether or not you need to obtain an ATAS certificate. This will be a condition of your offer.

Please note that the following nationalities will also be exempt from the ATAS requirement: United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Canada. 

If required, you must obtain the ATAS certificate before you can be issued with an unconditional offer. If you need to make a Student visa application, you would be required to submit the ATAS certificate in your application and this will be stated on the CAS. You also would not be allowed to register for your course without an ATAS certificate if required. You can apply for your ATAS certificate up to six months before your course start date. ATAS applications are made online at the ATAS website, which also provides further information about the process. Applications typically take at least four weeks be decided. However, in peak times such as August and September, the processing times can increase significantly. It is therefore very important that you apply for your ATAS certificate as early as possible before your course start date.

ATAS certificates are issued only for a specific course and institution. Therefore, if you change courses or move to another University, you will need to obtain a new ATAS certificate. This will apply even if you change courses at Brunel University London. You also need a new ATAS certificate if you need to extend your permission to stay (visa) in order to continue with a current course.

 You do not require an ATAS certificate if you have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. But please note that ATAS is required if you have refugee status or have made an asylum application. Students coming to the UK even for relevant courses of less than six months will require ATAS, even if with a Visitor Visa

Immigration Health Surcharge

In order to submit a Student visa application, you will have to pay an additional fee called an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Please note that this charge also applies to immigration applications in other categories. Although it does increase the overall cost of making a visa application, the money raised contributes to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). This gives you the right to receive free medical care while you are in the UK.

 The fee for Student visa applications is £470 for each year that the visa covers. Any dependant application is subject to the same charge. For example, if you apply for a visa to enter the UK for three years, the fee would be £1410. Please note that the annual fee will also be payable but reduced by 50% (£235) if your visa covers part of a year but less than six months.  

All students who apply for a visa of more than six months will be charged. This includes the Short-term Study Visa. However, students coming to the UK for less than six months will not be charged. This will mean that you will not be charged if your Student visa application is made for one of our Pre-sessional English courses of less than six months. Please note that you will be charged when you extend your permission to stay (visa) inside the UK in order to undertake your main degree course.

British Overseas Territories Citizens who are resident in the Falkland Islands are exempt.

Your visa application may be rejected if you fail to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge when you apply for your visa. However, if you pay the fee but your visa application is refused, the fee should be refunded.

For full details of the Immigration Health Surcharge, please visit the UKVI website.

Visa Refusals

In order to stand the best possible chance of making a successful Student visa application, you must ensure that you do the following:

  • Read the Student Visa Policy Guidance available at the UKVI website before you submit your application. You must ensure that you follow the instructions in the guidance.

  •  Ensure that you supply the correct supporting documents in your application. This can be done by following the policy guidance and the information available as you make the application. In order to meet the financial requirements, you may need to prepare your finances at least 28 days in advance of your application.

  • Ensure that you take time to complete your application carefully. You may allow other people, such as an education agent or immigration advisor, to help you with the application. However, your visa application is your responsibility and you must ensure all of the information supplied is correct.

  • Submit your application as early as possible. You are more likely to make a mistake in your visa application if you are rushing to complete it. You can make your application up to six months before your course start date. If you are making a Student visa application inside the UK, you must ensure that you apply before your current visa expires.

  • If applicable, be prepared for a credibility interview and answer the questions as clearly and honestly as you can (please see the section on Credibility Interviews above).

Some students will have their Student visa application refused. This sometimes happens because the student fails to meet the financial requirements (see section above) or supply other required documents. Students are sometimes also refused because they fail to demonstrate that they genuinely intend to study in the UK in their credibility interview.

What happens if my visa application is refused?

If your application is refused, you will receive written notice of this from UKVI in a letter/email. The first thing you must do is carefully read this letter in order to understand the reasons given for your refusal.

You should then send a copy of this letter to us by email. We can then help advise you of what your options are. These may be:

  • Submit a new Student visa application: If the reasons given for the refusal are valid and you still want to study at Brunel University London, you will need to make a new Student visa application. You will have to ensure that you do not repeat any errors or omissions in the second application, which will hopefully make the application successful. In order to reapply, you will need us to issue you with a new CAS. We shall only do this if we are confident that a second application would be successful and that there is enough time for you to obtain the visa before the start of your course. Also, if your application for further permission to stay in the UK has been refused, you may only be able to make a new application provided you still have valid leave and you have not 'overstayed'. We will therefore take these factors into account and we may ask to check some of your documents before we agree to give you a new CAS. Please note that you will be charged £21 if you are issued a second CAS. You always need to declare any previous visa refusals in a new application.
  • Administrative Review: If you believe that the decision to refuse your application is incorrect, you can submit an Administrative Review. This means that your application will be reconsidered by UKVI. If it is found that a mistake was made, the refusal decision may be reversed and your visa granted. Instructions about how to submit an Administrative Review will be supplied in the refusal letter. You will only have a limited time period to submit this Administrative Review if you choose to do so. Please note that for Student permission to stay applications (inside the UK), there will be an £80 fee for an Administrative Review. We would only advise you to do this if you genuinely believe a mistake has been made in refusing your application. This is another reason why you must inform us if you receive a visa refusal. Please refer to the UKVI website for further details about how to submit an Administrative Review.

    If you are not in a position to make another visa application or submit an Administrative Review, you may either need to withdraw your application to Brunel University London or choose to defer your place to the next available course intake. If you withdraw your place, your course deposit will be refunded (if applicable) upon receipt of the visa refusal letter.