Hundreds of thousands of international students attend various educational programs in the United Kingdom each year. In 2010-2011, for example, 428,225 students from countries all over the world attended colleges and universities in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Liverpool, and many other British cities and towns. The top 20 countries that sent the most international students to the UK in 2010-2011 were: (1) The People’s Republic of China (67,325); (2) India (39,090); (3) Nigeria (17,585); (4) Ireland (16,855); (5) Germany (16,265); (6) United States (15,555); (7) Malaysia (13,900); (8) France (13,325); (9) Greece (11,630); (10) Cyprus (11,320); (11) Hong Kong (10,440); (12) Saudi Arabia (10,270); (13) Pakistan (10,185); (14) Poland (7,330); (15) Italy (7,100); (16) Thailand (5,945); (17) Canada (5,905); (18) Spain (5,795); (19) Romania (4,625); and (20) Bulgaria (4,615). Keep in mind, however, that this is merely a fraction of the countries that sent international students to study in the United Kingdom in 2010-2011 and that there are literally tens of thousands more from every corner of the globe receiving an excellent education in Britain.
Their reasons for studying in the UK are likely as diverse as the countries they came from. Some people want to obtain a world-class education at some of the best schools on Earth. Others are seeking an interesting international educational experience in a cosmopolitan country that has a fascinating history and offers so much to see and do. No matter where they came from or what their motives were, the highly-rated education that they received in the United Kingdom can equip them with valuable tools to enhance their career goals and empower them to experience a higher standard of living! These benefits are not just limited to them, but YOU may also be able to receive all that a higher education in the UK has to offer! If you want to study in Great Britain as an international student, however, you will need (in most cases) to meet the various UK student visa requirements.
UK Student Visa Requirements
Most people (around 70%) who want to study in the United Kingdom will need to be issued a student visa by the British government. It is important to realize, however, that there are some individuals (approximately 30% of international students) who do not require a student visa to study in Britain (although they will have other conditions to meet). According to the UK Border Agency (UKBA), a student visa is not required if “you are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland….” The UKBA website lists the following countries as being members of the EEA and not requiring a student visa to study in the UK: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Furthermore, according to the British government, a student visa to the UK is not necessary if “you are a British overseas territories citizen, unless you are from one of the sovereign based areas of Cyprus” or “you are a Commonwealth citizen with permission to enter or stay in the UK because at least one of your grandparents was born in the UK.” Finally, if “you have no conditions or time limit attached to your stay” in Britain, then a student visa to the United Kingdom is not required, according to the UK Border Agency. Thus, if you fall into one of these categories, the British government states that you will not need a student visa to the United Kingdom; however, there are certain other requirements you may still need to meet in order to study in the Great Britain. As noted above, some individuals do not need a student visa to study in Great Britain, however, most people will need to meet the various UK student visa requirements. For example, out of the 428,225 international students who were studying in Britain in 2010-2011, 70% of them (298,110) were non-EU students who required a student visa. If you fall into this larger group, the following information about UK student visa requirements should be helpful. The United Kingdom established a Five-Tier Points-Based System (PBS) in November 2008 for people who want to study or work in the UK, with the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa created for international students (noting the above mentioned exceptions). According to the British Points-Based System (PBS), individuals applying for the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa to the UK must receive a total of 40 points which are issued based upon two main criteria: 30 points are given for Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and 10 points are granted for Adequate Financial Resources.
Please note that according to the UK student visa requirements, international students applying to study in the United Kingdom after April 21, 2011, must have satisfactory English language skills before they may begin the process of applying for the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa to the UK. If your English language level is not at an acceptable level, you will not be able to proceed to the next step of obtaining the Confirmation for Acceptance for Studies (CAS). Assuming that your English language skills meet the British government criteria, as stated above, you will need to receive a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) and a CAS Number from a school approved by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) as a Tier 4 Sponsor with Highly Trusted Status (HTS). If you are issued the CAS and the CAS Number from an authorized school in the UK, you will receive 30 points (out of the 40 points required) for the PBS and may then proceed to the next step, which is to actually apply for the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa to the UK. If you do not have a CAS, you may not apply for the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa to the United Kingdom. Remember that “timing is everything,” so you must apply for the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa to the UK within 6 months of the date that the CAS was issued for you by your Tier 4 Sponsor (i.e., by the authorized school that accepted you into their educational program in the UK). Additionally, you will receive 10 points (out of the 40 points required) for the PBS if you can provide proof that you possess adequate financial resources to pay for your school and living expenses while you are in Great Britain. Furthermore, you will be required to submit the appropriate completed version of the “Appendix 8 Form” and also send two current passport photos (done according to specific standards) of yourself and all your dependents who are going to apply with you (if appropriate). Part of the application process includes going to a British Visa Application Center and registering your fingerprints and facial image for your Tier 4 (General) Student Visa file.
If you meet the various UK student visa requirements and your Tier 4 (General) Student Visa to the United Kingdom is approved, you will send your passport or other original approved travel document to the British government to receive the visa. If you have eligible dependents who will accompany you to live in Great Britain while you are in school, you must also send their passports or other original approved travel documents to the British government so they can also receive the visa. Once you receive your Tier 4 (General) Student Visa to the UK, the British government will then permit you to live, study, and even work (in most cases and under certain conditions) in the United Kingdom for the entire time that you are enrolled in your educational program and complying with the terms of the student visa. Not only that – you may also remain in Great Britain for a period of time after your educational program is completed (depending upon the category and time period of your program of study). At the end of that additional length of stay following the completion of your educational program, you will need to depart from the United Kingdom – unless you have officially requested to be moved into a different immigration category or to extend the length of your stay in Britain.
So, if you meet the UK student visa requirements for the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa, perhaps you, too, can join the almost half-million international students already enjoying an amazing academic experience in Great Britain!
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