Are you an undergraduate student in the US interested in attending university in the UK? Are you interested in studying in the UK for over six months? Then this guide is for you.

You’re likely asking yourself, ‘What type of visa do I need to study in the UK as a US student?’ The answer is a student visa, of course! At this stage, you may not be aware of how the process goes –– but we’ve got you covered. Follow along as we provide an overview of the UK visa application steps for US students and other common questions about the process.

*Disclaimer: Costs and currency equivalents are accurate to the date of publication. Always make sure to check official guidance for any changes or updates to the costs mentioned below.

There are other frequently asked questions about the student visa process for students from the US, which we’ve answered here.

UK visa process explained

You must obtain a student visa as an international student coming from the US to attend university in the UK for over six months. Follow these five steps when applying for one:

  • Step 1: Apply to your chosen university and receive an unconditional offer

Before you apply for your student visa to the UK, you need to get a head start on your university applications. This will be an additional proof for your visa application process.

Then, you’ll need to receive an unconditional offer from one of your chosen universities that you want to attend in the UK to continue to the student visa process.

  • Step 2: Obtain your CAS

In addition to an unconditional offer, you’ll also need to receive a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). This document costs £25, equivalent to approximately US$32.

  • Step 3: Officially begin the application process

With your unconditional offer and CAS in hand, you can officially start the student visa application process. It’s imperative to apply for your student visa at least six months before your course starts. The student visa application fee costs £490, which is about US$622.

Please see the following link for detailed information on the process: Student visa : Overview

There is an expected high demand for UK student visas this summer. We encourage you to apply for your student visa as early as possible - as soon as you have received your Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS).

  • Step 4: Pay the IHS:

As a future undergraduate student attending university and staying in the UK for over six months, you’ll need to pay a fee called an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). This fee allows students access to the National Health Service, the UK’s state healthcare system, at no additional cost. So, it’s a valuable part of the application process. 

The Immigration Health Surcharge is £776 per year for student visa applications submitted on or after the 6th of February 2024, that is about US$980. Note that you’ll be charged accordingly if you’re in the UK for part of a year.

To make things easier, find out how much you’ll be expected to pay by checking the following link: Pay for UK healthcare as part of your immigration application: How much you have to pay.

  • Complete your application and have it accepted before arriving in the UK

After completing steps 1–4, all that’s left to do is complete your application and have it be accepted before you arrive in the UK.

What is the timeline for processing a UK student visa for US students?

Most students receive a decision on their visa within three weeks. Patience is key after you submit your application. 

Can I work part-time while holding a UK student visa as a US student?

Yes, most international students in the UK take a part-time job, work placement, or internship alongside their studies. For most courses, you can work for up to 20 hours per week during term time.

Before you start looking for work, check your visa and residence permit to see if there are any restrictions for the type of work or number of hours you perform.

UK student visa application denied

While it’s unlikely, there are various reasons a UK student visa can be denied, including incomplete application, poor academic records, insufficient funds, criminal record, and more. To avoid this possibility, be sure to thoroughly check your university requirements against your academic history and guarantee you’re fully completing all aspects of the student visa application as you progress.

If denied, you’ll receive a letter explaining why your application was refused. You’ll also find out if you have the right to either an administrative review or immigration decision appeal to try to re-apply for a UK student visa.

Financial requirements for the UK student visa

Applying for a student visa as a US student includes upfront fees for you CAS, student visa application, and HIS. Remember that this total is just your upfront fees; you’ll also need to keep up with your IHS fees each year, your course fees, living expenses, etc. It may feel overwhelming, but you do have financial assistance options.

 US funding options for a UK education

Health or medical requirements for obtaining a UK student visa

In addition to the annual IHS fees, you’ll need to provide tuberculosis test results as part of the student visa application. Some universities have additional health or medical requirements for international students attending on a student visa; make sure to check in with your university during the process in case other documentation is needed.

Health and welfare

Following these simple steps when applying for a UK student visa will help eliminate some stress and better prepare you for the process –– we’re also here as a resource if ever needed.

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