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Visa Application

Once you have received your CAS, you can apply for a student visa on the UKVI's website. The earliest you can apply for a visa is 6 months before you start your course. Here we share information on what you will need to know when it comes to submitting a valid visa application from outside of the UK.

What do I need when I apply?

When you are completing your visa application, you should ensure you have the documents and funds stated below. This list includes documents that you will have provided during your CAS process, and additional documents that will be requested on the visa application form: 

  • CAS certificate 
  • Entry qualification  
  • Evidence of English language 
  • Current passport
  • National identification card (if applicable)
  • Financial evidence (if applicable) + OANDA currency conversion
  • Evidence of relationship (i.e., marriage certificate; birth certificate; certificate of adoption) + a signed letter of consent from your parent(s) or partner if you are using their financial evidence
  • Tuberculosis test certificate (if applicable)
  • ATAS certificate (if applicable)
  • Evidence of any previous visa refusals (if applicable)
  • Evidence of any criminal convictions (if applicable)
  • Evidence of any immigration applications to other countries
  • Official professional translations of your documents (if applicable) 
  • Available funds to pay your application costs 

You will be expected to provide copies of your documents to UKVI to support your visa application. 

How much does it cost?

The cost for applying for a Student Route VISA outside of the UK is £490, as of November 2023. This £490 cost is also correct for those looking to switch to, or extend a Student Route VISA from within the UK.

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.  How much you pay depends on how long your visa lasts. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.  You’ll require your course dates to calculate your total IHS cost. These can be found on your CAS statement.

Additional biometric enrolment fees and value-added service fees may also apply, including if you choose to use the UKVI priority service.   

What are biometrics?

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity. You’ll be asked to give your fingerprints and a photograph (biometric information). How you do this depends on where you’re from and what type of passport you have. 

You’ll either: 

  • visit a visa application centre 
  • use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document  

You’ll be told what you need to do when you apply. 

Can my family members apply?

In order to bring dependants to the UK, you must:

  • be sponsored by your government, and studying a course longer than 6 months.
  • be a full-time student, studying a postgraduate course (RQF level 7 or higher) that lasts 9 months or longer.

If your postgraduate course starts on or after the 1st of January, 2024, it must be:

  • a PhD or other doctorate (RQF Level 8)
  • a research-based higher degree

Before January 1st, 2024, the below information remains correct.

It is possible for your partner and children (otherwise known as ‘dependents’) to apply to come to the UK if you are: 

A dependent partner or child is classed as one of the following: 

  • your husband, wife, or civil partner 
  • your unmarried partner 
  • your child under 18 years old  

You will be expected to provide evidence of your relationship(s) when you apply. 

Visit the UKVI website for more information about dependent visa applications. 

What happens after I send my visa application form?

During your visa application process, you may be contacted by the UKVI if they require further information, for example: 

  • your supporting documents need to be verified
  • you may need to attend an interview
  • you may be required to provide more details of your personal circumstances (i.e., if you have a criminal conviction)

If you need to change something in your application after you’ve sent it, you can contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). 

You can contact the UKVI if you want to withdraw your application. Your application fee will only be refunded if UKVI has not started processing your visa application. 

When will I receive my visa decision?

You will usually get a decision on your visa application within 3 weeks, but this may depend on the time of year you apply as certain periods are particularly busy. You may be able to pay for a priority service to get a faster decision, if this service is available in your area.   

What will my visa look like?

If your visa application is successful, you will receive one of the following: 

When can I travel?

You should try to arrive before your course starts, however, the start date on your VISA is the earliest you should arrive in the UK. If your VISA application gets approved with plenty of time left, you will be able to arrive in the UK before your course begins:

If your course lasts 6 months or less, you should be able to arrive up to 1 week before your course start date.


If your course lasts more than 6 months, you should be able to arrive up to 1 month before your course start date.

The first few weeks of university are very important to engage in all academic, support and recreational activities - These induction weeks will be very helpful to ensure you meet your colleagues and teaching staff, get familiar with the campus and the city, and help you settle in ready to begin your course.

Try to ensure you submit your visa application as soon as possible so you are more likely to receive an outcome in good time, enabling you to travel prior to your course start date.

What if my visa application is refused?

The UKVI will send you a refusal notice letter. You must inform the University of Sunderland at the earliest opportunity and provide a copy of this letter.  If this decision can be challenged, the university’s International Student Support (ISS) team will help you with an administrative review. Opportunities to review refusals are time-limited, so please respond to any emails concerning a refusal as quickly as possible.