Visa Guide

UK Visa Guide

Most international students need a visa/entry clearance to study at CSVPA. You can check the UK Visas and Immigration website to see if you will need a visa/entry clearance to study in the UK.

You can find more information about different visa types and information about making an application below. If you have any questions please contact

EU Student Information

Further guidance for EU and EEA students, who from 1 January 2021 will need to comply with the new system. Download the CSVPA Immigration EU Student Guide.

EU and EEA citizens resident in the UK before 31 December should apply to the EU settlement scheme. If you have any questions please contact

Types of Study Visa

Important: The information contained below is for guidance only. Although every effort is made to ensure its accuracy, we strongly recommend you visit the UKVI website for up-to-date information.

There are three routes for students who wish to study in the UK. You can find more information about each one in the sections below.

Types of study visa

Student Route

These visas are for students who want to study in the UK (usually for over 6 months). Students will have some right to work (depending on course) and may be able to extend their visa in the UK.

Standard Visitor visa

This visa is for courses under 6 months. For non-visa nationals this means that you do not need to apply in advance for entry clearance.

Study English in the UK (Short-term study visa) 

This visa is for English language courses lasting longer than 6 months and up to 11 months.

Student visa route

This is generally a route for those intending to study in the UK for more than six months. Some students on shorter courses choose to apply - one of the main reasons is if students want to extend in the UK, for example from an English course onto their main course of study.

Please note that all students applying for Student Visa of over 6 months are issued entry clearance (yellow sticker) for a limited period only. Students will need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card within 10 days of arriving in the UK. The BRP card covers the full length of their student visa. CSVPA will give you more details on how to collect the card and you will also receive a letter from UK Visas and Immigration with more information following a successful visa application.

A student cannot make a visa application more than six months before the start date of their course.

The maximum length of stay under the Student Route is 2 years for courses below degree level (from student’s 18th birthday) and 5 years for courses at degree level, subject to certain concessions. There is no longer a limit for Masters level study. Please refer to the UKVI website for details.

Further details about the Student Visa can be found here.

Standard Visitor visa route

Students wishing to study courses of up to 6 months (e.g. AEM or Pre-Masters) can apply for the Standard Visitor Visa. This visa is suitable for students of all ages and allows studying, sightseeing and visiting friends/family for up to 6 months. You can find more information in our Standard Visitor Visa guide or our Application Guide.

The main things you are not allowed to do are:

  • paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person
  • live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
  • claim public funds (benefits)
  • do a course of study that lasts longer than 6 months
  • Extend/switch your visa from within the UK

You will need to establish whether or not you are a visa national or a non-visa national. To do this, check whether the country you are a citizen of appears on the visa national list

Students who are non-visa nationals (this includes EU countries, Brazil, Japan and Korea amongst others) can apply to enter the UK as a visitor on arrival at the port of entry. Students should bring all the required documents to show at the border.

Students who are visa-nationals must apply for entry clearance as a visitor before travelling to the UK. It is a good idea to carry with you all of the documents that you submitted with your entry clearance application when you travel to the UK. The Border Force Officer may ask to see these documents when you arrive in the UK.

Short Term Student route (English only - up to 11 months)

Students (aged 16 or above) attending English language courses for 6 to 11 months can apply for a Short-Term Study visa (11 months). This is only possible if you are studying English. If you are studying any other course of over 6 months, you will need to apply for a Student Visa. You can find more information in our Short-Term Study Visa guide

The English language course does not need to lead to a specific qualification and there are no minimum academic requirements for immigration purposes.

You are not allowed to study on any other course or change your course while in the UK. The other restrictions are the same a Standard Visitor Visa.

Visa Interview Guide

Click here to download our 'Your Visa Interview' guide

What is the Visa Interview (Credibility Test)?

Student Visa applicants aged 16 or above can be asked to attend an interview during their visa application process. The purpose of visa interview is to check applicant’s credibility as a genuine student and interview questions can include applicant’s reasons for choosing to study their programme in the UK, their knowledge of the chosen programme and whether they can afford their studies in the UK. These interviews can be carried out via video link with the Home Office interviewing team in the UK, face-to-face with Entry Clearance Officers based in UK Embassies/High Commissions or via telephone.

  • Video-linked interviews: When students submit their applications in their home country at a Visa Application Centre (VAC), they could be asked to attend an interview with the Interviewing Officers, who are based in the UK, via the video-link facility. Interviewing Officers will be asking a series of questions around student’s intention to study their course with the institution in the UK.
  • Face-to-face interview with an Entry Clearance Officer at the local embassy or consulate for which students would normally be invited to attend an appointment in advance. The questions will be around intention, but can also be around their financial background, previous education/work history and other immigration-related questions.
  • Telephone interviews can also be conducted at times with a Visa Officer so students must make sure their telephone contact details are up to date and be prepared that there is a chance they might be called upon by the Visa Office.

Will students always be interviewed when they apply for a visa?

Yes, for Student Visa applicants applying from the countries where the Credibility Test has been rolled out and this will happen when they submit their visa applications at their local VACs. It is worth to note that UKVI defined ‘low risk’ countries are exempt from the Visa Interview requirement.

How do I prepare for the Visa Interview?

We do recommend our students to prepare for these visa interviews so they can answer the questions properly and accurately to assist the Visa Officers who will be assessing their applications and this also ensures there is minimum delay to the processing of their visa application.

Here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Do attend - Failure to attend the interview may result in your application being automatically refused. In the event you cannot attend, contact the Visa Office to reschedule.
  • Do answer - You should always answer all questions fully and honestly.
  • Do think - You should think in advance about your course, the documents you provided for your visa application, and your intention to study. The UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) want to know that you have given serious thought before choosing your course and researched the options.
  • Do speak in English! - One of the most important things they will be checking is your level of English, so always answer in English, not via an interpreter.
  • Do ask - Ask for clarification if you do not understand a question to make sure you are providing the information they want.

General information

  • What is the name of the school? This may not be the same as the school's visa sponsor name – check your CAS statement for these details.
  • Did you use an educational agent at any stage (even if you stopped using them)? Who is/was your agent and why did you choose them?
  • Why did you choose this university/college/school? Why did you choose this course and how does it relate to your previous study? Why do you wish to study in the UK? Why not stay in your own country to study, if similar courses are available there?
  • What is your plan after completing the course? Do you intend to stay in the UK (for additional studies) or are you returning home?
  • If you are changing course or study pathway, why are you are making such a change of direction in your studies?
  • How do you explain any gaps in your previous education/employment history?

Intended Course(s)

  • What is the course name and academic level? What qualification will you get after the course if you pass? This is all on your CAS and/or offer letter.
  • When does the course start and finish? How many terms/semesters is it?
  • What are the modules/subjects of the course? What will you study during the course? How are you going to be assessed on the course?
  • Did you do any research before choosing the school/course? What other schools/courses did you consider, and why did you decide on this one?
  • How is this course going to benefit you for your future career and/or academic plans?

Financial Circumstances

  • Who is going to pay your tuition fees and living costs? Where did they get the money? What is their salary?
  • You might need to provide documents to prove your financial ability to study in the UK, such as additional bank statements and proof of income from your financial sponsors. Do you have all of these? Make sure you bring additional documentations required by the Visa Office.
  • Do you know how much it costs to live in the UK and also what you might spend on day- to- day items such as food, travel and accommodation?
  • Do you know the total cost of the course and have an idea on any future courses?

Living in UK

  • Where is the school? Which city is it in and which part of the UK does it belong to?
  • Have you arranged accommodation? If not, why not? How will you/did you find it?
  • How much does accommodation cost in the city/town where you will be studying?
  • How will you commute between your accommodation and the school (bus, train, underground etc.)?

English language entry requirements


Students applying for Student Route must complete and pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) if they are studying below degree level. The current list of approved tests can be found here.

All students requiring a SELT will need to take one of the approved tests at an approved SELT centre. 

Please note that students progressing from a Child Student visa to a Student visa are exempt from the SELT requirement if they have successfully completed a GCSE or A Level in English Language or English Literature.

The minimum scores required by UKVI are below. However, each course has its own entry requirements which can be found here 

  • RQF/QCF/NQF Level 3-5: CEFR Level B1
    IELTS 4.0 minimum in all 4 components
    LanguageCert International ESOL SELT B1 minimum 33 in all components
    Pearson PTE Academic UKVI minimum 43 in all components
  • RQF/QCF/NQF Level 6+: CEFR Level B2
    NB: For courses at degree level or above, CSVPA can also use additional assessment methods. Click here for our table of other acceptable English qualifications.
    IELTS 5.5 minimum in all 4 components
    LanguageCert International ESOL SELT B2 minimum 33 in all components
    Pearson PTE Academic UKVI minimum 59 in all components

Students with an English level below CEFR Level B1 will have to use the Short-term Study visa route.


Secure English Language Tests (SELT)


Only the following types of students are not required to undertake a SELT in order to obtain a Student visa:

  • Student applicants who are 1) sponsored by a Higher Education Provider (HEP) for 2) courses at or above RQF/QCF/NQF Level 6.
  • Child Student applicants
  • Students who have successfully completed a GCSE or A Level in English (Lanaguage or Literature) in UK, which was started aged under 18.
  • Nationals from a majority English-speaking country
  • Students who have completed an academic qualification equivalent to a UK degree which was taught in a majority English-speaking country (with the exception of Canada), including UK.

UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) majority English-speaking countries’ list - nationals from these countries are exempt from requiring a SELT:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and New Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

The Points-Based System

In order to qualify for Student or Child Student, students must pass a points-based assessment by satisfying the following:

Points Requirement: Child Student

The applicant must be awarded a total of 70 points based on the table below:

Points type

Relevant requirements to be met

Number of points


  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies requirement
  • Course requirement
  • Study at an independent school
  • Aged between 4 and 17 when applying
  • Parental consent


Financial requirement: Boarding fees paid or a bank statement must be provided to confirm the student (or parent/legal guardian) has held the money for a minimum of 28 days


Points Requirement: Student

The applicant must be awarded a total of 70 points based on the table below:

Points type

Relevant requirements to be met

Number of points


  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies requirement
  • Course requirement
  • Approved qualification requirement
  • Level of study requirement
  • Place of study requirement


Financial requirement: Boarding fees paid or a bank statement must be provided to confirm the student (or parent/legal guardian) has held the money for a minimum of 28 days


English language

English Langauge requirement: SELT


Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) will include information about the student, their sponsor (education provider), their course and their finances.

CSVPA admissions team will send out CAS statements to those who need to apply under the Student route. This is conditional upon the student fulfilling the terms set out in their offer letter and having confirmed their place(s) by returning the required deposit or sponsorship letter. The CAS statement should then be included with their visa application.

The CAS statement from our admissions team will include:

  • The student's name, nationality and passport/travel document number.
  • The sponsor's licence number, address and contact details; any details of partner institutions or overseas institution (if the course is jointly taught).
  • Course details such as title, level, qualifications to be awarded, start and expected end date, hours per week, address of student's main place of study.
  • Course fees for the first year and any payments already made. If relevant, any accommodation fees for the first year and any payments already made.
  • Documents used to obtain the offer: this will give a brief description of our assessment of the student's academic level and English proficiency, including details such as student's previous courses/qualifications and Secure English Language Test results. If a student has previously studied in the UK under the Student route, an Academic Progression statement on how the new course of studies represents academic progression is also included here.


Most student visa refusals under the Student route are due to errors in financial documentation. Please read this section carefully and check the UKVI website for up to date advice.

Depending on the length of the course and your accommodation, the amount of finance required to satisfy the points-based assessment will vary as follows. Please note that BA and MA students will not have boarding fees written on the CAS even if they are booked into college accommodation. These students will need to show the course fees + maintenance, as detailed in independent accommodation section below:

Boarding Full boarding fees paid, or available in student or parents' bank account
Independent Accommodation

Course fees (paid or in bank account) plus

  • £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London
  • £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London

You might not need to provide financial evidence if you’re from an exempt country but you should still make sure you have enough funds. UK Visas and Immigration may ask you to show that you have them.

Types of funds you can rely on

You can show you have enough money using:

  • your own money
  • your parent’s money (if they provide a letter confirming they agree to you using it this way)
  • an official financial or government sponsorship or grant
  • a student loan from a government, government sponsored loan company, or a regulated student loans scheme

Evidence of Funds

Evidence of your own funds (not loan or sponsorship) can be provided in the following ways:

  • bank statements
  • building society passbooks
  • certificates of deposit
  • a letter from your bank or building society

For bank statements, they must:

  • Be dated no more than one month before the visa application submission date;
  • Show that the entire amount required (as per above) has been in the account for 28 consecutive days (and has not fallen below the required amount throughout the 28 days)
  • Be for a cash account
  • Show the date it was issued, account holders name, name of bank or building society and the balance over the 28 day period

Fees Paid to Institutions

Fees already paid to the College towards student's tuition or boarding fees can be deducted when calculating how much money a student needs to meet the finance requirements for a Student visa application. 

Applying using your parent's documents

If parent's bank statements are used in the visa application, submission of the following to prove the relationship between parents and the applicant is also required:

  • Original legal documentation from parent/guardian who are financially supporting the applicant. The documentation should confirm the relationship between the parent/guardian and the applicant. This could include the following:
    • Birth certificate showing the applicant and the parents' names;
    • Certificate of adoption showing applicant and the parents' names;
    • Court document showing the applicant and the legal guardian's names;
    • A letter from parent/guardian confirming the relationship between the applicant and the parent/guardian and that parent/guardian's consent to using their funds to pay for the tuition and maintenance during the applicant's studies in the UK.

Download and read our quick reference guide to evidencing your finances to ensure you satisfy UKVI requirements.

Sponsor Licenses

The sponsor licence register can be found here.

Colleges Sponsor Licence Name Sponsor Type Type of CAS Address
CATS Cambridge Cambridge Arts and Sciences
License No: RTC4328J1
Independent School Child Student and Student 1 High Street, Chesterton,
Cambridge, CB4 1NQ
CSVPA Cambridge Arts and Sciences
License No: RTC4328J1
Independent School (also registered as a Higher Education Provider) Child Student and Student 14 Round Church Street,
Cambridge, CB5 8AD
CATS London Cambridge Arts and Sciences
License No: RTC4328J1
Independent School Child Student and Student 43-45 Bloomsbury Square,
London, WC1A 2RA
CATS Canterbury CATS Canterbury
License No: JET1C37F8
Independant School Child Student and Student 68 New Dover Rd,
Canterbury CT1 3LQ

Note: International students can only study with a licensed sponsor. As a condition of being a licensed sponsor, the education provider is responsible for the student while they are in the UK and are obliged to report students to the UKVI if they 1) do not arrive for the start of their course 2) withdraw from their course 3) defer or suspend their studies 4) are absent for significant periods of time.

Visa extension in the UK

Child Students can generally apply in the UK. Students are restricted in extending their visas in the UK, and it will depend on the following criteria. Please contact us with any quieries.

  • Type of their current sponsor
  • Gap between the current visa end date and new course start date
  • Academic Progression requirement
    • Type of the Sponsor. Please refer to the Register of Sponsors to find out the type of the educational establishment. Only those on Students visas, who are currently sponsored by a HEP, Embedded College or Independent School, can extend their visa in the UK. CATS and CSVPA meet these requirements.
    • Gap between the current visa end date and new course start date MUST NOT exceed 28 days.
    • Academic Progression requirement must be met. According to the Home Office clarification – Academic Progression requirement is met when an applicant successfully completed (meaning you have achieved the qualification for which you were studying) the previous course for which you were last granted leave, and your new course must be above the level of the previous course for which you were given leave.


The visa checklist

Students will need to:

  • Complete the appropriate visa application form
  • Pay the visa application fee
  • Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Please click here for full details.
  • Prepare for your visa interview (if applicable)
  • Students will need to provide the following:
    • A valid passport or travel document
    • A CAS statement from a licensed sponsor
    • Documents to show they meet the maintenance requirements (such as a bank statement featuring the student's name (or parent or guardian, with evidence of relationship and support letter) or a loan in their name or government sponsorship
    • Documents listed by their sponsors in the CAS statement assigned by their sponsor, such as academic transcripts and IELTS certificate.
    • Biometric details
    • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Card (if applicable)
    • TB certificate (click here to see if you are required to possess a TB certificate before submitting your application for your UK student visa)

Read more about visa interviews.

Working whilst studying

International students are able to work in the UK as per the conditions imposed in their visa during their studies with opportunities available including:

  • Part-time work
  • Vacation work
  • Course-related work placements.

Working whilst studying can bring benefits including extra money and it can also help to improve English language. However, students should be careful not to let a job interfere with their studies as this is, after all, the reason why they are here in the UK.

Do not under-estimate the hours needed to focus on studies in order to successfully achieve the desired academic result.

Students may work part-time for a number of hours during term time depending on their course, age and type of visa. The following restrictions apply:

Child students, who are over the age of 16, are allowed to work if it is no more than 10 hours a week during term-time; full-time during vacations.

Students - only if their sponsor is HEP (Cambridge Arts and Sciences is a registered HEP, Higher Education Provider) -  are allowed to work between 10—20 hours during term-time (dependant on the level of the course), and full time during vacations.

Note: Please always refer to the UKVI website for up to date information in case of policy changes.

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