You will generally need a visa to study in the UK if you are a national of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
If your course is shorter than 6 months, you can enter on a Student Visitor visa. If your course is longer than 6 months, you will need a Tier 4 (general) visa. You can assess your personal visa status through the UK Border Agency (UKBA) website: "Do I need a visa?"
If you require a visa to study in the UK, the University of Reading can act as your sponsor. Visas issued under University of Reading sponsorship are valid for study at Reading only. If you are transferring to Reading from another university, you will need to apply for another visa under University of Reading sponsorship.
The UK visa system changed to a new points-based system from 31 March 2009. To apply for a student visa you need 40 points. These points come from:
- a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number from the University (30 points)
- proof that you meet the financial requirements (10 points)
A CAS number will be issued to you as part of the admissions process. Once you have an unconditional offer from the University, your CAS number will be issued by the faculty office of the School you will be joining. Please contact them if you are eligible to receive a CAS number and have not yet received one. We advise you to apply for your visa as soon as you receive your CAS number.
You will need to provide evidence that you have funds to cover both your studies (i.e. tuition fees if you have not already paid them) and your living costs (£800 per month for courses shorter than 9 months or £7,200 for courses longer than 9 months). The funds have to be in your account at least 28 days before you apply for your visa. During that time, the total amount in your account cannot drop below the minimum amount required by the UKBA.
You will also need to provide supporting documents including original documents relating to your existing academic qualifications for entry. Complete information about the documents required can be found on the UKBA website.
We strongly advise you to read the Tier 4 policy guidance [pdf] from the UKBA, which will give you detailed information about applying for your student visa.
The International Student Advice pages have more information about your duties and responsibilities under the Points-Based System.
Important information for 2012 visas
The busy student season for visas coincides with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Students are therefore strongly advised to read the information on the UK Border Agency website, apply for their CAS number from their chosen place of study and apply for their visa in good time. Students can apply for a visa up to 3 months in advance of their intended course start date in the UK. Be prepared and apply early!
The UK Government has introduced changes to its immigration process, which are effective from 6 April 2012. These changes include limiting the time that can be spent studying at degree level. You can find out more on UKCISA's news page (dated 6 February 2012).
Visa advice before you leave home
You can obtain visa advice from your local Embassy or UK High Commission. UKCISA also provides a detailed guide on making a Tier 4 application.
Visa advice when you get to Reading
Once you arrive at the University of Reading, you can seek advice from RUSU's Student Advice Centre. The student advisors are trained to give impartial, honest and legally sound advice. They will listen to your issues and guide you in the right direction.
The UKBA has created a series of videos giving advice on how to get a visa and other useful information. You can access this by visiting the UKBA YouTube channel.
UKCISA also provides information and advice on applying for a student visa.
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