If you are between 4 and 17 years old and wish to study at an independent school in the UK, you can apply for a Child Student visa. To be eligible, you must:
- Have an unconditional offer from an independent school.
- Demonstrate sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK and cover your course fees.
- Obtain consent from your parent or guardian to study in the UK, which you’ll need to prove during the application process.
If you are 18 or older, you should apply for a Student visa instead. This visa category has replaced the Tier 4 (Child) student visa.
When to Apply
The timing of your application depends on whether you are applying from within or outside the UK:
- Applying from outside the UK: You can apply up to 6 months before your course starts, and you typically receive a decision within 3 weeks.
- Applying from inside the UK: You can apply as early as 3 months before your course begins. It’s crucial to apply before your current visa expires, and your new course must commence within 28 days of your current visa expiring. The decision usually takes about 8 weeks.
Duration of Stay
The duration of your stay is determined by your age at the time of application and the length of your course:
- Under 16: The length of the course (up to 6 years) plus an additional 4 months.
- Ages 16 or 17: The length of the course (up to 3 years) plus an additional 4 months.
The fees for the Child Student visa are as follows:
- £363 for applying from outside the UK.
- £490 for extending or switching to a Child Student visa from within the UK.
You will also be required to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.
What You Can and Cannot Do
With a Child Student visa, you can study at an independent school. If you are 16 or older, you can also work part-time during term (up to 10 hours per week), full-time during vacations, and on a work placement as part of your course (up to 50% of your course).
However, you cannot study at an academy or a local authority-funded school, access public funds (benefits), take a full-time permanent job, work as a professional sportsperson or entertainer, apply for settlement, or bring family members (dependents) with you. If a parent wishes to accompany you, they must apply for a Parent of a Child Student visa.
For a comprehensive list of what you can and cannot do with a Child Student visa, refer to the guidance provided upon a successful application.
Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
Once your educational institution offers you a course placement, they will issue a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This reference number is essential for your visa application and can cover both pre-sessional courses and your main course of study. You must apply for your visa within 6 months of receiving your CAS.
You must have sufficient funds to cover your course fees and support yourself in the UK. The required amount depends on your living arrangements:
- Living with a parent or guardian: You and your parent must have enough money to cover your course fees for one academic year (up to 9 months). Additionally, you’ll need £1,560 per month (for up to 9 months) for both you and your parent. If there are additional children accompanying your parent, they must also hold a Child Student visa, and an extra £625 per month (for up to 9 months) per child is necessary.
- Boarding at an independent school: You must have enough money to pay for your course fees and boarding fees for one academic year (up to 9 months).
- Living with a foster carer or close relative: You must have enough money to cover your course fees for one academic year (up to 9 months). Your foster carer or close relative must confirm that they possess at least £570 per month (for up to 9 months). These individuals must be British citizens or have ‘indefinite leave to remain‘ in the UK and cannot be your parent.
- Living independently at ages 16 or 17: You must have enough money to pay for your course fees for one academic year (up to 9 months). Additionally, you’ll need either £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) if you’re studying in London or £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) if you’re studying outside of London. Proof of financial stability for at least 28 consecutive days is required, with the end date within 31 days of your visa application.
Documents Required for Application
When applying for your Child Student visa, you must provide:
- A current passport or valid travel document.
- A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your course provider.
- Written consent from your parent or legal guardian for your study in the UK.
Additional documents may be necessary based on your circumstances, including proof of sufficient funds, proof of your relationship to your parent or guardian, evidence of qualifications used to secure your course placement, tuberculosis (TB) test results, and written consent from your financial sponsor if you received sponsorship for your course fees and living costs in the last 12 months.
You must apply online for a Child Student visa:
- Apply from outside the UK: Part of the application process involves proving your identity. This can be done by having your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre or using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document.
- Apply inside the UK: You may apply to extend your Child Student visa or switch from another type of visa. You must be between 4 and 17 years old to switch to this visa category.
Typically, you’ll receive a decision within 3 weeks. If you need to provide biometric information at a visa application centre, you may have the option to pay for expedited processing services, including faster decisions.
Extending Your Visa
If you wish to extend your stay in the UK, you can apply to extend your Child Student visa, even if you currently hold a Tier 4 (Child) student visa. To be eligible, you must:
- Be in the UK on a Child Student visa (or Tier 4 (Child) student visa).
- Possess an unconditional offer for a course from a licensed Child Student sponsor, as indicated by your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
- If you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for less than 12 months, you’ll need to demonstrate sufficient funds to support yourself.
Switching to This Visa
You may be able to switch to a Child Student visa from another type of visa if you are between 4 and 17 years old. However, you cannot switch to this visa if you hold a visitor visa, short-term student visa, or leave outside the immigration rules. Individuals with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme do not need to apply for a visa.
How The SmartMove2UK Can Assist You
Navigating the visa requirements and application process can be complex, especially when you are sending your child to the UK for education. Our team of UK immigration lawyers at The SmartMove2UK has extensive experience helping clients understand the financial, language, medical, and other requirements. We have assisted parents from around the world in providing their children with world-class education in the UK. If you are unsure about eligibility requirements or how to meet financial criteria, you can schedule a meeting with our UK Child Student Visa Consultant, located in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru. Contact us at +91 9819127002 or email us at [email protected]