Immigration and visas

Student route: Your application

Student chatting in the Secret Garden

If you wish to study for more than 6 months and are eligible for our immigration sponsorship, you will be issued with a CAS and will be able to apply for immigration permission under the Student route. The Student Immigration Rules also apply to EEA/Swiss nationals who do not have UK settlement rights.

If you will be studying at the University of Essex International College and your CAS is issued by the college or by Kaplan, the guidance in these pages does not apply to you. Please contact the college.

If you’re coming from overseas to study for less than 6 months you may be able to apply as a Visitor.

Before you apply

Before you can submit a Student route application, you will need your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from the University. Once you have it:

Check your CAS statement before you apply to make sure it is correct

If anything needs amending or you’ve changed your mind about where you would like to make your application or the course you would like to study since requesting your CAS, contact the team that issued it as soon as possible. We will need to do some additional checks and if necessary, make amendments to your CAS before you can apply.

Ensure you are eligible to apply and meet all the requirements to make a Student route application

You will be required to confirm this to the Home Office when you submit the application. Read the Home Office guidance, information below and the UKCISA guidance again to make sure there have been no changes and that you understand all the requirements. We recommend you leave it no later than 2 months before you intend to apply so you have time to put your finances in place and gather all the required evidence.

The Home Office has issued a simple guide to the Student visa application process, you can download the guide here.

If you are hoping to apply in the UK, you will need to check if you can

There are additional requirements for applying in the UK and it is not always possible to do so. Read the UKCISA guidance ‘Can you apply in the UK?' and read our guidance below.

You may be able to apply for Student dependant permission for your family if: 

  • You are in receipt of a scholarship or financial sponsorship from a government and your course (of any level) is full-time and at least six months.


  • You are studying a full-time postgraduate level course (research or non-research based) of nine months or longer and your course start date was before 1 January 2024.


  • You are doing a full-time research-based higher degree, a PhD or other doctoral qualification of nine months or longer, with a course start date on or after 1 January 2024.
    • At Essex, study on the following courses mean you are eligible to have dependants with you in the UK:

      • PhD
      • Integrated PhD
      • MAD/ MSD (Masters by Dissertation)
      • MPhil

      An MRes programme is not considered a research-based higher degree so it would not qualify you to have dependants.

      All Course descriptions for our postgraduate programmes include information on whether a programme is a research course (and can therefore be considered a research-based degree).


      You are studying or have studied on a full-time course lasting at least six months and all four bullet points below apply:

      • Your Student permission is current or expired no more than three months before this immigration application.
      • Your new immigration application is for a full-time course that is at least six months.
      • Your dependant already has Student-dependant immigration permission (or it expired no more than three months before this application), or your dependant is your child who was born since you were last granted your immigration permission.
      • You are applying for immigration permission at the same time as your dependant.

      For more information about and for dependants based on the Immigration Rules in place at the current time, read the webpages and Student route: caseworker guidance, in addition to the detailed UKCISA information, which includes advice if you have a baby whilst you are studying in the UK.

      If you are making a visa application for dependants within the UK, SU Advice can support you to prepare and submit your application(s).

Your finances and documents

UKCISA has clear and useful guidance that we recommend you read, do not wait until you are about to make your application to find out what you need as it is likely you will not have what you need to apply in time. The most common reason for the caseworker to refuse a Student route application is on financial grounds or because the evidence supplied does not meet the requirements.

Appendix Finance and Appendix Student lists the information that must be included in any financial document that you use to support your application.

You are exempt from the financial requirements if:

  • You are applying for Student permission inside the UK and you have been living in the UK for 12 months or more with valid immigration permission at the time of your application or;
  • You are applying from inside or outside the UK as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer or as a doctor or dentist in training on a recognised foundation programme.

Please refer to Appendix Student of the Immigration Rules for further details. If you are exempt you will not need to meet the financial requirements or provide any financial documents.

We have covered the information that applies if you are studying at one of our UK campuses, as well as the most common queries we receive on this topic below. However, this is not exhaustive, and it is imperative you read the guidance and Immigration Rules.

Have the right amount of money

The Student Immigration Rules require you to have a specified amount of money for your course fees and living costs when you submit your application and to supply the required evidence.

The money you show as available for living expenses and tuition fees must remain available to you for these purposes so you should only use them to pay course fees or to pay living expenses when you are inside the UK studying. Remember, if you receive a refusal and want to apply again, you will need to be able to show you have these funds on the date you make the new Student route application.

If you are applying outside the UK or you have been living in the UK with Student immigration for less than 12 months, you will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Course fees: If you have made any payment(s) to the university toward your fees, the total amount paid must be shown on your CAS. If you have a scholarship from the University of Essex this should be included on your CAS. If you have not paid all the fees you must show you have money to pay the balance of fees plus;
  • Living costs: Our campuses are outside London, so the Home Office requires you to show you have a minimum of £1,023 per calendar month for each month of your course up to a maximum of nine months. £9,207 is the most you will need to have. If you have paid towards your University accommodation and this is reflected on your CAS, you can deduct a maximum of £1,334 from the total amount you’ll need to have for living costs.
  • Course duration: If your course duration, based on your CAS course dates, includes part of a month it will be rounded up. For example, if your course is 7 months and 2 weeks long, you must show you have enough money for 8 months.

Don’t forget, you will also need additional money to pay the visa application fees and Immigration Health Surcharge, if applicable.

Where your money can be held and the evidence you will need

If you are a 'low-risk' applicant (see below for more information), you should obtain the evidence of your money in the format required, but you do not need to include it with your initial application. All other applicants (except those who are exempt from meeting the financial requirements) must include this evidence with their application.

Evidence of your money must meet specific requirements. If it does not, your immigration application is likely to be refused.

If you have already paid money to us for your course fees or accommodation, make sure the information is included in your CAS. If you need payment information updated on your CAS, contact the relevant team with evidence of payments made and ask us to amend it, do not apply until we have let you know it has been updated.

As evidence of your money, you can use any one or more of these forms of evidence provided Home Office definitions and requirements are met:

  • personal bank statements
  • certificate(s) of deposit
  • letter from your bank, or a regulated financial institution
  • letter from an official financial sponsor
  • letter from a regulated financial institution confirming that you have a loan from the national government, the state or regional government, or a government-sponsored student loan company
  • letter from a regulated financial institution confirming that you have a loan that is part of an academic or educational loans scheme
  • statements of a passbook from a building society

Read the UKCISA guidance for more information about the exact requirements that apply as well as, the Appendix Finance and Appendix Student Immigration Rules and the Financial requirement caseworkers guidance (.pdf).

Unless you are using a loan letter, your documents must show that the full amount of money that you need has been held in an acceptable account for 28 consecutive days up to the date of the closing balance. The account must not have dropped below the minimum amount that you need to show at any time during the 28 day period. In addition, the final date of this 28 day period must not be more than 31 days before the date that you submit your Student route application.

Using someone else's bank account

You may be able to use your parent(s) or legal guardian’s bank account as evidence or; your partner’s if you are applying at the same time as them. However, you will need to supply additional documents that meet the requirements, including evidence of their relationship to you. It is not possible to use the account of another family member or friend. It is important for you to read the UKCISA guidance on using a parent or legal guardian’s funds if this is what you hope to do.

Low-risk applicants and the differential evidence requirement

If you have a passport issued by one of the countries or territories listed in Appendix Student of the Immigration Rules you will be treated as a ‘low-risk’ applicant by the Home Office. You should not submit your financial documents, academic or English language qualifications or translations (if applicable) when you submit your Student route application. However, you must ensure that you have this evidence available in the required format and provide it to the Home Office (UKVI) by the deadline given if they request it.

ATAS certificate - some Postgraduate students

Some of our PhD students require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate, depending on your subject. It usually takes 20 to 30 days to obtain an ATAS certificate from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

If you are a new Essex student, Admissions will let you know if you need an ATAS when assessing your eligibility for a CAS.

If you need to extend your Student immigration permission to finish your current course, or you have changed course and now require ATAS clearance, you will need to obtain a new ATAS certificate before we can issue you with a CAS.

Visit the FCDO website for more information about ATAS requirements and to apply, and read our ATAS page.

Tuberculosis (TB) test

If you're coming to the UK for more than six months and are a resident of any of these listed countries, you are required by the UK government to have a TB test. If your test shows that you don’t have TB, you’ll be given a certificate which is valid for six months from the date of your x-ray. Include this certificate with your UK visa application.

You shouldn’t need a TB certificate if:

  • you’ve been in the UK for at least six months and are applying to extend your visa from inside the UK
  • you're applying overseas and have lived for at least six months in a country where TB screening isn't required by the UK


Any document not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by an official translation. Read the UKCISA guidance about evidence to find out more.

Prepare for your interview with the Home Office

After you have submitted your Student route application online, the Home Office may require you to attend a short credibility interview. This is intended to help satisfy the Home Office that you are a genuine student and that your English language ability is as stated on your CAS.

You are highly likely to be interviewed if you are overseas especially if you are from countries where the Home Office believe there is a high level of fraudulent activity. Interviews are usually via Skype (or similar) but could also be in-person.

During your interview a member of Home Office staff will ask you several questions including about your course, your reasons for studying in the UK and in particular, what made you decide to study with us rather than another institution offering similar courses. They may also ask questions about the area you are going to be living in.

You may be asked to attend further interview(s) with a caseworker. If the Home Office caseworker isn’t satisfied that you are a genuine student, your application would be refused on credibility grounds.

We recommend you take time to prepare for your interview and have put together some guidance that we hope will help you.

When and where you can apply

Once you have read the UKCISA guidance, gathered all the evidence and are sure you are eligible to apply and your CAS is correct, you can get ready to submit your Student route application online.

We will have asked you where you were intending to make your Student route application as part of our CAS process. If you have changed your mind about where you would like to apply, you must contact us before you submit your application, we will need to make sure you can apply where you would like to and make amendments to your CAS if necessary.

If you're applying overseas

  • The earliest you can apply is 6 months before the start date of your course. For example, if your course start date is 1 October on your CAS, you must not apply before 1 April or your application will be rejected as invalid and;
  • Your CAS will be valid for a maximum of 6 months from the date of issue or until it is withdrawn, made obsolete or is used.
  • You can only apply in a country where you are resident, you cannot be a visitor.
  • A standard application will take a minimum of 15 working days from the date of your biometric appointment, to be considered by a caseworker. This can be significantly longer during busy periods or if additional checks are required so make sure you apply as early as you are able. The university has no influence over this.

Read the UKCISA guidance, 'Applying for a Student visa outside the UK' for more information and guidance and contact their Student advice line or an immigration lawyer if you have any questions.

If you're applying inside the UK

It’s not always possible for students to make their application inside the UK due to the requirements of the Immigration Rules. Read the UKCISA guidance ‘Can you apply in the UK?' to make sure you can. If you are unsure seek advice from UKCISA’s student advice line or from the Student Union’s SUAdvice service.

  • The earliest you can apply in the UK is 3 months before the course start date on your CAS.
  • If you will starting a new course you will usually have to have completed the previous course first and there must not be a gap of more than 28 days between the day your current visa expires, and the course start date stated on your CAS.
  • You must be able to submit a valid application before your current visa expires.
  • A standard application is likely to take up to 8 weeks to be considered by a caseworker. The university has no influence over this.

Read the UKCISA guidance 'Applying for Student permission inside the UK' for more information and guidance.

We recommend you seek immigration guidance and advice from the Student Union’s SUAdvice service who can advise you about making an application inside the UK. They offer workshops and document checking appointments.

If your most recent immigration permission has already expired or you will not be able to apply before it expires, seek immigration advice immediately from SUadvice and contact Admissions if you are due to start a new course or, the International Services team if you are registered and your course has started. Please be aware that you are highly unlikely to be able to remain in the UK to apply and may not be able to study as planned.

If you aren’t eligible to make an application inside the UK, you will need to apply overseas, provided you are eligible.

What else you need to know to complete your application form

RQF course level

When you complete your application, it will ask you for the RQF level of the course you are going to be studying and if applicable, for previous study. RQF has replaced NQF. Your CAS statement and previous qualifications may state NQF, the value is the same so for example, if your CAS or qualification states QCF_NQF 7 you should input RQF7.

Make sure your CAS is correct and this is course you wish to study. If it needs amending do not apply, contact the team that issued your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies).

Your BRP collection location

If you’re studying for more than 6 months, you’ll be asked to select the location from which you wish to collect your BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) after you’ve arrived in the UK. The location you should select will depend on which campus you’ll be studying at:

  • Colchester or Loughton Campus: ACL 2HE557 University of Essex, c/o Tier 4 Compliance Team, Colchester. Please don’t select the University of Essex International College.
  • Southend Campus: Southend-on-Sea Post Office, SS1 1LL. Please don’t select the University.

Read our guidance about collecting your BRP when you arrive in the UK.

Your UK address

If you haven’t arranged your accommodation but will be staying in campus accommodation, you can put your campus address. Once you're in the UK and know where you will be living, you will need to tell the Home Office your new address.

Paying for NHS healthcare (Immigration Health Surcharge)

Most students have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for the whole duration of their visa (including the time before and after your course). You will pay when you make your application unless you’re exempt, exemptions include UK Government Scholarship students (Chevening, Marshall and Commonwealth).

You can calculate how much it will be before you apply, you’ll need to enter the course start and end dates shown on your CAS statement.

The fee for the Immigration Health Surcharge will increase from February 2024. Student applicants will now be charged £776 per year (previous fee £470) and for Graduate route and Graduate route dependant applications, the cost will increase to £1035 per year (previous fee £624). All immigration applications submitted on or after 06 February 2024 will be subject to the increased charge. UKCISA have provided further information about the price increase on their webpages.

For further guidance about the Immigration Health Surcharge including, who doesn’t have to pay and when you may be eligible for a refund read the government website.

Can I get help with my application?

If you are inside the UK

If you’re applying for permission to stay from inside the UK you can book a workshop and have your documents checked by experts in the Student Union’s, SUAdvice service. More information can be found on the SU website.

Alternatively, you can call the UKCISA student advice line or seek advice from an immigration lawyer.

If you are overseas

We are unable to check entry clearance applications and documents for you. You should find all the information you need and answers to your questions within this webpage or on the UKCISA website. You can call the UKCISA student advice line or seek advice from an immigration lawyer if you need to.

If you have a question that is specific to your CAS, your course or studying at Essex you can contact:

  • Our Admissions team via our online enquiry form if you are starting a new Essex course, or;
  • Our International Services Team via our online enquiry form for current students who are continuing the same course.

Please note, if our advisers can’t answer your enquiry you may be referred to UKCISA or an immigration lawyer.

If you have a query after submitting your Student route application online

If you think you have made a small mistake in your application form, you can contact UK Visas and Immigration.

If you are worried that you have made a significant mistake or might not be able to show you meet the requirements or you want to withdraw your application, we recommend you seek immigration advice from an immigration lawyer, UKCISA student advice line or from the Student’s Union’s SUAdvice service if you are applying inside the UK.

When to travel to the UK if you are applying overseas

When you have received your passport containing your entry clearance vignette (visa sticker) or, if applicable, you have been issued with digital immigration status, you’ll be able to arrange your travel to the UK. The Home Office advise against booking non-refundable travel until you receive the outcome to your Student route application.

Do not travel before your Student visa is issued and valid. You can check the valid from date on your entry clearance sticker or digital immigration status, do not arrive in the UK before this date. If you arrive before your Student permission is valid, you may be refused entry or may be entered as a visitor and won’t be allowed to study.

Once you have received the UKVI decision, you will have things to do; read our Student route outcome page to find out what you should do next.

Read our Coming to the UK page to find out what you should do before you travel and upon arriving in the UK.

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