Before you apply for your visa
Answers to your questions about applying for your visa and travelling to the UK.
Nationals of certain countries do not need to apply for a visa for the UK if they will be coming to stay for less than 6 months. Instead, you will request entry to the UK as a Standard Visitor when you arrive.
There is a list of nationalities who DO require a visa at the link below. If your country is NOT on that list, you are a 'non-visa national'. Most non-visa nationals will need to meet with a Border Force official on their arrival to the UK and get a stamp in their passport.
Please ensure you read the full information here about applying for permission as a Standard Visitor.
List of visa nationals (you will need to scroll down and click 'Appendix 2')
Normally, you must apply for your Student visa in your home country, or normal country of residence. The only exception to this is if you already hold a valid UK visa which allows you to extend or switch in the UK. You cannot apply for a Student visa in the UK if you have standard visitor or short-term student status.
If you hold a valid UK visa, you can check whether you can make an application in the UK at the link below.
The UK and the Republic of Ireland are part of a Common Travel Area (CTA); the CTA streamlines arrival to the UK from the Republic of Ireland for most travellers because there is no immigration control between the two countries.
You need to get a visa before travelling to the UK if you are applying under the Student route or if you are a visa national applying under the standard visitor route. If you have obtained a visa from your home country, you can travel via the Republic of Ireland. We recommend that you keep your boarding passes or travel itinerary in a safe place as you will need to evidence your date of arrival in the UK.
If you are a non-visa national and enter the UK via the Republic of Ireland without having secured a visa, you will be given permission to be in the UK for six months from you date of entry to the UK . You will be able to study but employment (paid or unpaid) will not be permitted. We recommend that you keep your boarding passes or travel itinerary in a safe place as you will need to evidence your date of arrival un the UK.
UK airports are now operating E-gates for nationals of the European Economic Area, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States.
If you are a national of one of the above countries, you can use e-Gates but we recommend that you keep your boarding passes or travel itinerary in a safe place as you will need to evidence your date of arrival in the UK.
Find out more about what you need to do when you arrive in the UK at the link below.
Arriving in the UK
A CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) is a 13-digit alpha-numeric reference number which you will need in order to apply for your Student visa. The reference number relates to a record about you and your programme of study which will help the UKVI decide about your visa application. The University will issue a CAS to you:
- Once you have accepted an unconditional offer from the University; AND
- Once you have requested a CAS through your EUCLID portal; AND
- Not more than 6 months before the start date of your programme (or the date that you are required to be on-campus, whichever is the later*)
*If you are already in the UK and you need to make a visa application, please contact us not more than 3 months before the start of your programme
Find out more about your CAS and how to request it at the link below.
Normally you cannot travel to the UK before the start date of your visa, as you must enter after the start date in order to ‘activate’ your Student visa status.
However, if you are a non-visa national (you do not need a visa to visit the UK for up to six months), you may be able to enter the UK as a standard visitor before the start of your Student visa. You will have to meet the criteria of the standard visitor route, and you will need to leave the UK and re-enter after the start of your Student visa in order to get the correct permission to study.
It will be the decision of the Immigration Officer at the airport whether to allow you to enter as a visitor before the start of your Student visa.
It will start on whichever is the latest of the following times:
One month before the start of your programme of studies, or the date you are required to be on-campus (or one week, if your programme is less than 6 months long); OR
7 days before your intended date of travel to the UK (as stated on your visa application form); OR
The date on which your visa is granted (if it is granted less than one month before the start of your programme).
This will depend on the length of your programme of studies. Your Student visa will last for the length of your programme of studies, plus:
If your programme is less than six months, one week after the end date of your programme
If you are studying a pre-sessional programme, one month after the end date of your programme
If you are studying an undergraduate programme, or a postgraduate diploma or certificate, of between 6-12 months, 2 months after the end of your programme
If you are studying a programme of more than one year, 4 months after the end date of your programme
This will depend on where you make your application. If you are outside the UK, it normally takes around 3 weeks from when you attend your visa appointment. If you are inside the UK, it normally takes around 8 weeks from the date of your appointment.
The University can issue a CAS up to 6 months before your required attendance date in Edinburgh*.
Once you have accepted an unconditional offer for your programme, you will need to request a CAS through your EUCLID portal:
- Log into your Applicant Hub through EUCLID – you will then be able to see your offer under ‘My Applications’
- Select ‘Open Application’
- Select the link which states ‘Please tell us if you require a CAS.’
- When your CAS is ready you will receive an email to your personal email address asking you to confirm the details.
- Follow the link in that email and log in to your Euclid portal.
- Click on the ‘immigration details’ tab under the personal details, scroll down past your passport and visa and you’ll see your CAS information.
- Check all of the information carefully - if something is not right it could result in your visa application being refused. If everything is correct, click on the green button at the bottom of the immigration details page to send us your confirmation. If there are any issues you can report them using the red button.
Once we receive your confirmation, you will receive your final CAS number within two working days.
*If you are already in the UK, please contact us 3 months before your programme start date to discuss your circumstances as you cannot apply for your visa earlier than this.
Unlike many other countries, the UK does not require that a passport is valid for any particular period of time after arrival in the UK, but it must be valid when you make your application and when you arrive in the UK. UKVI web information for people arriving in the UK does say that your passport must remain valid for the full length of your stay, but this has no basis in any law or guidance and we do not know of any student who has been refused entry to the UK on this basis. It would be very common for someone's passport to expire during a long stay in the UK.
Contact us as soon as possible. Email a copy of all the documents that you received from the UKVI, as well as a full copy of the application you submitted, and your supporting documents to us.
You will need a new CAS before you can make a new Student visa application.
A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is an ID card which contains the details of your immigration permission. It is your ‘visa’ and you will need it to travel outside and re-enter the UK, to show your right to study, and your right to work. It is credit card-sized, and you will need to collect it either from the University or from a Post Office, depending which option you chose in your visa application.
If you have applied for your Student visa outside the UK, you will get a sticker in your passport called a ‘vignette’. This is a document that gives you permission to travel to the UK. It is only valid for 30 days (90 days in some cases), so you must travel within those dates, or you will need to apply for a replacement.
Once you arrive in the UK, you will collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), which contains the full details of your immigration permission.
If you hold an EU/EEA/Swiss passport or national ID card (i.e. you are a citizen), and you moved to the UK before 31 December 2020, you may have already applied for the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). If you have been granted settled or pre-settled status under the EUSS then you do not need a separate visa to study in the UK.
If you arrived/will arrive in the UK after this date, you must instead apply for immigration permission under the Student route if your main purpose for coming to the UK is to study.
EU Settlement Scheme
All students who are registered full time and residing in Scotland for more than 3 months have full access to the NHS.
If you have been granted settlesd or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you will have access to the NHS under this scheme.
If you need to apply for a visa, you will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This will give you full access to the NHS.
This does NOT constitute health insurance. It will only provide access to the UK National Health Service and does not cover healthcare in any other country.
Information for EU/EEA and Swiss students
Normally, if your programme is below degree level, you will need an IELTS for UKVI certificate at CEFR level B1 (at least 4.0 IELTS) in order to apply for your visa. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, certain concessions have been made for students who will be starting their programmes over the next few months.
If your programme is degree level or above, you do not need to have an IELTS for UKVI certificate. The University will make its own assessment of your English language and you do not need to provide any further evidence for your visa application.
You should check your offer letter for details of what the University has used to assess your English language.
Any documents that you will submit with your Student visa application which are not in English must be officially translated by a professional translator. You cannot translate the documents yourself.
You can find the full requirements at the link below.
The IHS is a one-off payment you make with your visa application which gives you access to the National Health Service (NHS), which is the UK’s healthcare system. You will not need to pay any extra for hospital treatment, medication, or visits to the doctor.
The IHS is not health insurance. It allows you to access the NHS but does not cover you in your home country or if you are travelling outside the UK.
Tier 4/Student visa holders who are
studying a postgraduate programme that is 9 months or longer; OR
fully sponsored by their government and studying a programme at any level which is longer than 6 months,
can bring their spouse/civil partner/unmarried partner*, and their children to the UK as their dependants.
(*you must be able to evidence that you have been living together for at least 2 years)
You cannot bring other family members, such as your parents or siblings, as dependants.
There are other, limited, circumstances in which you can bring your children to the UK if you do not meet the above criteria. Please contact us for specific advice on this.
Short-term students cannot bring their family members to the UK as dependants, but they may be able to visit you using a standard visit visa.
The University of Edinburgh does not sponsor students to study part-time using a Tier 4 / Student visa.
If you would like to discuss your options further, please contact us visa this webform.
No. Distance learning programmes do not qualify for the Student visa route. If you need to visit the UK for a short time for study reasons, you may be able to come as a standard visitor.