Student visa - Applying from outside the UK

The process of applying for a student visa can take up to three months and so it is important to start the process early (you can not apply for a visa earlier than six months prior to the start date of your course).  

The UKVI has produced comprehensive online guidance on how to apply for your student visa.  The guidance is regularly updated and gives full details of the requirements, including the documentation needed to support your application

More guidance is available from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) on Student Immigration and applying for a student visa. 

Before you apply for your visa Ensure you have all necessary documentation prepared, and have completed all the above steps in order to receive your CAS.  Obtain your TB Clearance (Medical screening)
Applying for your visa Apply for your student visa online, uploading documents if requested, confirming where you will be living.  You will need to pay the: 

When applying for your visa you need to select location to collect Biometric Residence Permit (For Keele, you must choose an 'alternative location' and use the code 2HE542.)

Previous visa refusals If you have ever applied for a visa to any country and you have been refused, this is not something to worry about but you must declare them to the UKVI in your visa application and explain why you were refused.  UKVI will not refuse your application for having previous visa refusals to the UK or other countries but they will refuse you if you do not declare them or indicate why you were refused and how your circumstances now are different.
After you apply for your visa

Once you have applied for your visa you will need to have your Biometrics taken at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) and submit documents to visa application.  You may also need to attend a UKVI credibility interview.

Before travelling to the UK
  • Arrange local accommodation if you have not booked your term time accommodation, you should arrange short term accommodation
  • Complete online enrolment and upload a photo for your Student Keele card
  • Download the Keele App

Note: Only set up your Multi Factor Authenticator (MFA) on the phone number / SIM card you will be using in the UK.  If in doubt, seek advice from the IT team when they email you the information for your IT account.

Entering the UK On entering the UK you need to ensure that you: 
  • arrive at Keele by the date stated in your CAS statement and no later than the ‘last date of enrolment’
  • have term-time accommodation that is within a maximum of 90 minutes (by public transport) from Keele
  • collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within 10 days of arriving in the UK (You will only be issued initially with a 90-day vignette, entry clearance 'sticker', in your passport)
Arriving at Keele
  • Complete in person enrolment with your passport and collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and student card from Keele.
  • Engage with the Welcome, Induction, and course activities
  • Pay your student tuition fees with the Income Office
  • Update your term-time address (if you had a temporary address)

Further detailed information

To successfully apply for a student visa, you must score 70 out of 70 points.

This is calculated as follows:

Points Points awarded for Evidence required
50 Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

CAS number issued by Keele University.  This will be emailed to you once you have achieved the conditions of your offer, paid your deposit, and met the specific conditions around visa sponsorship including financial and credibility.

Academic qualifications

These are the academic qualifications that the University used to assess your suitability for the course.  The qualification(s) will be noted on your CAS.

You must include your original certificate or transcripts detailed in the CAS Statement with your visa application.

If you are a low risk national you may not be requested to provide original documents but you must have them available in case they are requested.

Academic progression

If you have studied in the UK previously, your CAS must confirm how the new course represents academic progression from the previous course.  For example, an undergraduate degree (successfully completed) to a postgraduate degree.

If the previous study in the UK is not listed on a CAS, the visa will automatically be refused with no right of appeal.

ATAS certification

If your course requires Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance, you must provide a copy of the certificate issued for the course.

Work placement

If your course has a mandatory work placement that is part of the assessed portion of the programme, the percentage (%) of the work placement in relation to the course start and end date on the CAS must be given.  This information will be present on your CAS.  If it is not, please contact Immigration Compliance and Advice by emailing

10 English language

Your CAS will state how the University assessed that your English language ability is to the required standard.

You must submit the original certificate for your qualification, as detailed in the CAS, with your visa application.

Some students will not need to submit evidence of their English language ability.  If you do not need to submit evidence, your CAS will state that you:

  • are from a UKVI defined majority English speaking country, or
  • have completed a degree from a UKVI approved English speaking country, or
  • have been assessed as suitable by the University's own criteria and methods.
10 Maintenance (funds) 

You will need to demonstrate your ability to fund your tuition fees for the academic year plus a set amount for your living costs.

Your CAS statement will state the full tuition fee payable for the academic year.  The living costs for Keele University are defined as £1,023 per month (for nine months = £9,207).  If you are in Keele University accommodation and have made payments to the University for this, a maximum of £1,334 of this payment can be deducted from your living costs.

The total amount (tuition fee plus living costs) must have been available to you for 28 consecutive days.  This means that the balance in your bank account must not have fallen below the total required amount during the whole 28 day period.  If it is below the required amount, your application will be refused.  The last transaction date (on the bank statement) of that 28 day period must not be more than one month before the date of your visa application.  For more information on please see below.

All documents you provide to demonstrate your maintenance funds must be original.  Electronic bank statements for all types of bank accounts will be considered by the UKVI, however, we advise you to get these stamped as a true copy by your bank and ensure the statements meet the prescribed format.  Further details can be found below.

You may be required to get a certificate to show that you do not have infectious tuberculosis (TB).  There is a cost for this screening and it is your responsibility to meet this cost.  Failure to provide a certificate or medical report when required by UKVI is likely to lead to refusal.  

This UKVI webpage provides details on who needs a certificate or medical report.

The information and guidance on funding that follows is based upon the UK Immigration Rules and student visa requirements.  All funds being used for a student visa application must meet the requirements of Immigration Rules Appendix Finance.

If you are self-funding, this means that you have provided the money yourself, or a member of your family (parent or legal guardian) has provided it.  If you are self-funded, the money must be held in either your bank account or your parent's/legal guardian's bank account.  It cannot be held in anyone else's name, be they either a spouse, relative (brother, sister or cousin) or a friend.  You must ensure that your funds are held in an institution that the UKVI is able to verify.

The bank statement you provide for your visa application must show the following:

  • Your name or your parent's name(s) - if you are using your parent's account, you must provide a copy of your birth certificate with your visa application along with a signed letter from them agreeing to allow you to use these funds
  • The account number
  • The date of the statement
  • The financial institution's name and logo, and
  • The required amount of money available for 28 days in the transaction list

If you wish to use a bank statement printed from an online bank account, the statement must meet the requirements above and be stamped by the bank to confirm that it is genuine.  Electronic bank statements for all types of bank account will be considered by the UKVI, however, we advise you to get these stamped as a true copy by your bank.  These statements must also meet the prescribed format.  You must ensure that the date of the closing balance on the statement is no more than one month before you submit your application.  If the money is being held outside the UK, you must ensure the exchange rate does not cause it to drop below the required amount.  Please use the UKVI-approved exchange rate convertor OANDA to confirm this.

UKVI have recently issued additional guidance for cases where there are large amounts of money recently deposited into accounts for the purpose of demonstrating the funds available.  They state that it can be helpful for the applicant to provide a covering letter with their application explaining the source of these funds.  While it is not a requirement in the Immigration Rules, it will help to prevent delays with the consideration of your application by the UKVI caseworker if they need to make a credibility assessment under the Genuine Student requirement.  If this applies to your situation, we ask that you provide this covering letter, explaining the source of the funds, to ensure your application is processed as quickly as possible.

Sponsored students

If you are a student that is sponsored for living expenses and/or tuition fees by an official financial sponsor, you will not need to show the sponsorship amount in your bank account.  An official financial sponsor is His Majesty's Government, the student's home government, the British Council, an international organisation, international company (the UKVI requires an international company to be a company with a trading presence / registered office in more than one country), a university or UK independent school.  For a visa application, an official financial sponsor is not a spouse, friend, family member, NHS hospital, foundation trust or organisation.  Instead, you will need to obtain a letter from your financial sponsor confirming how they are supporting you.  This letter must be recently dated (a copy of which must be sent to Admissions prior to your Visa & Confirmation Checklist), on official letter-headed paper and must contain:

  • your name
  • name of your official financial sponsor
  • contact details of your official financial sponsor
  • length of financial sponsorship
  • a statement confirming that your financial sponsor will cover all fees and living costs (if applicable)
  • a statement confirming that the sponsorship is for Keele University and for your course of study

If your sponsorship is for tuition fees only and does not include living expenses, you will need to provide a bank statement, as per the requirements at the top of this section.  This is because you will have to demonstrate that you have the funds available to meet your living costs.

If you are entering the UK to study at postgraduate degree level or specific integrated undergraduate courses in certain subject areas, you may require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate.  At Keele University, this will mainly apply if you are undertaking a Research degree.  If you require an ATAS certificate, your research institute should inform you of this during the admissions process.

ATAS is a requirement for any student who is not a UK National, a national from the list of exempt countries or does not have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, regardless of tuition fee status.

ATAS is based on the Common Aggregation Hierarchy Code (CAH3).  You will need the full CAH3 code to apply for your ATAS certificate.  At the University, the CAH3 code you will be assigned will relate to the specific research area you propose to undertake rather than just your course title.

An ATAS clearance certificate must be provided to the University before you will receive a Visa & Confirmation Checklist (Pre CAS), along with payment of your tuition fee deposit / provision of financial documentation and any other outstanding conditions of your offer.  This is also applicable for visiting research students who require ATAS, as no supporting documents will be issued until an ATAS certificate is provided.

If you already have a visa to be in the UK, such as Skilled Worker, PBS Dependent or spouse visa, or you are planning to switch to one of these immigration routes, you will also need ATAS clearance before you can study at the University on one of these visas (please note, this is not an exhaustive list of immigration routes).  You will not be enrolled onto your course of study until an ATAS is provided.

The ATAS certificate has two timeframes:

  1. the 'active' six month timeframe, which exists solely to serve as a deadline for students to complete their visa applications.  Once this process is finalised, the active element of the certificate falls away. 
  2. the 'inherent' timeframe, which covers the student's studies for the duration of time given in the online application form.  The course start and end dates, which are provided by the University upon admission, are entered into the application form by the student at the time of applying.  The ATAS certificate is subsequently valid for the duration of time provided on the CAS.

Once the certificate is issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), the only time a student should need to submit a new ATAS application will be to support: a new visa application; changes to their studies or research during the study period; extending their studies by a period of more than three months; changes to their UK visa (Immigration status).

UKVI recommend that you apply for a new ATAS certificate at least four months in advance of any visa application.  Once granted, an ATAS certificate is valid for six months from the date of issue and must be valid at the point of submission of a visa application.

For more information about ATAS and how to apply, please visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.  Your supervisor and research institute can assist you in applying for a new ATAS certificate.  As soon as a new ATAS certificate is received, please send a copy to 

A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a document issued by the UKVI to students (and their dependent partners and children) as evidence of their immigration permission (also known as 'Leave to Enter' or 'Leave to Remain').

Your BRP will include the following personal information:

  • Your name, date and place of birth
  • Your fingerprints and a photograph of your face
  • Your immigration status and any conditions of stay
  • Whether you can access public funds (such as state benefits)

Biometric Resident Permit (BRP) for Entry Clearance

Anyone who applies for a visa outside of the UK for leave that exceeds a period of six months will only be issued with a 90-day vignette (entry clearance 'sticker') in their passport.  You will then need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within ten days of arriving in the UK.  You can choose to collect your BRP from the University or a specified Post Office.  You will select the collection location when you submit your visa application. 

How do I get my BRP?

Keele University has a special arrangement with UKVI to distribute BRPs to students and you will be given your BRP after you have enrolled on your course and once we have received it.  To choose to collect from the University, there is a specific code to use on the visa application website as an 'Alternative Collection Location'.  This allows the UKVI to send your BRP to Keele for you to collect.  The specific BRP collection code is also included on your CAS statement.  Please remember, when selecting the BRP collection location, you must choose an 'alternative location' and use the code 2HE542.  At Keele, we receive daily deliveries of BRPs and will notify you when it is ready for you to pick up.

Alternatively, the closest collection location to the University is the Post Office in Wolstanton (approximately four miles away).  To select this location, you will need to use the University's postcode ST5 5BG on the visa application website, however, you will need to arrange your own transport to this Post Office and you will not be able to participate in any teaching or start your studies without your BRP.  Note that a Post Office will only receive BRP deliveries once per week and they will not notify you when it is ready.

To collect your (and your dependent's) BRP, you will need to bring your original passport with the 90-day vignette and also your visa application decision letter from the UKVI.  To collect the BRPs of any dependents, you must bring the decision letter and your passport along with the decision letter and passports for all dependents.  Without both the decision letter and the passport containing the entry clearance sticker 'vignette', you will not be issued with your BRP nor that of any dependents.

When you receive your decision letter and 90-day vignette following your visa application, you must email a scanned copy of both of these to 

All of the documents you submit to support your visa application must be original.  If any documentation is not in English, a certified translation must be provided with the original.  You may be required to submit the following documents:

  • a current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and pay for your course and / or a letter confirming any official financial sponsorship
  • a valid ATAS certificate if your course and nationality require it
  • qualification certificates or transcripts
  • your tuberculosis test result

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.  Further guidance can be found in the UKVI guidance here.

Low risk applicants

Some students are not required to submit evidence of qualifications or finances when making a visa application.  The UKVI calls this 'differentiation arrangements' for 'low-risk applicants'.

Low-risk applicants can be identified as being nationals of the countries or territories listed in paragraph ST 22.1 of Appendix Student of the Immigration Rules.

We strongly encourage you to prepare evidence of your qualifications and your finances, even though you are not required to submit them.  This is because the UKVI can request this evidence at any time while considering your application and will refuse your application if you cannot provide them by the given deadline when they are requested.

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a fee that has been introduced by the UK Government requiring all those applying for a UK visa to pay an upfront fee to have access to health services in the UK.  The IHS must be paid at the time of the visa application and it is calculated for a student (and each dependent) as £776 per year for the length of time on the student's visa.  For example, a one-year postgraduate taught student would need to pay £776 and a postgraduate research student on a four-year programme would need to pay £3,104 when making a visa application.  This amount is in addition to the visa application fee.  The IHS must not be deducted from the funds available as evidence of the ability to pay your tuition fees and living (maintenance) costs.  Note that the student IHS fee is cheaper than the standard adult IHS fee of £1,035.  If you are in the UK for less than six months and you're applying from outside of the UK, you do not need to pay the IHS fee.

The UKVI routinely conduct credibility interviews so you may be asked to attend an interview with an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) to discuss your motivations for studying in the UK.  You will be invited to attend an interview by email, so be sure to check your email (including your 'junk' folder) regularly as your application is likely to be refused if you are asked to attend an interview and then fail to do so.

Preparing for your interview

First of all, you should review the personal statement you submitted with your application to study at Keele.  You should also review the course information, either in the online prospectus, course list, or for undergraduate students, the course information document provided with your offer of admission.  If you are an undergraduate student and you did not receive this information, please contact the Admissions Team by email at  Postgraduate students should refer to the University's online course information.  You will find that you have already answered a lot of the questions you are likely to be asked.  Here are the key things you should be able to tell the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO):

  • why you chose to study in the UK
  • why you chose to study at Keele University
  • why you chose the particular course you are going to study, including consideration given to the modules that you will be taking for the course
  • how the course will benefit your career or future plans
  • what your plans are after you finish your studies
  • how you will be funding your studies (more detailed guidance can be found below)

You will need to be very clear about how you are planning to fund your studies.  This is particularly important if your family or employer is sponsoring your studies.  The ECO will need to understand both why and how they are able to fund your studies.  Please remember that working rights with a student visa are limited to a maximum of twenty hours per week (although some employers may offer you fewer hours than this) during term-time and so you should not be planning to work in the UK to fund your studies.

The interview

In many ways, your credibility interview is like a job interview.  These tips would apply in both cases:

  • know where and when you are expected to attend and don't be late
  • pause before answering, respond with consideration
  • be aware of your body language, and try to stay relaxed
  • listen carefully to the question so you do not misunderstand what is being said
  • ask for clarification if you need it
  • don't talk too much - you can always pause and ask if they require further details
  • don't simply answer yes or no
  • give yourself time to think before answering, you don't need to jump straight into an answer

Three points to remember for an interview

Be confident in your choices - you are investing a lot of time and money into your education in the UK, so it is important that you are confident in the choices you have made.  If you seem uncertain in your responses, this may make the ECO think that you are uncertain about your studies.

Be comprehensive in your responses - answer questions fully and give all of the information requested.  You have already been through a considered decision process in choosing the UK, our University, and your course, so be ready to explain this process in full.

Be consistent with your information - even if the ECO asks you the same question twice, or in a different way, remain straightforward and consistent in your answers.  You know why you want to study in the UK.

The ECO knows that English may not be your first language, so it's OK to take your time while you think through your responses and process how to answer them in English.  You do not need to rush through your interview - it is more important that you provide complete and accurate responses.

If you are a 'low risk' student you may not be invited to an interview.  To check if you are a low risk national, please click here.

Once you have a decision on your visa application, you must send a scanned copy of the decision letter by email to  The University will send you an automated email based upon the UKVI's database when we notice a change in the status of your CAS / visa application.

Visa refusals

If you satisfy the points required for an application and submit the required evidence, you should expect that your student visa will be granted.  However, if you have not provided the University with accurate information and details of previous study in the UK, your visa may be refused.  It is therefore very important to make sure that you get your application right first time.

If you do not submit all the original documents that are required, the UKVI will not contact you to ask for missing documents.  An incomplete or incorrect application will be refused.  If your application is refused, you must send a copy of your refusal letter to

There is no right of appeal against a student visa refusal.  If your visa application is refused and you wish to rebut the UKVI's decision, the only option is to submit an Administrative Review.  When you send your refusal notice to us, we will assess the refusal and advise accordingly.