Visas to Study

International students joining Ashbourne will need to apply for a visa to study in the UK.

UK study visas

International students will need to apply for a Child Student or Student visa to study in the UK. This includes students who are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and are coming to the UK from 1 January 2021.

If you are 16 or 17 and you want to study at an independent school in the UK, you can apply for a Child Student visa. If you are 18 or over, you will need to apply for a Student visa.

Students applying from outside the UK can apply for this visa up to six months before the start of the course. It costs £348 to apply for a Child Student or Student visa.

Students applying from inside the UK can apply for this visa up to three months before the start of the course. It costs £475 to extend or switch to a Child Student or Student visa.

Ashbourne College will continue to sponsor students or child students, including Tier 4 visa holders, who are continuing with their studies at the college through online distance learning, whether they are in the UK or another country.

Application process

Ashbourne will issue students with a CAS (Certificate of Acceptance for Studies) once they have settled their school fees and the college has checked that all application documents meet UKVI requirements. The CAS is a unique reference number that the student must have in order to submit their application, which can be done online.

After submitting the application form online, students will need to pay for the mandatory Immigration Healthcare Surcharge and book an appointment at a VFS Global centre in their country of residence to submit their biometric details and application documents.

EEA and Swiss students will be eligible to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to apply rather than attending an appointment at a visa centre. Using the app, students will need to scan their passport with a biometric chip and upload a photo of themselves.

It usually takes three weeks (15 working days) to receive a decision. VFS Global centres in some countries offer a priority service where an application is processed in five working days at an additional cost.

If the application is successful, students will get a biometric residence permit that they collect after arriving in the UK. They will be issued a temporary visa vignette in their passport to allow them to travel to the UK and this will usually be valid for 30 days. EEA and Swiss nationals will receive a digital immigration status, which they can view and prove online.

Important things to note

Students should check and double check over their application very thoroughly. If the student’s application is incorrect or incomplete it will be rejected. The most common reasons for visa rejection are:

  • Insufficient required funds
  • Funds not maintained for a 28 day consecutive period
  • Application documents not translated or verified
  • Incorrect documents submitted
  • Application submitted too early

Students are required to abide by the conditions of their student visa. Their sponsor is legally required to inform UKVI if the student is not keeping to the conditions of their visa, which include:

  • Not claiming any state benefits (also known as ‘public funds’)
  • Registering with the police if required
  • Working restrictions
  • Informing the college and UKVI of any change in circumstances
  • Attending classes and being in regular contact with the college in case of any absences

Students should remember that their visa has been issued for the purpose of study so if they are not attending classes or if they are engaging in activities that prevent them from studying, their sponsor is obliged to report the student to UKVI and the visa will be withdrawn.

Application documents

Financial evidence

Students must provide financial documents proving they have had the required funds in either their own or their parent’s personal bank account for a consecutive period of 28 days ending no more than 31 days before the date of application. The required funds are the maintenance funds plus any outstanding tuition fees.

Parental consent

Students under the age of 18 are required to provide written consent from their parent(s)/legal guardian(s) to travel to and from the UK, use their funds and confirm their living arrangements in the UK as part of their application. They must also provide evidence of their relationship with their parent(s) or legal guardian. Acceptable evidence includes a birth certificate, a certificate of adoption and a court document naming the legal guardian.

English language

Applicants on the Student route must meet a required level of English language ability. This usually means passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider: IELTS for UKVI or Pearson PTE Academic UKVI. For a course below degree level, students must obtain a minimum CEFR level B1, which is equivalent to an overall IELTS score of 5.0.

Exemptions apply for nationals of certain countries. Students also do not need to prove their knowledge of English if they have proved their level of English in a previous visa application. EEA and Swiss students are not required to provide evidence of their English language ability.

TB testing

UKVI requires that a tuberculosis certificate be submitted for applicants from certain countries. A list of these countries can be found here. The test must take place at an approved clinic and UKVI will not accept a certificate from any other clinic. A certificate will usually be issued on the same day and must be submitted as a supporting document for the visa application.

Evidence used to obtain CAS

Students must submit all evidence that they used to obtain their place at Ashbourne, for example, school report, personal statement or original certificates of any qualifications completed. Please note that no evidence is required for the admissions test, interview or any artwork that was submitted to us.

Any documents not in English must be translated from a professional translator or translation company that can be independently verified by the Home Office.

EEA and Swiss nationals qualify for differentiation arrangements when they apply for their visa and most students will not need to provide evidence to support the application except for the passport, which will be used to verify their identity via the app. Nevertheless, UKVI reserve the right to request to review the application documents so they must always be prepared in advance.

Visas for Online Distance Learning

As a sponsor, Ashbourne will continue to sponsor students or child students, including Tier 4 visa holders, who are continuing with their studies at the college through online distance learning, whether they are in the UK or another country.

International students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses, however, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the UK Home Office will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing visa students in the UK or those who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies.

New international students who have been issued permission under the Student or Child Student routes but have been unable to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning, and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.

New international students who have not yet applied for permission under the Student or Child Student routes but wish to commence a course by distance learning do not need to travel to the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship.
Students accessing courses below degree level via distance learning are not required to meet the 15 hours study per week to be considered full-time, if the sponsor is unable to provide sufficient tuition during this period. Ashbourne will make all efforts to provide the stipulated number of hours of teaching where possible.

Validity of CAS previously issued

Where a CAS (Certificate of Acceptance for Studies) was issued between 24 January and 31 July 2020, Student and Child Student applications can still be made using CAS that were previously issued. The start date for the course may now be later than that stated on the CAS for the original course or the CAS may have expired. The UK Home Office will take a pragmatic approach to considering applications to study courses with significantly different start dates to those stated on CAS or expired CAS

Where a CAS has become invalid because it has expired, or was marked as ‘used’ in an application and the student was unable to travel due to Covid-19, the Home Office will consider exceptionally accepting that CAS with a new Visa application on a case-by-case basis. The CAS will be accepted if the caseworker is satisfied that the reason the student could not previously use it in an application or travel to the UK was due to Covid-19.

Police registration

Students who are required to register with the police as a condition of a grant of permission to stay, or who need to notify the police of a change of circumstances, should check with their local police force whether it is possible to register with them at this time. Where it is not possible, students must register with the police or update their information once social distancing measures are lifted.

Students who have already registered with the police and are making a new application in the UK should submit their Police Registration Certificate along with any other documents in support of their application as normal.

Time limits

The maximum period of time from the age of 18 that a student can be granted permission to study in the UK below degree level will remain the same. However, discretion may be applied by UKVI in future where any period of leave that would cause someone to exceed the limit will do so as a result of Covid-19.

Graduate route

The Graduate route is still scheduled to be launched in summer 2021, as previously announced. Further information about the route will be published in due course.

Students will normally be expected to undertake their studies in the UK to be eligible for this route. However, if students are required to either continue their current studies or commence a new course by distance or blended learning due to Covid-19, they will still be eligible to switch into the graduate route on a concessionary basis if they spent some time studying outside the UK.

Students will benefit from this concession if they enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK.

Visa Application Centres and Secure English Language Test (SELT) providers

The majority if Visa Application Centres (VACs) have resumed their services.

Ongoing global restrictions mean some UKVI services will remain closed. Where services are resuming, existing customers will be contacted. Where the VAC in a country remains closed, applicants may be able to make applications from another VAC outside the UK. If an applicant requires permission to come to the UK to study a course, an applicant must obtain permission prior to travelling; applicants cannot travel as visitors and switch into the Student or Child Student routes in country.

Some English Testing Centres are also resuming services. Contact your test centre for more information on where we are reopening and how you can book your Secure English Language Test.

Students whose 90 day visa vignette to study or join family has expired

Students whose 90 day vignette has expired will need to apply for a replacement by completing the online form. The cost of replacing an expired 90 day vignette is £154 and they will need to make an appointment to resubmit their biometric information.

Students are strongly advised to only apply for a new visa, or apply to replace an expired vignette, when they are confident they can travel to the UK. The new vignette will be valid for a period of 90 days. If they cannot travel during this time, they may need to apply again to update their vignette.

Those who have submitted an application for a replacement vignette, and are still awaiting a decision, but now no longer intend to travel, should submit a withdrawal request at the Visa Application Centre that they applied from in order for their passport to be returned.

Further guidance

Visa applications can be frustrating and confusing, particularly if English is not the student’s first language. Students are strongly advised to consult Ashbourne’s visa team on +44 (0) 20 7937 3858 or to discuss any queries that they may have. Equally, students may wish to contact education and visa agents or immigration lawyers in their home country before they apply.

For more detailed information, applicants can access the Student and Child Student visa guidance (pdf) published by the Home Office.

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