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Understanding the short-term UK student visa

There are a million reasons to study in the UK - its unique and diverse culture, spectacular food, and world-class education system. But before you get ahead of yourself, you need to know that UK study requires getting a visa. Here, we'll take a look at the short-term student visa.

As the name implies, the short-term student visa only lasts for a brief period of time, namely six to 11 months depending on the circumstances (which we'll get to in a moment). As the name implies, this visa is only valid for a short period of time, and can not be extended once this time is up.

It's very important to note here that you're not allowed to work (including on work placement or work experience) or carry out any business while you're on this visa. Also, you can't bring family members (or 'dependants') with you. They are required to apply separately for a visa.

What can you do while in the UK with this visa?

You can undertake a short course of study at a UK institution - this means summer school programmes and English language courses. The UK has tons of summer schools available every year - some offer intensive study programmes and some even link to degree study at a later date.

What you decide to do can have a huge impact on the duration of your visa. If you're 18 and over and enrolled in an English language course, you're allowed to remain in the country for 11 months. For other courses or a short period of research (if you meet the aforementioned age requirement), you're restricted to just a six-month stay.

Next thing to remember is you must apply online for a short-term study visa. But you'll also need to head to a visa application centre to get your fingerprints and photograph taken. Visa fees vary according to duration. A six-month visa will cost you £89, and an 11-month visa will set you back £170.

Of course, your first port of call is to ensure you're even eligible for the visa in the first place! For this you'll need to prove that you've been offered a place on a UK course, have sufficient funds to support yourself, and can pay for your journey home, so make sure you provide (original) documents that can support you on all these points.

Finally, it pays to apply ahead of time, as visa processing times may vary according to which country you're applying from. Officially, the UK government says you should receive a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. But bear in mind that you can apply for a visa up to 3 months before you visit the UK. So make use of that time.

Even if your visa is approved, make sure to keep copies of all the documents involved in the application process so you are protected when you enter and stay in the country.

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