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Does time in the UK on a student visa count towards ILR and British Citizenship?

The Student Visa has undergone some changes in recent years and has replaced the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. However, immigration restrictions mean time spent in the UK on a Student Visa does not count towards your Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and British citizenship application.

However, those international students who remain in the UK under the Graduate Visa or apply for a work visa after studying are able to accrue time towards minimum UK residency requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship.

For more information about British citizenship and making an application reach out to one of our expert immigration advisers for more information. Call us on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online today.


Student Visa – applying and switching

While the time spent in the UK with a Student Visa will not normally count towards gaining ILR status, you able to switch from the visa to another one that does provide a route to settled status. For example, it is possible to move from a Student Visa to a Skilled Work Visa.

In order to make a visa application to study in the UK you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have an unconditional offer of study from an approved sponsoring institution
  • You must have received a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies from your sponsoring institution
  • You must score at least 70 points on the points-based system
  • Have the relevant academic qualifications needed to take the course and genuinely intend to study in the UK
  • Be able to financially support yourself during your time on the UK (and any family members/dependents who may join you in the country)

The 70-point requirement for a Student Visa

The points system when you apply for the visa is relatively straightforward and if you meet the criteria for being granted a visa then you will meet the required points threshold.

Points are given as follows:

  • 50 points: Receiving a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies
  • 10 points: Meeting the financial requirements to study in the UK
  • 10 points: Demonstrate your English language ability as required by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

What courses qualify for a Student Visa?

In order to be granted a Student Visa then you need to prove your course meets certain criteria. Your planned course of study must be one of the following:

  • Full-time course which will lead to a qualification at below degree level (RQF level 3, 4 or 5) with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study
  • Full-time course which will lead to a qualification at degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8)
  • Full-time course at degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8) which is equal to a UK higher education course
  • Part-time course which will lead to a qualification that is above degree level (RQF level 7 or above)
  • A recognised foundation programme for postgraduate doctors or dentists
  • An English language course which is at the level of B2 as set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and delivered by an approved provider

Cost and timescale for the student visa

The current fees for the student visas are:

  • £348 for applications made outside the UK
  • £475 for application made inside the UK
  • £475 for Student Visa extensions

If you complete your application outside the UK, you can expect to receive a decision within three weeks. For applications made inside the UK you can expect a decision within two months.

Meeting the financial means criteria for Student Visas

To become a student visa holder you must be able to financially support yourself during your time in the UK. You will need to prove that you have money available while you study.

The financial requirements currently set by the Home Office are:

  • £1,334 per month for up to 9 months for courses based in London
  • £1,023 per month for up to 9 months for courses based outside London
  • £2,668 per month four the Doctorate Extension Scheme if based in London
  • £2,046 per month for courses outside London if based outside London

When making your Student Visa application you will need to provide supporting documents, such as a bank statement, showing that you have access to this money for 28 consecutive days, and the end-date of this period must be within one month of the date you apply for the visa.

Required Documents for Student Visas

You can apply for a student visa online and part of the application process will require you to submit a range of documents and evidence. This may include:

  • Current passport or another valid travel document/ biometric residence permit
  • A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies from your course provider
  • Proof that you have the necessary financial means, such as bank statements (if applicable)
  • A valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate if required for your course
  • Tuberculosis test results – this depends on your home country
  • Proof from your sponsor if they have agreed to financially support you for your course fees and living costs during your stay in the UK
  • If you are under 18, you will need to provide additional information including written consent from your parents/legal guardians showing that they consent to your child student visa application, your living and care arrangements in the UK and your travel to the UK.

Any documents which are not in English or Welsh must be translated by an accredited translator.

Which visas can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain?

While a student visa is not a direct path to being granted settled status or Indefinite Leave to Remain, there are a number of other UK visas that do and therefore it may be possible to switch to one of these routes to allow you to stay in the UK after studying. You are advised to seek professional advice on the various options available to being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain to stay in the UK and eventually become a British citizen.

The main visa types that allow you to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain include:

  • Fiancé Visa
  • Spouse Visa
  • Unmarried Partner Visa
  • Family Visa
  • Skilled Worker Visa (formerly Tier 2 General work visa)
  • Innovator Visa
  • Investor Visa
  • Graduate Visa
  • Entrepreneur Visa
  • Start-up Visa
  • Sportsperson Visa
  • Minister of Religion Visa
  • Intra-Company Transfer Visa
  • UK Ancestry Visa
  • PBS Dependant Visa
  • Discretionary Leave to Remain
  • Long Residence
  • Returning Resident
  • Retired Person Visa

Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship

Being granted ILR is a step towards gaining British citizenship as it forms part of the continuous residence requirement of UK immigration rules.

To qualify for British citizenship you must have spent at least five years of continuous residence in the UK and no longer than 450 days outside the UK, as well as having ILR status in the UK for at least one year.

As well as holding ILR immigration status you must also meet the following when applying for British citizenship:

  • Have passed the Life in the UK test
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the English language
  • Not have breached of any UK immigration rules
  • Be able to meet the Good Character requirement

Applying for UK Indefinite Leave to Remain

There are two main forms which are used for ILR applications – Form Set (O) and Form Set (M).

Form Set (M) is the form that needs to be completed when someone applies for ILR as a partner of someone, or parent of a child who is already settled in the UK

For all other ILR applications, Form Set (O) is the form to use. This includes those who have been living under the Investor and Global Talent visas, Long-term Worker visas, Skilled Worker Visas PBS dependants and those on UK Ancestry visas.

Contact us today if you require assistance with your British citizenship application.

How Can IAS Help?

A certificate of British Citizenship is an important document that proves your right to live and work in the UK indefinitely without being subject to any immigration restrictions.

IAS can help. We are expert legal advisers specialising in UK immigration law, with years’ worth of experience helping individuals with their immigration issues. We can help establish your eligibility for a certificate of entitlement, assist you throughout the application process, and even liaise with the Home Office to keep track of your application as it gets processed.

For more information about the services we offer and how we can help you, get in touch with us today on 0333 305 9375, or talk to us online today.

We’re here to help with your British Citizenship immigration issue.

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