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The US and UK Visa Application Process for English Language Students

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If you’re looking for an English language learning centre in the UK or USA, you are likely to need a visa. 

The application process for an English language learning visa is often complex and should not be taken lightly. Depending on the country, different requirements may apply. It is important to note that the visa application process can be complex and time-consuming, and it is recommended to begin the process well in advance of your intended travel date.  

In the United States, applicants need to prove they have sufficient funds to cover all necessary expenses while in the USA, including tuition fees and living expenses. Additionally, applicants must also show that they possess sufficient English language proficiency to benefit from their studies.  

It is important to ensure that you have all the necessary documents before submitting your application. Failure to do so may result in delays or even a denial of your visa request. Additionally, it is also important to keep up-to-date with any changes to the requirements as regulations can change over time.  

If you are considering applying for an English language learning visa, make sure that you carefully read and understand the eligibility requirements and follow all of the steps outlined by the relevant embassy or consulate. When in doubt, contact a qualified immigration lawyer for more advice on how to proceed. With proper preparation, you can successfully obtain an English language learning visa and begin your studies abroad.   

Here is a general overview of the steps involved in obtaining a student visa for studying English in the USA and the UK. 


Choose an English language program: Before applying for a student visa, you need to choose an English language program that is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and is approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The school must be authorised to issue the Form I-20, which is a certificate of eligibility for non-immigrant student status. 

Get accepted: Once you have selected a program, you need to apply and get accepted by the program. 

Pay the SEVIS fee: After you have been accepted into a program, you need to pay the SEVIS fee, which is required for all international students on an F-1 visa. 

Apply for a student visa: You can apply for a student visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country. You will need to fill out the online Non-immigrant Visa Application (DS-160), pay the visa application fee, and schedule an interview at the embassy or consulate. 

Attend the visa interview: At the interview, you will need to provide the required documentation, such as your passport, acceptance letter, SEVIS fee receipt, I-20, and financial support documents. 

In the UK, applicants are required to provide evidence of having secured a place at an accredited institution or learning center as well as proof of financial resources enabling them to study and live in the UK without becoming dependent on public funds. Furthermore, they must demonstrate that they are able to understand basic written and spoken English before entering the country.    


You can apply for a Short-term study visa to study English language in the UK for English language courses lasting longer than 6 months and up to 11 months. You can stay in the UK for the length of your course plus an extra 30 days, as long as your stay is no longer than 11 months.

You must be 16 or older to apply.

You must prove that:

✔ you’ve been accepted onto an English language course that lasts 11 months or less and includes no other subjects

✔ your course is with an accredited institution

✔ you have enough money to support yourself without working or help from public funds, or that relatives and friends can support and house you

✔ you can pay for your return or onward journey

If you’re under 18 you must also:

✔ have made arrangements for your travel and stay in the UK

✔ have the consent of your parent or guardian to study in the UK

It costs £200 for a Short-term study visa. You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your online application. It usually costs £470. This is so you can use the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK and is due regardless of any private medical insurance.

Check how much you’ll need to pay before you apply.

 While in the UK, you cannot:

✔ study on any other course or change your course while in the UK

✔ study at a state-funded school

✔ work or carry out any business (this includes paid or unpaid work, work experience or work placements)

✔ extend this visa

✔ bring family members (‘dependents’) with you on this visa

✔ apply for most benefits (public funds) or the State Pension

When you apply you must provide:

✔ a current passport (with a blank page for your visa) or other valid travel document

✔ evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, for example, bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months

✔ details of where you intend to stay and your travel plans – you should not pay for accommodation or travel until you get your visa

✔ evidence that you’ve paid your course fees or have enough money to pay them

You also need to provide:

✔ your tuberculosis (TB) test results, if you’re from a country where you have to take the TB test

✔ contact details for at least one parent or guardian in your home country, if you’re under 18 years old

✔ a certified translation if any documents are not in English or Welsh

You must provide written proof of the course you’re studying. For example, a letter of acceptance from the educational institution stating the course’s name, duration and cost (including accommodation).

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances, such as evidence of your:

✔ permission to be in the country you’re applying from (if you’re not a national)

✔ financial sponsor’s occupation, income, savings or funds that will support your studies

If you’re under 18 you need to provide additional documents if:

✔ you’re travelling on your own

✔ you’re travelling with someone who is not your parent or guardian

You can travel to the UK without an adult (someone 18 or older) but you must have written consent from both parents (or one parent if they have sole responsibility) or your legal guardian. This must confirm they consent to:

✔ your visa application

✔ your living arrangements and care in the UK

✔ your travel to the UK

They also need to provide proof that you have somewhere suitable to live during your stay in the UK, including:

✔ the name and date of birth of the person that you will be staying with

✔ an address where you will be living

✔ details of your relationship to the person who’ll be looking after you

✔ consent in writing so they can look after you during your stay in the UK

Your parent, guardian or school must tell the relevant local authority about your visit if either of the following are true:

✔ you’re under 18 and have a disability

✔ you’re going to be looked after for more than 28 days by someone who is not a close relative (called ‘private foster care’)

You should provide a reply from the local authority if you have one.

If you travel to the UK with an adult (someone 18 or older), you need to identify them in your visa application.

Their name will appear on your visa, and you’ll be refused entry to the UK if you arrive in the UK without them.

You can identify up to 2 adults in your visa application, and your visa will only be valid if you travel with at least one of them.

The adult can apply for a visa at the same time, but you must each complete separate applications.

You must apply online before you come to the UK. The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel to the UK.

As part of your online application, you’ll need to book an appointment at a visa application centre to provide your documents and prove your identity.

Allow time to attend your appointment.

The visa application centre may keep your passport and documents while processing your application.

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision within 3 weeks.

You may be able to pay to get a faster decision. Check if your visa application centre offers faster decisions and other services.

Before you start, check what documents you’ll need to apply.

You can apply for your visa here.

You’ll get a letter containing the result of your application. This will explain what you need to do next.

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