Child Student Visa Application Guide
The Child Student visa route is for students between the ages of 4 and 17 who wish to study at a UK independent school. A student wishing to use this route should have already obtained a place at a suitable school and will need to score points for study and finances under the Immigration Rules.
In this article we will explore who can apply in the Child Student visa route and what is required by the Child Student visa rules.
Child Student Visa: The School and Course
Child Student applicants will need to score 50 points for their course of study, meaning that they must meet all of the following requirements regarding the school and course they wish to study.
Aged between 4 and 17
The applicant will need to be between 4 and 17 years old on the date the application for a Child Student visa is made.
Independent School and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies
The applicant should have secured a place at a UK independent school. Applicants cannot use the Child Student visa to study at an academy or a local authority funded school.
The school should also be a licensed student sponsor. These are Home Office approved institutions which can provide an official Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) letter. A list of licensed sponsor institutions is available here. Not all independent schools will necessarily be licensed student sponsors, so it may be worth checking with a school or on the linked list before making an application, to find out whether they sponsor Child Students.
The CAS will contain specific information about the school and course, such as the course duration and fees. Once an applicant has obtained a place at a suitable school, they should make sure to request a CAS letter from the school, as this will form an integral part of the Child Student visa application. However, the CAS letter must have been issued within 6 months of the application being made, so should not be requested too far in advance either.
The Immigration Rules for Child Student visa applications also require that the course be taught in line with either the national curriculum or another recognised standard, e.g. the independent schools education inspection standard. In reality, any licensed student sponsor will teach their academic courses in line with a recognised curriculum or inspection standard, but this requirement would for example exclude many residential summer courses run by independent schools.
This Child Student visa route may be used to study an English Language course, but only if the applicant is over 16.
This Child Student visa route may not be used to apply to study a foundation course to prepare for university, however, Child Student applicants are permitted to do a pre-sessional course before beginning the course they are applying to study. A pre-sessional course will typically run for a few weeks and is designed to help students practice their English and adapt to the new education system, before beginning their course proper.
Parental Consent and Accommodation
The Child Student visa applicant must also provide a letter of consent from both their parents, their legal guardian, or one parent if that parent has sole legal responsibility for them. This letter must confirm support for the application, the applicant’s travel arrangements and their living and care arrangements while in the UK.
While living in the UK many Child Students will live as boarders at their schools, however, a Child Student may also live with a close relative or private foster carer, provided that person is a British citizen or has settled status in the UK. If a Child Student is planning to live with a close relative or foster carer, they must also provide a signed and dated letter from that carer, called a letter of undertaking. This should give details such as the carer’s address, confirmation that they agree to the care arrangements and information about their relationship with the applicant.
Child Student Visa Financial Requirement
Applicants for permission to enter the UK as a Child Student will also need to score 20 points for finances, by showing that they have access to sufficient funds to cover their period of study.
Applicants for leave to remain as a Child Student, who have been in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer on the date that they apply, are not required to show funds as they are considered to have already met the financial requirements.
Applicants for permission to enter as a Child Student will need to show sufficient funds to cover the outstanding course fees for one academic year, as well as additional funds for accommodation costs. The amount required for accommodation funds will depend on the Child Student’s planned living arrangements in the UK.
If the Child Student plans to board at their school they will only need to show sufficient funds to pay boarding fees for one academic year. Applicants intending to live with a close relative or carer will need to show at least £570 per month to cover accommodation and care costs for each month of the course up to a maximum of nine months.
Child students also have the option to live with a parent who has permission to come to the UK as a Parent of a Child Student. Further details of this category are set out below.
Finally, Child Students who are 16 or 17 may choose to live independently. Students living independently will need to have £1,023 for each month of the course up to a maximum of nine months, or £1,334 per month if they intend to study in London.
Child Students may rely on a student loan or an award from a Government or international scholarship agency for these funds. If relying on private funds the applicant must show that the required level of funds have been held for a 28 day period. This is usually demonstrated by providing bank statements showing the funds being held for the required period.
Evidence of Qualifications for a Child Student Visa Application
All Child Student visa applicants should provide evidence of the qualifications they used to obtain their offer of a place from their student sponsor, in the form of certificates or school transcripts.
This requirement is not mandatory for applicants from some countries, such as the United States and Australia, but it may still be helpful to provide this evidence for 16 and 17 year old students as it will further help an applicant to show they are a genuine student.
Genuine Student Test
Child Student visa applicants aged 16 or 17 years old will also need to show that they are a ‘genuine student’. The Home Office guidance states that a decision maker might consider factors such as the applicant’s education history, commitment to study and the relevance of the course to any post study plans. Decision makers may also consider the ‘pull factors’ which led to choosing the UK as a study destination, for example the reputation of British educational institutions or cultural ties to the UK.
Essentially, the Home Office wants to be sure that applicants are not using the Child Student route as a way to enter the UK for a purpose other than studying, such as access to work.
In addition to grades and transcripts, applicants might also like to include other evidence, for example any research they undertook to compare different courses and schools, their written application to their student sponsor, interviews or exams they undertook to obtain their place, or details of any scholarships they have been awarded.
When to Apply for a Child Student Visa
Applicants for a Child Student visa from outside of the UK can apply up to six months before the start of their course and will usually receive a decision within three weeks. Child Students are permitted to travel to the UK up to one month before the start of their course, but not before the date given on their visa.
Applicants already in the UK can apply up to 3 months before the start of the course and should apply before their current visa expires. The new course they are applying for should also start within 28 days of their visa expiring. These applicants usually receive a decision within eight weeks.
There are priority services available in most countries which offer a decision within five working days. These will incur an extra cost although the shorter time for a decision is not guaranteed.
How Long a Child Student Can Remain in the UK
If the visa is granted a Child Student may remain in the UK for the whole length of their course, if it is less than six years, plus an extra four months at the end. Older Child Students who are 16 or 17 can remain in the UK for the length of their course up to a maximum of three years, plus an extra four months at the end.
It may also be possible for visas to be extended if the Child Student is still eligible to study in the UK.
What You Can Do on a Child Student Visa
Child Students aged 16 or over may work part time during term time up to a maximum of 10 hours per week, and full time during the school holidays. The only restriction on this is that Child Students may not work as a professional sportsperson or entertainer.
Child Students may also work on a work placement if it is part of their course, as long as this does not constitute more than 50% of their course.
Parent of a Child Student Visa
It is possible to obtain a visa to come to the UK as the Parent of a Child Student. This route can only be used by parents whose children are between the ages of 4 and 11 and are applying at the same time for entry clearance as a Child Student.
This route can only be used where the Child Student’s other parent is not already in the UK or seeking to come to the UK, and.
An applicant for the Parent of a Child Student visa route must intend to live with the Child Student during their stay in the UK. In addition to sufficient funds to cover any outstanding school fees the Parent of a Child Student will need to have £1,560 per month for each month of the course up to a maximum of nine months, plus an additional £625 per month for any other children, for example siblings, who they will be caring for in the UK.
The Parent of the Child Student must show that they do not intend to make the UK their main home and must therefore also show sufficient funds to maintain their main home outside of the UK.
A separate article setting out the full requirements of the Parent of a Child Student category is available here.
Contact our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance regarding an application for a Child Student visa, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.