Visas & Immigration

BSA Group immigration support services

If you are coming to study in the UK but are not a UK or Irish citizen, then you may require a UK visa.

Check if you need a UK visa 

International students requiring a visa to study may apply to UK independent schools who hold a sponsor licence. Your school of choice can advise if they hold a sponsor licence. State boarding schools are not permitted to sponsor international students.

Most BSA boarding schools will require international students to have a UK-based educational guardian.

Please click here to find a list of BSA certified guardians

If you require support from an agent to choose a BSA boarding school our list of certified agents may be able to support you. 

Please click here to find a list of BSA certified agents

You can apply for a Child Student visa if you’re between 4 and 17 years old and you want to study at an independent school in the UK.

You must:

If you’re 18 or over, apply for a Student visa instead.


Visa Application Support

The Legal team at BSA Group specialises in UK immigration matters, including providing full support in Child Student and Student visa applications. Navigating the complexities of the UK immigration system can be overwhelming; our expert legal support eases this burden, ensuring a smooth start to the international student journey.

Our comprehensive Child Student / Student Visa application service includes:

  • Liaising with sponsor school to ensure the right visa route is selected
  • Full supporting document guidance and review
  • Application form drafting assistance
  • Written legal representations where required
  • Scheduling and managing appointments
  • Uploading documents in correct format to visa application portals
  • Communicating with the Home Office and other involved parties on your behalf
  • Support on important next steps following visa approval
  • Providing ongoing support and advice for any queries you may have.

When to apply

When you can apply depends on whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.

Applying from outside the UK

The earliest you can apply for a visa is 6 months before you start your course.

You’ll usually get a decision within 3 weeks.

Applying from inside the UK

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before your course starts.

You must apply before your current visa expires. Your new course must begin within 28 days of your current visa expiring.

You’ll usually get a decision within 8 weeks.


How long you can stay

How long you can stay depends on your age on the date you apply and the length of your course.

Age when you apply How long you can stay
Under 16 Course length (up to 6 years) plus 4 months afterwards
16 or 17 Course length (up to 3 years) plus 4 months afterwards

When you can travel to the UK

You can arrive up to 1 month before your course starts, but no earlier than the start date given on your visa.

Staying longer in the UK

You may be able to:


It costs:

  • £490 for Child Student Visa from outside the UK
  • £490 to extend or switch to a Child Student visa from inside the UK

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

How much you pay depends on how long your visa lasts. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

What you can and cannot do

You can study at an independent school.

If you’re 16 or over you can work:

  • part-time during term for up to 10 hours per week
  • full-time during vacations
  • on a work placement as part of your course (but not for more than 50% of your course)

You cannot:

  • study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school) or further or higher education institution
  • get public funds (benefits)
  • take a full-time permanent job or be self-employed
  • work as a professional sportsperson (for example a sports coach) or entertainer
  • apply for settlement
  • bring family members (‘dependants’) – if a parent wants to accompany you, they’ll need to apply for a Parent of a Child Student visa

If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Child Student visa.

For further information, please visit

If you are applying to study at an Independent school on the Isle of Man, please click here for the immigration rules.

If you are BSA member school and require immigration support please click here.

Get In Touch Today!

Our skilled and friendly team are ready to answer all your questions and to fully support you during your visa application process. Contact our team today for advice and support.