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We understand that keeping up with immigration policies can be challenging, and our advisers are dedicated to providing you with the most accurate and current information on our website. However, it's important to keep in mind that changes in policies can happen unexpectedly, and our advisers have no control over them. We want to remind you that it's ultimately your responsibility to ensure that you comply with immigration requirements and verify that any previous advice or information is still valid before taking any action. Please know that we are here to support you through this process.

Effective 1 January 2024, only government-sponsored students pursuing a PhD, doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree will be permitted to bring dependents to the UK.

This means qualifications below a PhD such as a Master's qualification will not be able to bring dependants with them during their studies on a Student Visa. It is important to note that dependents already residing within the UK will be allowed to extend their stay.

Do I need a visa to study at the RCA?

Most international students, including EU students who do not currently live in the UK, will need a Student Visa to study at the RCA.

You will not need to apply for a visa if you:

  • are an Irish national
  • have indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • are an EU national who moved to the UK before 30 December 2020 and have received settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme 
  • have indefinite leave to enter the UK, for example, if you have a Returning Resident Visa.

How to apply for a Student Visa from outside the UK

You can only apply for a Student Visa after the following conditions are met:

  • You hold an unconditional offer to study at the RCA
  • You have paid all deposits due for your programme, and you must have firmly accepted your offer
  • You have been issued a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) number for your visa application

Please note that you may only apply for a Student Visa three months prior to your programme's start date if you are currently in the UK, or six months prior to the start date if you are applying for the visa from outside the UK. We will aim to issue your CAS in line with these dates.

Visit CAS number: frequently asked questions for more information on how and when you will receive your CAS number.

Step 1: Prepare your documents

What documents do I need?

  • CAS: Your CAS number will be provided to you by the College. It confirms that we have made you an offer of a place to study with us, and that you have accepted this. See more about CAS numbers below.
  • Passport: This must be valid on the date you submit your online visa application form and the date on which you plan to arrive in the UK.
  • Financial documents: You need to show that you have sufficient funds to pay for your tuition fees and living expenses for one academic year.
  • Qualifications: All the documents listed in the ‘Evidence used to obtain offer’ section of your CAS statement which include certificates or transcripts of qualifications which were used to assess your suitability for the course, including any English language tests.
  • English language ability: Your CAS will state how your English language ability has been assessed.
  • Financial sponsor’s consent letter: If a government or an international scholarship agency is currently providing financial sponsorship or have provided financial sponsorship within the last 12 months for studies in the UK, they must provide a letter of consent. Financial sponsorship means that all of your tuition fees and living costs covered. The Student Advice Service can provide detailed requirements for the letter.
  • A letter from your parent/legal guardian: if they are supporting you financially, and evidence of their relationship to you
  • TB test result: if you have been residing in a country which requires this. See gov.uk/tb-test-visa for further details.

All documents provided should be in English. Officially certified translations are accepted where necessary.

English language requirements

You will need to provide evidence that you meet the English language requirement for your programme. These vary depending on the programme you are studying at the RCA.

Visit individual programme pages for specific language requirements, and visit English language requirements page to see what qualifications and tests accepted.

How much money do I need?

On the date that you pay for your visa application, you will need to demonstrate that you have living expenses of £1,334 per month for the duration of your studies in the UK, up to a maximum of £12,006, in addition to the tuition fees for your first year of study.

You can show that these funds are available to you in the following ways:

  1. Cash funds in your personal bank account e.g. savings or current account.
  2. Cash funds in your parent’s/legal guardian’s personal bank account. (Birth Certificate & consent letter from parents if you are using their bank statements.)
  3. Official financial sponsorship.
  4. Specific types of student loans

The funds must be in a bank account in your name for a minimum of 28 consecutive days. The bank statement needs to be no more than a month old from the date of your student visa application.  If the evidence is in another currency other than GBP, please use the currency conversion website OANDA to make sure that the funds are at the correct level.

The funds must be readily accessible cash, for example in a current (chequing) account, savings account, or certificate of deposit. You can also supply a bank letter in place of a bank statement.

We have produced a sample bank letter and statements that you may find useful:

Low-Risk Nationals: If you are a national of a country on the Government's 'differential evidence requirement' list, including EU/EEA and Swiss nationals, you are not required to submit evidence to show that you meet the financial requirements or provide your academic qualifications used to obtain an offer of study. You must confirm in your application that you have these documents. The Home Office, will retain the right to request sight of these documents. For the full list visit gov.uk/student-visa/money

Step 2: Complete the online application form

Apply for your Student Visa at gov.uk/student-visa/apply

The visa costs

The cost of visa application varies annually and depends on the location where you apply from. This online tool helps calculate your visa application expenses.

Step 3: Pay your immigration health surcharge

Anyone applying for a Student visa which will last for six months or more must get an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) number. This will give you access to the National Health Service in the UK.

At the end of the online application form, you will be directed to the IHS website which will link your visa application form with your IHS number.

You can calculate how much you will need to pay on the Home Office website. The IHS is an integrated part of the Student Visa application and does not need to be applied for separately. 

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens

As agreed with the EU and Switzerland, the UK Government is launching a new scheme whereby certain eligible EU and Swiss students in full-time higher education may be entitled to a full or partial reimbursement of their Immigration Health Surcharge.

It is important to note, that claiming an IHS Reimbursement will limit your access to healthcare in the UK to only medically necessary treatment covered by your EHIC.

To be eligible for this scheme

  • a UK visa with a start date on or after 1 January 2021
  • be in full-time higher education (level 4+ in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and level 7+ in Scotland)
  • hold a valid EU or Swiss-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • and must not be working or intend to work in the UK

The UKVI encourage all students to consider their circumstances carefully, including their healthcare needs and whether they wish to work in the UK, before deciding whether to apply for a reimbursement.

This is particularly important if you intend to undertake any kind of work during the duration of your Student Visa.

Please ensure you read the guidance below:

Step 4: Attend your biometric appointment

All applicants are required to book an appointment to attend a Visa Application Centre(VAC) to obtain their biometric information and complete the final steps of their visa application. You will book an appointment at your nearest location as part of the online visa application process.

At your appointment, you will provide your fingerprints and a digital photograph. Some applicants will also be required to attend an interview called a credibility interview during their biometric appointment.

Find your local Visa Application Centre here: gov.uk/find-a-visa-application-centre

Step 5: Submit your documents

After you submit your biometrics and complete your interview (if required), you will:

  • Submit your application summary sheet and supporting documents at the VAC during your appointment. You may also have the ability to scan and upload your supporting documents.


  • You will post your application summary sheet, biometric enrolment receipt and supporting documents to the British Embassy. You may have the option to scan your supporting documents instead. Your application form will guide you on the process to follow in your country of application.

Step 6: After your visa has been granted

When you apply from outside the UK, you will be issued a 90-day entry vignette and a letter from the Home Office. The vignette will start from the date that you intend to travel to the UK, as stated on your application form (please note, you can enter the UK up to one month prior to your course of study beginning). When you enter the UK you will need to show the Immigration Official your 90-day entry vignette and the Home Office letter.

Upon entering the UK, you must collect your Biometric Resident Permit (BRP) from the Post Office selected on your student application within 10 days.

  • A BRP is a plastic card similar in size to a credit card. It will show your visa expiry date as well as any restrictions on work and will allow you to enter and leave the UK with restrictions.

Failure to collect the BRP within the required time may result in a fine or your visa being cancelled.

EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals Student Visa

From 01 January 2021 EU, EEA and Swiss citizens coming to the UK from 1 January 2021 to study a course will need to apply for a student visa to study at the RCA.

To enable you to transition to a smoother journey with your visa application most EU, EEA and Swiss citizens nationals will be able to apply and submit and visa application using a smartphone, through the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app, as part of the online application. To do this, you will need a biometric passport and a compatible smartphone. The app is free and is compatible with Android phones and iPhone 7 or newer models. If you do not own a compatible phone, you can use the app from a family or friend’s mobile phone. No information is stored on the phone or app after you close it.

EEA/EU/Swiss Nationals who have passports with a Biometric Chip:

If your passport doesn't have a biometric chip, or you have already applied for your student visa and were told to visit a Visa Application Centre in person, your visa will be granted in a similar way to nationals of countries outside of the EEA/EU

Step 1

  • Have your CAS
  • Apply Online using the UK Immigration ID Check App to scan your face and biometric chip in your passport. You will be asked to create a UKVI account.
  • Check you meet the Student Visa Requirements including Finance Requirements
  • Once you Paid for your application and Immigration Health Surcharge it will take approximately three weeks to get a decision.

Please refrain from entering the UK until your student visa has been granted.

Step 2

  • Once your student visa has been granted, You will be given an electronic visa
  • You will be sent an email from the UKVI with details of:
  1. Your immigration permission
  2. Stating the start and end date of your student visa
  3. The conditions of your visa and that your Sponsor is the Royal College of Art.

Step 3

Your student visa will be linked to your passport.

  • Print a copy of your decision email to show the Border Officers if required

IMPORTANT: When travelling to the UK for the first time using your visa, it is vital that you enter the UK AFTER your Visa Start Date (check your decision email).

If you enter the UK on a date outside of this, you may be denied entry to the UK, or be unable to start your course until you leave the UK and re-enter in the correct period to "activate" your student visa.

  • It is very important that you retain evidence of your entry to the UK. We would recommend that you visit an immigration desk so that you receive an entry stamp on your passport. However, if you use an "e-gate" to enter the UK, you must instead keep your boarding pass to use for your enrolment.

Step 4

  • You will receive an invitation to complete your enrolment

To prove your Immigration Status You will be required to:

  • provide a scanned copy of your passport
  • a scanned copy of your boarding pass
  • a copy of your UKVI decision letter you received when your visa was granted
  • A PDF copy of a "share code" which allows the college to digitally verify your immigration status to this
  • Go to the View and Provide Immigration Status on the government website and complete your details

Part-time Student Visa

Universities are permitted to issue a CAS to sponsor students to study on a part-time postgraduate (RQF Level 7 and above) degree course. 

The UK Government imposes a number of visa restrictions on part-time studies:

Restrictions for Part-time Students

  • No work is permitted at any capacity (including placements or work experience paid or unpaid)
  • You cannot work remotely for an overseas company while in the UK
  • You cannot bring/have any dependants in the UK (such as a visa-dependant partner or children)
  • You cannot switch from full-time study to part-time study without leaving the UK to apply for a new student visa
  • You must meet all visa requirements, including financial and English language
  • Online/remote synchronous participation is not possible for student visa holders

The College’s Sponsor licence responsibilities still apply, including attendance monitoring and reporting duties.

Duration of a part-time Student Visa

You would be granted a visa for the length of your course plus two months if your course is less than a year in duration, or your course length plus 4 months if your course is longer than a year.

Required documents 

Applications can be made online

  • The CAS you have received from the RCA,
  • Passport(s)
  • Original copies of the academic qualifications you have used to obtain an unconditional offer from the RCA. You can submit either your original certificate or original transcript of results. If these are not in English, you must provide 'a fully certified translation' by a professional translator. English language certificate if applicable. 
  • The cost of visa application varies annually and depends on the location where you apply from. This online tool helps calculate your visa application expenses.
  • Financial Evidence (see details below). 
  • NHS Health Charge £470 for each year for the duration of your stay plus 4 months which could include an additional. To find out how much your NHS surcharge will be please click here.
  • A TB Medical Certificate (if applicable): students from some countries are required to have a TB test as part of their visa application process. To find out if this applies to you, check the  Home Office website.

All documents must be original and any documents which are not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a full translation that can be checked by the UKVI.

Financial evidence 

You will need evidence that you can pay for your tuition fees and living expenses of £1334 per month for nine months £12.006 depending on your circumstances. The required funds have to be in your account for a 28 consecutive day period.

  • The bank statements must be addressed to you for past 1 month.
  • Electronic bank statements printed from an internet banking account can be accepted but they will need to be stamped by the bank on every single page.  
  • The statement should also have the bank name and logo, account name & number and the amount available.

We have produced a sample bank letter and statements that you may find useful.

Your Student Visa responsibilities and conditions

Students and universities are required to comply with Home Office requirements under the Student Route of the Points-Based System. 

As a student, if you fail to comply with these conditions it may result in you being reported to the Home Office, which could result in your immigration permission being cancelled. 

The College also has to comply with these conditions. Failure to do so could result in the loss of the HEI Sponsor License, without which the College would not be able to retain current or register new international students.

The following is a summary of the responsibilities of the student and the college. Students are also strongly advised to read Appendix ST: Student immigration rules and the Student Route Guidance for further information.

Remote learning and the Student / Tier 4 Visa

Leave of absence conditions

If you hold a Student Visa, you are not permitted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to pursue your studies remotely. This is because the Student Visa is granted specifically for studying in the UK, and it is mandatory to attend classes, lectures, and supervision meetings on the College campus to comply with UK immigration regulations.

The UKVI has revoked the concessions that permitted remote studying during the Covid-19 pandemic. This means that Student Visa holders are not allowed to study their course from outside the UK unless they have obtained permission for a 'change of study location'.

Note such a change would only be possible in some very limited exceptions for research study leave or formal exchange agreements, which must always be formally agreed by the College in advance.

Absences from study

If you need to leave the UK during your studies (with the exception of holiday periods) you must request a period of authorised absence from your Head of Programme and the Registry Office. This usually cannot exceed 3 weeks of term time. If the absence is authorised, there will be no ramifications on your Student Visa.

Leave of Absence
If you are granted a Leave of Absence from your course, the College is required to withdraw sponsorship of your Student Visa. This will lead to UKVI cancelling your visa and you are expected to leave the UK.
Once you are ready to return to your studies, you can request a CAS and submit a new Student Visa application from overseas. Please note that you cannot use your previous CAS to apply for a new Student Visa. 

Other Student Visa responsibilities and conditions

As a student, you are responsible for:

  • Collecting your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card within 10 days of arriving in the UK 
  • Checking the information on the BRP card is correct
  • Providing the College with a copy of your passport and visa/biometric ID Card
  • Informing the College of any changes to your immigration status or personal details (i.e. address and telephone number)
  • Re-enrolling on your programme on time at the start of each academic year
  • Attending lectures, seminars, tutorials and crits as required for your programme of study. You must inform your Programme Administrator of any temporary absence due to illness etc
  • Informing the College of any intentions to defer, suspend or withdraw from your programme of study
  • Leaving the UK should you defer, suspend or withdraw from your programme of study
  • Keeping up to date with immigration rules, regulations and application requirements
  • Keeping your immigration permission up to date and applying for an extension in good time before your existing visa runs out
  • Complying with your existing immigration conditions (i.e. not working more hours per week than you are allowed)

College responsibilities

The College has the following responsibilities:

  • Issue Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) where it is satisfied that students intend to and are able to follow the programme of study and meet the requirements for obtaining a student visa
  • Taking and keeping copies of students' passports, immigration status documents, visas or biometric ID Cards
  • Keeping up-to-date copies of students' contact details
  • Checking that students have registered on their programme of study and report any student who fails to do so to the Home Office
  • Monitoring each student's attendance and report any unauthorised absence to the Home Office
  • Reporting leaves of absence, suspension or withdrawals of study to the Home Office
  • Reporting any information relating to a student failing to comply with their immigration conditions (i.e. working too many hours or overstaying their visa).

Withdrawal of visa sponsorship

The RCA will normally withdraw the Visa Sponsorship of a student:

  • Whose studies are terminated due to failure to make academic progress
  • Who do not attend and participate in their studies as required for their programme of study
  • Who has taken a leave of absence for medical, academic or personal reasons
  • Those who fail to keep the College up to date and informed as to their immigration status as required
  • Who is found to have failed to comply with the terms of their visa (ie. overstaying or working too many hours)
  • Who are without current leave to remain and have not made an 'in time' application to extend
  • Who has had an application refused by the Home Office and no longer has leave to remain or the right of appeal

If visa sponsorship is withdrawn the student will be de-registered from their course and will not be able to attend College until visa sponsorship has been re-instated.

The RCA is legally required to report all withdrawals of visa sponsorship to the Home Office immediately.

Students then have 60 days in which to leave the UK.

After you arrive

Biometric Residence Permit Cards and Passports:

  • Keep your BRP and passport card in a safe, secure location. Do not carry your BRP card unless you are travelling
  • Make copies of your passport and BRP card, hardcopy or digital is fine
  • If you feel you must carry your BRP card, keep the BRP card separate from the rest of your wallet
  • The RCA is required by the Home Office to keep up-to-date records as your visa sponsor. Please help us by reporting your new address if you move to the RCA intranet web pages

Police registration

Police Registration is no longer required Some students were previously required to register with the Police within seven days of arriving in the UK. However, in early August 2022, it was announced that this requirement has been abolished. This change applies to those who have already registered with the Police and who have a condition to register with the Police listed as a requirement of their visa. You can read the Public Notice announcing this change.

Online Q&A sessions

If you're unsure of your situation or would like to speak to our student support team directly, please join one of our free online Q&A sessions. Dates will be announced soon.

Frequently asked questions

If you have received a refusal after a student visa application, you must inform the Student Support team  and the Admissions team as soon as possible.

Please send a scan of your entire refusal notice paperwork to Admissions and Student Support Office, and individuals in the teams will help you through the next steps.

If you think the refusal was incorrect, based on the evidence you submitted with your application, you may be able to request an 'administrative review' of the decision to refuse it. There is no fee for this if you are submitting an administrative review overseas, but you must request the administrative review within 28 days of the date you receive your refusal notice. Please note that you cannot produce new or different documents for an administrative review. You can readHome Office guidance to administrative reviews online.

We would advise you to consult the Student Support Office before lodging an administrative review where possible so that they can help advise you on the procedure and process.

When to make a Student visa extension

If you need to extend your Student Visa, you should start getting your documents ready at least three months before your current visa expires. Not everyone can extend their Student Visa in the UK. You need to check the following if you can extend your visa to the UK or if you need to apply from your home country.

  • If you are applying for a visa to start a new degree, and this degree starts more than 28 days after your current visa expires, you will not be able to extend your visa within the UK. You would need to return home and apply there.
  • You cannot apply for a Student Visa in the UK if you currently have a Standard Visitor Visa or a Short-Term Visa.
  • Make sure you apply for an extension before your visa expires. If you apply after it expires you will be an 'overstayer'. This can have a serious impact on you starting your degree at the RCA and your visa application. If you have overstayed please contact us immediately at student-support@rca.ac.uk for further information.
  • Meet the Home Office's 'academic progression' requirement; this requirement may mean that you cannot apply in the UK, even if you meet other requirements and you will have to apply from your home country.

How to make a Student Visa renewal application in the UK

If you already have a student visa to study at the RCA and need to extend this to continue your studies you first need to request for a new Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) from the Registry Team.

  • We recommend you do this three months before your current visa expires.
  • Make sure you attach a scanned copy of your passport photo page and your most recent UK visa to your CAS request with details of why you require a new CAS. You may need to get a supporting letter from your Head of Programme.
  • Once checks have been made the Registry team will email you a new CAS to your RCA email address. 

If your Student Visa is sponsored by another university, you must apply for a new visa sponsored by the RCA before you can start your degree here.

Make sure that:

Required documents 

The Student Visa route requires 70 points made up from:

Study 50 Points

  • CAS for studies requirement 
  • Course requirement
  • Qualification requirement
  • Level of study requirement
  • Place of study requirement

Financial requirement: 10 points

  • If you or your dependant partner, or dependant child have been living in the UK for 12 months or more at the time of your new applications you will automatically meet the financial requirements. This means you do not need to provide financial evidence with your application. If you are applying from outside the UK financial requirements will still be applicable.
  • If you are a Graduate Diploma Student you might need to provide evidence of the financial requirements to check please email student-support@rca.ac.uk

Although there is not a requirement to submit financial documents when extending your visa you will still need to declare that you have the required funds to cover tuition fees and living costs. The caseworker could request you to provide evidence of your maintenance requirement.

You must declare you can demonstrate maintenance of:

  • Living costs of £12,006 (£1,334 per month up to nine months ) 
  • Living costs of £7,605 for each dependant (£845 per month up to nine months)

Documents you provide to demonstrate your maintenance funds can be original or electronic

Appendix Finance sets out the requirements for the level of funds and length of time they must be held

English requirement: 10 points

English Language Requirement For English language requirements click here

Additional documents required

Additional documents will be needed at the point of making your visa application.

  • Passport(s)/travel document(s)
  • Application Fee: The cost of visa application varies annually and depends on the location where you apply from. This online tool helps calculate your visa application expenses.
  • Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) £470 per year (you will be required to pay this once you submit your online application).
  • English language ability (as stated in your CAS)
  • Sponsor letter (if applicable – if you are sponsored for living costs and/or tuition fees then you will need a document proving this)
  • A letter from your parent/legal guardian if they are supporting you financially, and evidence of their relationship with you
  • All documents provided should be in English. Officially certified translations are accepted where necessary.   

Checking your Application form  

The International Student Adviser can help students apply for their Student visa while in the UK.

At your appointment, they will check that your application has been completed correctly and that you have the correct documents for submission. We provide you with a registration form that you need to use at RCA enrolment to evidence that you have made a visa application.

If you would like us to help you check the application. You must make sure that you do not submit and pay for the application. Just complete sections 1, and 2 only and save your application. Do not tick the consent box on the 'Declaration' page of the online form as you will not be able to correct any mistakes beyond this stage.

This service is via appointment only.  To book an appointment, please email Student Support

How long will it take?

  • Applications submitted will have a decision within 8 weeks. However, during busy periods (September to November) it can take longer.
  • Get a faster decision on your application (If you want to get a decision more quickly, you can pay an extra £500 for the priority service to get a decision within 5 working days,  £800 for the super priority service to get a decision by the end of the next working day after providing your biometric information if your appointment is on a weekday, 2 working days after providing your biometric information if your appointment is at the weekend
  • Working days are Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays.

When you get your biometric residence permit

  • You’ll usually receive your biometric residence permit (BRP) within 7 to 10 days of your decision. If it does not arrive, you can report your missing BRP online.
    Your BRP will be sent to the address you gave in your application. You need to update your address before your application is approved if you want it sent elsewhere.

Please note: Your BRP will be sent by 'signed for' service so you should ensure that someone is at your home address to sign for the delivery.

Travel outside the UK before you receive a decision

Applicants under the new system keep their passports throughout the application process. If you leave the Common Travel Area (the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and travel on the passport you used in your application before the Home Office makes a decision, you are automatically treated as having withdrawn your application. 

Your immigration health surcharge should be refunded, but your application fee may not be refunded. You will usually have to make another immigration application before returning to the UK.

It is important that you speak to a student adviser before you withdraw your application as doing so is likely to have consequences both for your current immigration status and for any future immigration applications you may make.

Your application has been returned as invalid. 

The Home Office recently introduced a set of new validity requirements for visa applications under the Points Based Immigration System. Your application must meet all of the validity requirements listed in Appendix ST 1.1 - 1.7 of the immigration rules. 

If your application is invalid, the UKVI will send you a letter telling you why your application was invalid. Your application fee will be refunded to the payment card you used for your application (minus a £25 administrative fee). 

If your previous Student visa is still valid after receiving an invalid decision from the UKVI you may be able to make a new application before your permission expires. 

Please note an invalid application doesn’t extend your permission to be in the UK. It is important that you do not apply for a new student visa very close to your current visa expiry date as an invalid application could result in you being an overstayer in the UK.

If your application is returned as invalid, you must contact student-support@rca.ac.uk and admissions@rca.ac.uk immediately so that an advisor can provide you will guidance and advice on how to proceed. 

Overstaying in the UK

Overstaying in the UK is a criminal offence, therefore, you must arrange to leave the UK or make an application to extend your stay before your visa expires. If you submit your student visa before your expiry date then your permission in the UK will extend until a decision has been made. 

If your visa application is invalid your current visa has expired and there is no grace period once your visa expires, You will have no legal permission to be in the UK until you get a new visa.

This will mean that:

  • You cannot work or study (the College will suspend your enrolment)
  • You may need to pay for any healthcare that you receive
  • Your bank may close your account
  • You will need to state on each future UK visa application that you overstayed your leave. 

You cannot make a visa application in the UK once your visa has expired, unless:

  • You can prove that the overstay was for reasons beyond your control eg. hospitalisation or The Home office website not working

Your student visa application has been returned and is invalid

In the case that is invalid or for reasons beyond your control, you will be permitted to submit an application up to 14 days after your permission to stay has expired.  

Overstay of up to 30 days

You will only be able to make a new application to return to the UK if your period of overstay was less than 30 days, and you left the UK voluntarily and at your own expense.  

Overstay of more than 30 days

If you overstay for more than 30 days in the UK, you will be banned from returning for one to 10 years. 

Contact us

Please speak to an adviser to seek full advice about your options as early as possible to avoid overstaying. This could seriously affect future applications to the UK and other countries.

You can arrive in the UK prior to your course starting. If you are on a course lasting 12 months or more, you will be allowed to enter one month prior to the official start date of the course. 

If you are studying for less than six months you will be allowed to enter one week prior to the official start date of the course.

Effective 1 January 2024, only government-sponsored students pursuing a PhD, doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree will be permitted to bring dependents to the UK. It is important to note that dependents already residing within the UK will be allowed to extend their stay.

Please note that the UK government has announced that students who are already living in the UK will now be able to extend their stay. This policy will remain in effect from now on.

A research-based degree is defined by UKVI as a postgraduate program that includes a research component requiring the production of original work.

This research component should be larger than any accompanying taught component when measured by student effort.

UKVI has also clarified that those who start a postgraduate taught course before January 1, 2024, will still be able to have dependents join them after January 2024, as long as all other requirements of the immigration rules are met.

For courses starting before January 1, 2024, dependents can apply for immigration permission as a Student Dependant to join or remain with the student only if:

  • The student is government-sponsored and their course is longer than six months, or
  • The student is doing a postgraduate level course of 9 months or longer at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance (such as the RCA) or a UK-recognised body,


  • The student's current or most recent immigration permission is/was as a Student (or Tier 4 Student) Visa on a course longer than six months, and all of the following apply:
  • The permission is current or has expired no more than three months before this immigration application,


  • The new immigration application is for a course that is longer than six months,


  • The dependent already has Student Dependant or Tier 4 Dependant immigration permission (or it is the most recent immigration permission that they have).

Who can be a dependant? 

Under the  immigration rules your 'dependants' are:

  • Husband or wife
  • Civil partner (same-sex relationship only)
  • Unmarried or same-sex partner (you must provide evidence that you have been living in a relationship for two years)
  • Children under the age of 18 (upon arrival in the UK)

Important: When bringing dependent children both living parents must normally be coming to the UK or extending their leave in this capacity. If only one parent is applying to come to the UK, please speak to an International Student Adviser at the College because there are very limited exceptions to this requirement.

Detailed information for dependants is available on the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website, including information about:

  • financial requirements
  • how to apply for a dependant visa
  • working as a dependant
  • babies born in the UK
  • family members visiting you
  • schooling for your children.

No recourse to public funds 

A person with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) cannot access benefits, homelessness assistance from the council or allocation of social housing through the council's register. Only these publicly​ funded services are classed as 'public funds' for immigration purposes – see the full list here.  

Family members visiting you

Your family members (including those not eligible for a dependant visa) can visit you for a short period of time while you’re in the UK. They would need to apply for a Standard Visitor visa online.

Standard visitor visa

Guide to supporting documents

Invitation letter for family

If you hold a Student Visa to study at the RCA then you should have permission to work in the UK for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during vacation periods.

Your permission to work will be stamped on your visa in your passport or on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) if you have extended your visa in the UK.

You should check to ensure that you have been given the correct permission to work. If you have not been given permission or have not been given the correct permission you should contact the Student Support Office for further advice.

What kind of work can I do?

While studying in the UK you can perform most kinds of work. However, you cannot do the following:

  • be self-employed (this includes freelance work)
  • be employed as a professional sportsperson or sport coach
  • be employed as an entertainer
  • take a full-time permanent job
  • pursue a career by filling a permanent full-time vacancy.

Volunteering is also considered as work; if you are working and volunteering the combined hours must be at 20 hours per week.

How a week is defined?

  • A 'week' has been defined in the Immigration Rules as 'a period of seven days beginning with a Monday'.
  • If you work irregular hours and/or have more than one employer, you will need to keep detailed records of how many hours you work each day so that you can be sure that you are not in danger of breaching your work condition by exceeding 10 or 20 hours in any seven-day period, starting on a Monday.

What is term time? 

'Term time' means any period when you are supposed to be doing academic work. For example, when you should be:

  • attending classes and lectures, workshops and seminars
  • preparing for exams
  • doing coursework
  • writing essays, a dissertation or thesis.

Term time and holiday or vacation dates are defined by the College's calendar.

These dates are usually based around the academic year with holidays at Christmas, Easter and in the summer. 

Vacation periods

Your vacation period is when you can work full time, are the period when you are not required to be studying. 

Different work restrictions apply to postgraduate students and postgraduate research. 

  • You are allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours a week during term time and full time during the Christmas and Easter vacations only.            
  • Once you've completed all elements of your degree and are waiting for your results then you will be able to work full-time for a maximum of four months or until your Student visa expires, whichever is the earliest.  
  • You will also be eligible to apply for Graduate Visa once you have completed your course and when the college confirms and notifies you that you are eligible

Postgraduate research students

As a research student, you do not have the same defined vacation periods as postgraduate taught students. 

Your working hours remain as 20 hours per week throughout the year. You would only be allowed to work full time during your vacation time.

As a PhD student, your vacation periods would need to be approved and authorised by your supervisor. You would need to make sure that authorisation of your holiday is recorded and a copy is also given to you.

Applying for a National Insurance Number

Students who are actively seeking work may apply for a National Insurance Number by telephoning the following number.

You need to apply by phone for a National Insurance number.

National Insurance number application line:

Telephone: 0800 141 2075 
Textphone: 0800 141 2438
Monday to Friday, 8am – 6pm

The telephone operator will ask you a number of questions including:

  • full UK address and Postcode
  • personal details (name, date of birth)
  • employer’s name and address if you have one.
  • your occupation
  • your date of entry to the UK
  • your eligibility to work in the UK (e.g. student visa, student dependant visa, EU citizen).

The phone call will last approximately 10–20 minutes.

If the operator considers you to be eligible for a National Insurance number on the basis of the information you have supplied, they will book an appointment for you to have a National Insurance number interview at one of the local offices (they will provide the address) If required. They will inform you how long it will take for you to get a national insurance number. An interview will be arranged locally (usually within 18 working days) and you will receive a National Insurance Number several weeks thereafter.

Apply online

You can also apply online. After you apply you’ll get an email with your application reference number. The email will tell you if you need to provide more proof of your identity.

It can take up to 16 weeks for you to get your National Insurance number after you have proven your identity.

Working without a National Insurance Number

You can start work before your National Insurance number arrives if you can prove you can work in the UK. You should tell your employer that you’ve applied for one, and give it to them when you have it. 

There are currently a number of different work visa categories available under the points-based system. All have varying requirements and rules attached to them.

Visit Staying in the UK after your studies for more details.

Correcting an error on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

When you arrive in the UK and receive your BRP card check it for any errors.

  • If there is an error report this within 10 days of receiving your BRP card. You should report the error using the online form on the UKVI website within 10 working days of receiving your BRP.
  • Report the error to the student support team and the visa compliance team and they will be able to advise you on how to correct this.

You can report an error if:

  • there is an error in relation to your visa conditions
  • an error in the length of leave (for example you were granted 2 months at the end of your course instead of 4 months)
  • For GradDip students, ( if you were granted a week instead of 2 months at the end of your course)
  • mistake about your personal details, DoB, nationality, place of birth, gender)
  • any faults on your BRP card.
  • Incorrect work restrictions

The UKVI will then respond to you to advise what to do next if any errors have been found. If you have been granted less time on your visa than you should have been, please select 'conditions or length of stay' as the reason for the error.

If your application was made outside the UK the correction process is free.

BRP error correction if your visa application was made in the UK

If there are errors with the length of or the conditions of your leave, you are required to submit an application for Administrative Review within 14 calendar days of receiving your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). There is an £80 fee for this application which will be refunded to you if a mistake has been made.

Please note If you do not correct your BRP within the 14 days of receiving your BRP card the correction will not be amended.

If you hold a vignette (visa sticker) in your passport

If you notice an error on your vignette please contact the International Student Advisor at student-support@rca.ac.uk. They will advise on how to correct this.

Contact us

If you have any outstanding questions around your Student Visa, contact the Student Support team

Email us at
RCA Kensington cafe