New students

Overseas (including EU/EEA nationals) applicants who hold unconditional offers at the RAU are advised to allow plenty of time to apply for and obtain their Student visa.

You can apply for your visa up to six months before the start of your course if you apply from outside the UK.

To apply you will need a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number from us so that you can complete your Student visa application.

Visa application process step-by step

Step 1 Firmly accept your unconditional offer
Step 2
  • Pay the tuition fee deposit required by the University (min £2,000) or
  • If you are financially sponsored provide copy of the official Scholarship letter to
  • The latest date to pay the deposit/provide your sponsorship letter is 1 August (or by mid-November if you start in January). Any extension to this deadline must be discussed and agreed with Admissions.

N.B. Students from certain exchange programmes visiting the University for a full academic year who are not required to pay tuition fees are exempted from the deposit mentioned above.

Step 3 Complete the BIPF (Background Information ProForma) form and submit it via the myRAU portal
Step 4
  • Check the information in your pre-CAS statement. You'll receive it by email up to six months before your course start date
  • Please note that accommodation fees on the CAS will always show as 0.00. Students are therefore advised to keep money for their living expenses (incl. accommodation) in the bank account they'll use to confirm their funds until after their visa application is processed. Accommodation deposits must still be paid, but these will only show up on the CAS to a max. amount of £1,334.
  • Any tuition fees paid, including deposits and University scholarships, will show in your CAS. Make sure you check this carefully as any outstanding funds need to be shown in the financial evidence you use with your visa application. You should not make any further payments once you have verified that the CAS details are correct, as new information may not be shown in the final CAS.
Step 5
  • If you need to have a TB test certificate start the process
  • To check if you need a TB test visit
  • The Visa Support Team will contact you to assist you with your application
Step 6
Step 7
  • Wait for the Visa Support Team (VST)  instructions to complete your online visa application form:
  • The RAU ACL code (2HE767). You need to enter this onto your visa application form. This ensures delivery of your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to the University, for collection on arrival to the UK
  • Pay the relevant Immigration Health Surcharge – IHS (This is set at £470 per year for students- correct at 10/11/2020)
Step 8
  • Submit your completed visa application when the VST clears you to do so
  • As part of the online visa application, you will book an appointment to attend in person and submit your documents. For more information see:

Starting in early May (or late October if your course starts in February), all overseas unconditional offer holders who have accepted their offer will receive an email with instructions on how to submit this important form.

  • The BIPF form is mandatory for those overseas students who require a CAS number, which is used to apply for a student visa. The BIPF form is available on myRAU and must be completed and submitted within one week of the receipt of the email and no later than 1 August (or  by mid-November if you are a February starter)
  • Confirm your passport details to us
  • Return a copy of the financial document to be used in support of your visa application
  • Provide information on previous UK visas you may have had before

Overseas students who require a student visa will not be issued a CAS number until the form has been completed and returned to us.

We have a Visa Support Team, who are immigration/visa specialists with extensive experience. The Visa Support Team provides you with a one-to-one, personalised service covering every aspect of the visa application process and is always available to give you whatever advice you need in relation to your UK study visa.

This specialist service is provided to you free of charge. When you have been given an unconditional offer you have accepted, the Visa Support Team will be in contact to guide you through the visa application process.

Please note the free visa support is only for student visas of students who are studying with the RAU. The Visa Support Team can provide help with other visas, such as for dependents, but there would be a charge for those services.

If you are applying online or through the premium service centre, you will pay the International Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of your application or when you book an appointment.

If you are applying by post, you must pay the healthcare surcharge online before you send your application – you will need to include the IHS reference number on your application form.

The IHS costs from £470 per year for a student. It is calculated on the basis of the length of the visa you will be granted. To calculate how much you will have to pay visit the website. The IHS is mandatory and failure to pay the correct amount could lead to a refusal of your visa. Some people are exempt, but they will still need to obtain an IHS number to include in their Student Visa application.

To pay for the IHS please follow the steps below:

  • Read the UKVI web pages for the up-to-date information on the IHS
  • Find out when you need to pay the surcharge or if you are exempt from payment
  • Calculate how much your surcharge will be using the Home Office Calculator. You should refer to your course dates as stated on your CAS
  • Keep a copy of the email you are sent by the Home Office with your IHS number for reference. You will be required to write the number on your Student Visa application form

EU applicants

If you are from an EU country and applying for a Student visa, you will need to pay this charge as well. However, you may be eligible for a refund. See GOV guidance for further information.

TB (Tuberculosis) testing is obligatory for students applying to study in the UK for more than six months who are resident in any of the countries listed here by the UK Government.

If you need a TB test please arrange to do it before August (if you start in October) or by December (if you start in February). The TB test certificate is valid for six months and will need to be included in the documents submitted with your visa application.

Self-funded students

If you are coming to study in the UK you will need to prove that you have enough money to pay for our course fees and your living costs while you are studying here. The Home Office refers to these as the maintenance (funds) requirements. You will need to prove that you have:

  • Tuition fees for the first year of your programme or for the entire course if it is less than a year long
  • £1,023 per month for living costs if you are studying outside London or anywhere else in the UK, for the majority of your study (i.e. you will need to show 9 months x £1,023 = £9,207)

Important: You must show that you have held the required money for a consecutive 28 day period (finishing on the date of the closing balance) ending no more than 31 days before your application.

The Home Office will accept only specific documentation and it is essential that you follow the guidance given by our Visa Support Team and the Home Office policy guidance to ensure that you can use and obtain these documents in time to apply for your visa.

*Information is correct at the time of publication

Monies paid towards tuition costs

We will update the Home Office CAS database with details of any tuition fee payments you make. This enables them to take such payments into account when calculating your ability to finance your studies in the UK.

Your CAS statement will list any accommodation deposits paid in advance. We advise that you pay a maximum of £1,334 for RAU accommodation before you apply for your Student visa.

If you make a payment towards your fees we will make updates to the Home Office database approximately within 48 hours after the money has cleared with our bank. Please ensure that you also write to the Visa Support Team to inform us of any payments/additional tuition fee payments you have made. You must wait for an updated CAS statement from us before applying for your visa if you need to show that you have paid additional money to the RAU towards your course.

Important: It can take up to two weeks for monies to clear, so, you will need to plan for this when preparing for your visa application. You should not make payments if you have a visa appointment within the next fortnight as it is likely that we may be unable to issue you with an updated CAS statement before your appointment.

When you do not need to prove you have money to support yourself:

You do not need to prove the financial requirement if:

  • You’ve had a UK visa for 12 months prior to the date of your Student visa application - you must currently be in the UK

If you’re from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ or you are a British National Overseas. However, you might be asked to provide this evidence before you get a decision on your application. The RAU Visa Support Team will check that these are in place before they issue you with a CAS.

Financially sponsored students

Arrange for your sponsoring body to issue a confirmation letter. This must be received by us the latest by 1 August (October start)/mid-November (February start).

If you are sponsored, evidence of sponsorship must be issued by an authorised officer of an official sponsoring body and must have a recent date of issue (within 30 days from sending). The letter should be on company/organisation headed paper and should clearly state:

  • Your name and university number
  • The programme for which you have been offered a place
  • The level of fees that will be paid by the organisation/company in sterling pound
  • The address the invoice should be sent to
  • The contact person and department in the organisation/company
  • That the fees (quoted in in sterling pound) will be paid directly to the Royal Agricultural University

Please provide evidence of sponsorship by emailing

Definition of an official sponsor

An official financial sponsor is defined as:

  • The UK government
  • Your home government
  • The British Council
  • Any international organisation
  • An international company (N.B. the Home Office has not defined 'international company' but it seems to mean a company with a trading presence i.e. an office in more than one country)
  • Any university
  • An independent school

If you receive funding from any of the above sources, you will need a letter from them confirming how much money they will contribute towards your course fees and maintenance. If your official financial sponsor is also your Student visa sponsor and they have included details of your financial sponsorship in your CAS, you do not need an additional letter. The letter must show:

  • Your name
  • The name and contact details of the official financial sponsor
  • The date of the letter
  • The length of the sponsorship
  • The amount of money the sponsor is giving to you, or a statement that all course fees and living costs will be covered

If you are a "low risk" student (i.e. your country of origin is not listed in paragraph 22 of Appendix ST of the Immigration Rules, you should obtain this letter and keep it safe, but you do not need to include it with your initial application.

All other applicants must include the letter with their application.

If your official financial sponsor is not covering all of your course fees and maintenance, you must be able to demonstrate that you have the rest of the money required. 

Consent of current or previous official financial sponsor, if they are a government or an international scholarship agency

If you have an official financial sponsor for your proposed studies, and the sponsor is a government or an international scholarship agency, their sponsor letter (which you will need for evidence of your money, see below) should specifically state that they consent to your Student visa application.

If you have previously received financial sponsorship from a government or international scholarship agency for your studies, and the sponsorship ended less than 12 months ago, you must also obtain and include a letter of consent from this financial sponsor.

To apply for a Student visa, students need to meet the UKVI English language requirements in addition to meeting the University’s requirements for their chosen course of study.

There are various ways you can meet the requirements depending on what level of course you intend to study with us.

You will automatically satisfy the English language requirements (providing you plan to use this Passport to apply for your UK visa) for visa purposes:

  • If you have a passport from one of the countries on the list here
  • If you have completed a degree level qualification taught in a majority English speaking country
  • You have studied in the UK before and you proved your level of English in a previous visa application
  • You are applying to come to the UK for a study abroad programme as part of a university degree course in the USA
  • You have taken a Secure English Language Test (SELT). SELTs are approved by the UKVI and include qualifications such as IELTS. The full list of acceptable tests is available on the UKVI webpages

Please note that for study below Bachelor degree level i.e. Foundation degrees you will need to undertake a UKVI IELTS test and achieve a score according to the academic requirements of your programme of study.

In addition to the cap on study, students need to meet the requirements for academic progression. This means your new course should usually be a higher level than your previous course.

This rule only affects students who have studied in the UK with a Tier 4/Student route visa and who want to study another course at the same RQF(Regulated Qualifications Framework) level.

Demonstrating academic progression

Academic progression is key if you want to study at the same level again. For example, if you have already studied a Masters level course and want to complete another one with the Royal Agricultural University.

Academic progression usually means that your new course is at a higher level so when your intended study is at the same level, it has to ‘enhance’ and/or ‘complement’ your previous course otherwise you can’t apply for another Student route visa.

  • Study that is at a higher level than your previous course is acceptable
  • Study at the same level is only acceptable if your new course ‘enhances’ and/or ‘complements’ your previous course

Same level study is usually acceptable where students are applying to complete a practical Masters level course in their chosen field, having recently completed a theoretical course in a related topic.

If your course does not represent academic progression, you will not be able to apply for a new Student visa. Contact the Assistant Registrar - Admissions & Compliance for information and advice.

You do not need to meet the academic progression rule if:

  • You are applying for a Student route visa from outside the UK
  • You are applying to resit an exam or repeat a course, or you have previously resat an exam or repeated a course, and you need extra time to complete your programme
  • You wish to undergo a period of study abroad or a work placement, or you have already done so, and you need extra time to complete your programme
  • You are applying for more time to complete your PhD for which you were last granted a Student route (or Tier 4) visa (including at a new sponsor)
  • You are applying to undertake a role as a Sabbatical Officer

There are restrictions to the amount of time you can study in the UK with a Student visa. There are also rules around studying at the same level with a Student visa.

Undergraduate degree level

Courses below degree level (RQF 4-5)

Students using a Student route visa are allowed to study courses below degree level in the UK for up to two years.

Courses at degree level and above (RQF 6-7-8)

Students using a Student route visa are allowed to study courses at degree level for no more than five years unless they are studying on an exempt subject.

There are some further limited exceptions to the five year limit at degree level.

Postgraduate degree level

There is no time limit on study at postgraduate degree level and above.

The BRP is your visa. You’ll get a biometric residence permit (BRP) if you:

  • Apply to come to the UK for longer than six months
  • Extend your visa to longer than six months

You do not have to apply separately for a BRP. You’ll get one automatically if your visa application is approved. You will collect this once you have arrived and registered fully at the University.

If you apply for a Student visa from outside the UK you will be issued with a temporary visa vignette in your passport (usually valid for 30 days to allow you to travel unless extraordinary circumstances apply. N.B. This has been extended to 90 days during the Covid-19 pandemic as a temporary measure) and your BRP will be available for you to collect from your University or a Post Office if you have indicated so in your visa application.

Your BRP will include:

  • Your name, date and place of birth
  • Your fingerprints and a photo of your face
  • Your immigration status and any conditions of your stay
  • Whether you can access public funds, for example benefits and health services

You may have a National Insurance (NI) number printed on the back of your BRP. Not all BRPs have this - it depends on factors like the date it was issued and your visa status.

You can use your BRP to confirm your:

  • Identity
  • Right to study or work in the UK
  • Right to any public services or benefits you’re entitled to

Information from the Home Office pages.

N.B. If your BRP expires on 31 December 2024 - You won’t need a BRP from 1 January 2025. You'll be able to prove your immigration status online, without a BRP. UKVI will update their information on how to prove your immigration status in early 2024.