UK Child Student Visa Application Guidance (Tier 4 Child Visa)
The Child Student visa UK (previously known as the Tier 4 Child visa) is for children aged between 4 and 17 years who wish to study at a UK independent school. Before applying for a UK child student visa, you will need to ensure that your child has an unconditional offer of a place at an independent school here.
Child student applications can be submitted up to 6 months before the start of the course, as long as this is done outside of the UK, or up to 3 months before if submitted within the UK. Overseas students who are aged 18 or over should apply for a UK Student visa instead.
As a parent of the Child Student visa holder, you can apply for a visa to come to UK to stay for the same duration as the permission given to your child. You can check our Parent of a Child Student Visa page for more information.
UK child student visa requirements
To make a successful application for a UK child student visa, your child must meet the following requirements:
- Be aged between 4 and 17 years.
- Have an unconditional offer of a place on a suitable course at a UK independent school.
- Have sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK and to pay for the course.
- Have the consent of their parent/parents or parental guardian to study in the UK and have sufficient proof of this.
Unconditional offer of a place
Your child must have an unconditional offer of a place at an independent school in the UK with a Child Student sponsor licence. Only licenced sponsors are able to sponsor child students to come to the UK and issue them with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to prove they have an offer of a place.
Suitable course requirements
Child student visas are only granted to children with an offer of a place on a suitable course of study. The course of study must be taught in line with one of the following academic standards:
- The national curriculum
- RQF level 3 or lower
- The independent school education inspection standards
The rules also state that a child enrolled in a course that is approved as being at the same level as the above can also be considered for a Child student visa, as long as it is approved by one of the following education bodies:
- Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
- Education Scotland
- Estyn (in Wales)
- Education and Training Inspectorate (in Northern Ireland)
To qualify for a Child Student visa, the duration of the course must be 6 months or more. For courses of less than 6 months, the UK Visitor visa may be a more suitable option.
As part of the application process for a child student visa, you will also need to provide sufficient evidence that your child has enough funds to cover their stay and course costs. The amount you will need to prove depends on where and who the child will be staying within the UK, as follows:
Child student living with their parent or guardian
- The parent or guardian must hold a ‘Parent of a Child Student visa’ (for children up to the age of 12).
- Evidence of sufficient funds to pay the required course fees for at least 1 academic year.
- At least £1,560 per month in support funds for a period of up to 9 months will also be required to cover the costs of the child and parent.
- Evidence of an additional £625 per month for each additional child the parent or guardian will be joining in the UK.
Child boarding at a UK independent school
- Sufficient funds to pay the course and boarding fees for at least 1 academic year.
Child living with a foster carer or close relative
- The foster carer or close relative must be a British citizen or have a UK settlement visa (also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain).
- Sufficient funds to pay the course fees for at least 1 academic year.
- The foster carer or close relative must also be able to show they have at least £570 per month to help support the child.
Child aged 16 or 17 and living independently
- Sufficient funds to pay the course fees for at least 1 academic year.
- £1,334 per month to cover living costs if studying in London or £1,023 per month if outside of London.
Any funds you need to prove must have been held for at least 28 consecutive dates by the child or you as their parent/guardian.
Exceptions to the financial requirements for a Child Student visa
There are two main exceptions to the financial requirements for applicants who:
- Have held a UK visa for at least 12 months immediately before the date of the Child Student visa application, or
- Are a British national overseas from an exempt country1.
Consent from a parent or guardian
Child student visa UK applicants must provide written consent that their application is supported by their parents or legal guardian. It is also sufficient to have consent from 1 parent if they have sole legal parental responsibility for the applicant. The letter provided to UKVI should include details on and evidence proving:
- the relationship between the parents or legal guardian and the child student
- the consent of the parents or legal guardian consent to the Child student visa application
- the consent of the parents or legal guardian to the child’s living and care arrangements when in the UK
- the consent of the parents or legal guardian regarding the child’s travel to the UK and the reception arrangements on arrival, if applicable
The letter of consent must be signed by both parents or legal guardians (or just one parent or guardian if they have sole legal responsibility for the child).
The Child student visa is part of the UK points-based system for immigration, hence applicants will only be considered if they score all of the following points:
A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies
Eligible independent school
Aged between 4 and 17
Meet the financial requirements
UK child student visa document checklist
To support your child’s UK Child Student visa application, you will need to provide several items of documentation. UKVI will tell you which documents you will need to provide. In general, your UK child student document checklist may include:
- The child’s passport
- Valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
- Written consent from the child’s parent or legal guardian agreeing to their study in the UK
- Evidence of sufficient support and course funds (e.g., bank statement)
- Proof of the child’s relationship to their parent or guardian (e.g., birth certificate)
- Evidence of qualifications if needed to secure a place on the child’s course of study
- Tuberculosis (TB) test results, if applicable
How to apply for a UK child student visa
To apply for a UK Child Student visa, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Complete and submit the Child Student visa application form (the form you need to complete depends on whether you are applying from outside the UK2 or within the UK3).
- Pay the application fee (£363 if applying outside the UK or £490 within the UK) and the immigration healthcare surcharge (allowing access to the National Health Service – NHS).
- Book and attend a biometric appointment at your nearest visa application centre (if in the UK) or UKVCAS office (if outside the UK) to have fingerprints scanned and photo taken.
- Upload any documents required by the UKVI.
- In some cases, it may be necessary to attend an interview before a decision can be made.
Extend a UK Child student visa
Child student visas are normally issued for up to 6 years for those aged under 16 or up to 3 years for those aged 16 or 17, depending on the course length. To continue studying in the UK once the visa expires, it may be possible to apply for an extension. To extend the visa, the applicant must:
- be in the UK on a Child Student visa when they apply
- have an unconditional offer of a place on a suitable course with a licensed Child Student sponsor
- continue to meet the requirements outlined above
Extension applications cost £490 in addition to the healthcare surcharge.
The Child Student visa does not qualify for permanent settlement. Therefore, it will be necessary for your child to switch to another visa when they are able to if they wish to apply for ILR.
How can Reiss Edwards help?
Reiss Edwards specialises in all aspects of Child Student visas and Parent of a Child Student visa applications. If you engage our services, we can:
- Check if your child is eligible for a Child Student visa and provide further guidance
- Handle Child Student Visa application process from the outset to completion
- Handle visa refusal of a Child Student Visa application
- Advise on gaining ILR in the UK for your child
2 GOV.UK: Applying from outside the UK
3 GOV.UK: Switch to a child study visa