As an overseas national, if you want to study for longer than 6 months in the UK you will first need to obtain a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a UK sponsor before you can apply for your student visa.
The CAS forms one of the most important parts of the Student visa application process as it verifies that you have been accepted on a qualifying course of study in the UK.
The following guide for visa applicants looks at the CAS in detail, from what this is to the other documents needed to apply for a Student visa.
What is Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)?
To be eligible for a Student visa, you must be aged 16 or over and have been made an unconditional offer of a place on a course by a licensed student sponsor in the UK. To prove that you have been accepted onto a course, your education provider will assign you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) once they have formally offered you a place, and you have accepted that offer and met any other pre-CAS registration requirements.
Your CAS is not a physical document, but rather an electronic record of the offer of a place on a course, together with your biographical and other details, as evidenced by a unique reference number. You will need your CAS number before applying for your Student visa.
If you are 16 or 17 and would like to study at an independent school in the UK, you may instead be eligible for a Child Student visa. However, you will still need a CAS number as proof of an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed Child Student sponsor.
Who needs a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies?
If you are aged 16+ and subject to UK immigration control, you will need to apply for a Student visa if you are planning to undertake a course of study in the UK for more than 6 months. In turn, to be able to apply for a Student visa, you will first need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. However, you will also need to satisfy the following criteria:
- meet an English language requirement, unless exempt
- meet a financial requirement, where applicable
- have written consent from your parents if you are aged 16 or 17.
You may also need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate if your course of study for which your CAS has been assigned is at postgraduate level and involves a sensitive subject, such as biotechnology, nuclear physics or artificial intelligence. You should read the guidance for your prospective course to find out if you need an ATAS certificate or contact the education provider where you plan to study.
English language requirement
Under the English language requirement, applicants must meet a required level of English language ability depending on the level of their course, where your CAS will demonstrate what level of English is required and what assessment was carried out or what evidence has been used to demonstrate that you meet the relevant requirement. For example, if applying to study a course below degree level, you must have the equivalent of Level B1 on the Common European Framework of References (CEFR) for English language. If applying to study a course at degree level or above, you must have the equivalent of CEFR Level B2.
You can prove your knowledge of English by having a GCSE, A level or Scottish equivalent in English, gained through study at a UK school that you began when you were under 18. Alternatively, you can show that you can speak, read, write and understand English to the required standard by passing a Secure English language Test (SELT) with an approved SELT provider. However, if you are studying at degree level or above, your education provider can assess your level of English themselves, where they may ask you to take a different test.
You will not be required to prove your knowledge of English if you are from, or have completed a qualification that is equivalent to a UK degree in, a majority English-speaking country. The language requirement is also not applicable if any one of the following applies:
- you are a Canadian national
- you are applying for a study abroad programme in the UK which forms part of a university degree course in the United States
- you have already proved your English language ability in a previous visa application.
When it comes to the financial requirement, the amount can vary depending upon your circumstances and what course you are applying for. In broad terms, you must have sufficient funds to pay your course fees for the first academic year and to cover your living costs for up to 9 months. As such, the financial requirement is made up of two parts:
Course fees: you will need enough money to pay for your course for 1 academic year (up to 9 months) or for the entire course if less than a year long. The amount you will need to pay will be set out on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies;
Monthly living costs: in addition to your course fees, you must also show that you have enough money for each month of your course to prove that you are able to support yourself for up to 9 months. The level of money needed will depend on where you will be studying. For courses in London, the sum required for living costs will be £1,334 per month and, for courses outside of London, the monthly sum will be £1,023.
Where the financial requirement applies, you must have this money in your bank account for at least 28 days in a row. The end date of the 28-day period must also be within 31 days of the date you apply for your Student visa. If you have either a student loan or financial sponsorship, you will need to provide evidence of this from your loan or sponsorship company. However, you will also be exempt from the financial requirement if:
- you are applying for leave to remain in the UK, having already been in the UK for 12 months or more with valid permission on the date of your visa application
- you are applying for leave as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer
- you are applying for leave to study on a recognised foundation programme as either a postgraduate doctor or dentist in training.
How do you obtain a CAS in UK universities and colleges?
To obtain a CAS in UK universities and colleges, you must apply for a suitable course that qualifies for a Student visa. The courses that you can study on this route include:
- a full-time course that leads to a qualification below degree level with 15 hours or more a week of organised daytime study
- a full-time course that leads to a qualification at degree level or above
- a full-time course at degree level or above equivalent to a UK higher education course that is being delivered as part of a longer course overseas
- a part-time course that leads to a qualification above degree level
- a recognised foundation programme for either postgraduate doctors or dentists
- an English language course of at least Level B2 of the CEFR for English language.
Once you have been offered a place on a suitable course by a licensed sponsor, and you have accepted that offer, your sponsor will confirm this with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). UKVI will then assign a unique CAS reference number, which will be forwarded to you via your sponsor. However, you will first be asked by your sponsor to clarify certain information and provide any key documentation, in this way ensuring that the information that appears in your electronic CAS record is correct. As such, it is vital that any registration requirements requested of you are carefully completed. Importantly, if you apply for a Student visa with an invalid CAS, your application will also be treated as invalid.
How much does a CAS UK cost to be assigned?
The cost for UKVI to assign an CAS to your UK sponsor on your behalf is £25 (from 4 October 2023). This fee will typically be passed on to you by your course provider as a processing fee. However, before your CAS is assigned to you, you may also be asked by your course provider to pay a deposit towards your course fees, whereby any deposit should be deducted from your total balance.
How do you use your CAS number UK for your visa application?
When applying for a Student visa, you will need to complete an online form, regardless of whether you are applying from overseas or inside the UK. You will need your CAS number UK to insert in your online application. In this way, UKVI can check your electronic record showing that you have been offered a place on a course with a UK licensed sponsor.
As part of your application for a Student visa, you will also need to prove your identity and provide a number of additional documents in support. The way in which you prove your identity will depend on whether you are applying from inside or outside the UK, and if you are eligible to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document.
You will be told when you apply if you can use the ID Check app, otherwise you will be required to schedule an appointment to attend with your passport or other valid travel document. You will also be required to enrol your biometric information at this appointment, including a scan of your fingerprints and a digitised image of your face.
When applying from overseas, you will need to schedule an appointment at your local Visa Application Centre (VAC) or, when applying to switch to the Student route from inside the UK, at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) Service Point.
How long is your CAS number UK valid for your visa application?
Once you have been sent your unique CAS number UK by your course provider, you must apply for your Student visa within a period of 6 months of receiving this number. However, when you can apply for a Student visa will depend on whether you are applying for entry clearance from overseas or to switch from another visa category from inside the UK.
If you are applying from overseas, the earliest you can apply for a visa is 6 months prior to the start of your course. You should usually get a decision from UKVI within 3 weeks of proving your identity using the ID Check app or enrolling your biometric information.
If you are applying from the UK, the earliest you can apply is 3 months prior to the start of your course. You must also apply before your existing visa expires and your course must begin within 28 days of that visa expiring. You will usually get a decision from UKVI within 8 weeks of proving your identity using the app or enrolling your biometrics.
Additional supporting documents for a student visa application
When applying for a Student visa, in addition to your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies from your course provider, as evidenced by your unique CAS number UK, you must provide a current passport or other valid travel document to prove your identity and nationality. You may also need to provide documentary evidence of the following:
- proof you have enough money to pay for your course and support yourself in the UK for the first academic year, where applicable
- written consent from either your parents or legal guardians if you are aged 16 or 17, together with proof of your relationship
- a valid ATAS clearance certificate, where applicable.
You may also need to provide additional documentation depending on your circumstances, such as a valid tuberculosis test certificate if you have been residing within a listed country for the 6 months preceding your Student visa application.
When it comes to the English language requirement, your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies must show how this requirement has been met. In circumstances where your sponsor has themselves assessed your English language ability, they must state this and the method of assessment on your CAS. Similarly, where a SELT is required, the name of your test provider, your unique test reference number and the score for each component tested (reading, writing, listening, speaking) must be included on your CAS.
CAS UK FAQs
How long does it take to get CAS in the UK?
Once you have been offered and accepted a place on a course of study by a UK-licensed sponsor, and you have responded to any pre-CAS information request, you will typically be assigned a unique CAS number within 10 working days.
How do I get CAS UK?
To obtain a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies), you must have been offered a place by a UK-licensed sponsor on a suitable course that qualifies for a Student visa and, having accepted that offer, an CAS will be assigned.
Does CAS guarantee visa?
Being assigned a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies, also known as a CAS, does not guarantee the grant of a visa, where you must meet various other eligibility requirements to be approved, including an English language and financial requirement.
How much does a CAS cost?
A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) must be assigned by a UK-licensed sponsor at a cost of £25 (from 4 October 2023), where this fee will be passed on to the visa applicant by the course provider as a processing fee.
Last updated: 20 August 2023