BestPrepSchools.co.uk - helping parents choose the best private preparatory or pre-preparatory school for their child

We were very happy to have the choice between three strong schools, and believe we have chosen the best fit for Nicolas and Alexander. Thank you for all of your help – we couldn’t have done it without you.

Mr & Mrs F H

Visas

Entry to the UK

If your child has a British passport or is a national of a country within the EU / EEA or Switzerland, they do not need a visa to study at a UK private school. Otherwise they need what is known as a “Tier 4 Child Student Visa”. You can read the exact regulations at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/studying/child-students/ which is the website of the UK Borders Agency i.e. UK immigration authorities.

In order to obtain a Tier 4 Child Visa you need to get an official letter offering a school place, known as a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) letter, and you need to be applying to a private school with “Tier 4 Highly Trusted Status”. Most boarding prep schools and international prep schools will have Tier 4 Status, BUT the majority of stand alone day preps will not. Thus if you are a foreign national, you must ensure you are applying to a Tier 4 status school. It is possible some international families will have obtained a separate Family Group visa (possibly via their employer). Whatever the circumstances, you should check it allows your child to attend a UK private school.

In recent years, the UKBA have considerably tightened the rules and process for visa applications in order to deter foreign nationals from using the visa study rules to be used as a means of entering the UK to find work, because of widespread abuse by pseudo colleges. Unfortunately the consequent bureaucracy has made life more difficult for everyone else. We hear cases where the UKBA has demanded 100% of school fees be paid in advance or that the parent has to demonstrate that they have deposited a substantial sum of money into UK bank accounts. UKBA may insist the child student has a proven minimum standard of English Language ability. For certain countries, it may be necessary to have a medical test to demonstrate the absence of specific diseases e.g. tuberculosis. You are forewarned that the visa process can often take 4 to 12 weeks to complete. So leave yourself time. The school choice process could easily take 4 to 8 weeks before you can get an offer with a CAS letter.

Education Advisers Ltd is not an expert in facilitating visas. However, if you are experiencing problems we have contacts with several UK based firms which provide this service for a fee. Please phone us on +44 (0) 1732 368767 for further information.