There are two ways to submit your visa application depending on your nationality or your location.
Using the UK Immigration ID Check App
IMPORTANT: If you do not already have a Student visa in place, do not plan to travel to the UK as a tourist and submit your visa application from here. Even if you are applying digitally you are bound by the immigration rule stating that you can only apply from a country you are a national or a resident of and not just visiting. The UKVI are able to track when an application to enter the UK has been made from inside the UK and you should be refused your visa.
The following groups of people can apply for their visa using the UK Immigration ID Check App:
- EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals applying for their Student visa overseas
- Any national with a BRP who is applying to extend their Student visa in the UK
The UK Immigration ID Check app takes your biometric data from your passport/BRP and means, in most cases, that you will not need to attend an appointment to provide your fingerprints. Effectively, this makes the process quicker, especially at peak times when you may have needed to wait for an appointment.
If you are a dual-national of a country that can use the digital application system, you may wish to consider applying for your visa using that passport but you must ensure that the passport you are using for your application matches the passport on your CAS. It is quicker and easier to provide the right details to the team producing your CAS first. Applying with a different passport that does not match your CAS may lead to a visa refusal.
If you apply using the digital system outside the UK/you are a non-visa national applying in the UK, you will then be issued with a digital status as evidence of your immigration status in the UK.
If you apply using the digital system in the UK and are a visa national (someone who has to apply for a tourist visa before travelling to the UK) you will be issued with both a BRP and a digital status. In some cases, you may still need to attend a biometrics appointment.
You can find out more about the digital process and digital statuses in our info sheet:
ID Check App FAQS
Applying in person and attending a biometrics appointment
If you are a national of a country that cannot apply using the digital process or your document did not work on the app, you will need to make an appointment to provide your biometric information. Biometric appointments are run by third-party providers on behalf of the UKVI. For overseas applications, this will either be VfS Global or TLS Contact depending on your country of application. Applications in the UK are run by Sopra Steria in UKVCAS application centres.
The only exception is in the USA, where you can either apply via a VfS application centre or USCIS ASC field centre. Do your research in advance, because once you have selected your option, you cannot change this at a later date without submitting a brand new application. If you apply using a field centre, you must still send your documents to the UKVI including your passport. You can find more information on the following government web page:
Apply for a UK visa in the USA
FAQS on the application process
How long does it take to receive a decision on my application?
Your date of application is the date you submitted and paid for your visa application. However, a caseworker does not start making a decision on your application until your biometrics have been received.
Advertised processing times are:
- Applications made outside the UK - three weeks to receive a decision after biometrics have been submitted. If you had to attend an appointment and physically submit your documents, you will then need to allow at least another 10 working days for the return of your documents. Decisions can take longer during peak periods, so this is why you should plan to apply for your visa as soon as you are eligible as it can be a risk to delay submitting your application. Students often have to defer their place because they applied late and they could not make it to LSE on time.
- Applications made in the UK - eight weeks from the date of application
I've received an email from the UKVI asking me for further information. Is this genuine?
Sometimes the UKVI will contact you to provide further information to support your application. For example, they may contact you to provide better qualilty scans of your bank statements or they may contact you to enquire about gaps in your studies e.g. if there has been a break between your undergraduate studies and Masters studies.
If you are ever unsure about the content of an email you have received saying that it is from the UKVI, please get in touch with the team. Unfortunately, there are known frauds against international students, so it is always best to check:
Frauds and Scams
Emails from the UKVI may go into your junk mail folder, especially if you use Gmail. You should check your junk mail regularly to ensure you haven't missed any requests for information.
Can LSE expedite my application?
We are unable to expedite applications, particularly when they are still within the standard processing times. You should plan to apply in good time to join your programme, because we have no influence UKVI processing times.
If an application is very delayed then we will be able to contact the UKVI on your behalf to query the delay.
Can LSE contact the visa application centre to find out where my documents are?
Unfortunately, we do not have any direct links to the visa application centres.
My friend's university said that they can track their application for them by their CAS status. Does LSE provide a similar service?
There is no accurate way to track the progress of an application despite what services other institutions may offer. Many institutions use the status of a CAS as an indicator. When a CAS is issued to you it shows as 'Assigned' on a UKVI database. When it is used in an application, it shows as 'Used' on a UKVI database. In the past we also referred to your CAS status. However, we are aware that the CAS status is often changed to 'used' by caseworkers now to show they are case working the application and not that a decision has been made.
We are happy to let you know the status of your CAS, but it is a risk to rely on this as an indicator of when your visa may be granted.