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The University of Southampton
Student ServicesVisa and immigration

English language requirements

To apply for a Student visa, you need to meet the English language requirements set by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The English language requirements for UKVI are different from the English language requirements set by the University for your programme of study.

Check your CAS to see the documents you need to show your English language ability.
Check your CAS to see the documents you need to show your English language ability.

You can find more information about the English language requirements set by the University on the Admissions webpages on the University website.

After you have made your application to study at the University, you will be asked to complete a CAS questionnaire and the University will give you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), if required. The CAS is essential to apply for a Student visa. Your CAS will say what evidence of your English language ability you will need to show for your Student visa application.

Check your CAS statement

You will receive your CAS statement in an email from the University. Your CAS statement will say which documents, if any, you will need to show your English language ability for the Student visa application. This information will be written in the English language qualification section of your CAS statement.

If your CAS says SELT required:  No, and the reason given is HEI sponsor has made assessment, then you do not need to provide any documents to prove your English language ability as part of your visa application.

If your CAS says SELT required: Yes, then you must provide the exact same English language test or qualification which is written on your CAS.

If you do not meet the English language requirements for your programme, the University may ask you to do a Pre-sessional course before your main programme of study. The Pre-sessional course is below degree level.

Student visa application for a Pre-sessional English course

Pre-sessional courses are below degree level. Before the University can give you a CAS for a course below degree level, you will need to have passed an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) and achieved a minimum level of B1 of the Common Framework for Languages (CEFR) in all four areas of English language: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

The most common SELT is IELTS but you can find out which other SELTs are approved by UKVI in their information page about Student visas.

If you achieve less than B1 CEFR in any area, you will not receive a CAS and you will not be able to apply for a Student visa. Instead, you should look at our information about applying for a short-term study visa. Please be aware: if you travel to the UK on a short-term study visa you will not be able to extend your visa in the UK. You will have to return to your home country to make an application for a visa which is not in the visitor category. If you need advice about the type of visa to apply for, please contact us using our online enquiry form.

If your CAS is for the Pre-sessional course only, the Student visa you receive to enter the UK will expire at the end of your Pre-sessional course. If you pass the Pre-sessional course and you are eligible to apply for a Student visa inside the UK, the University VISAS Team can help you to apply for a new Student visa for your main programme of study. It is very important that you read the important information about the application process to extend your Student visa inside the UK, which is available on the University Visa and Immigration Student Advice Service (VISAS Team) webpages.

If your Pre-sessional English course is less than 12 weeks in duration you may, in certain circumstances, be offered a CAS for your Pre-sessional course and your main programme of study. The University will assess if you are eligible for a joint CAS and will offer you this option if it is available to you. If you have chosen to have a joint CAS, your Student visa would be for the length of your Pre-sessional course and your main programme of study and this will affect the amount of maintenance you will need to show as part of you visa application.


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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

If you are uncertain about anything or you have a query, then our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page may have the answer.

Visa drop-in and appointments

Visa drop-in and appointments

We offer a drop-in service for quick questions regarding your visa or you can book an appointment to speak, in depth, with one of our Visa Advisors.

Enquiry form

Enquiry form

You can contact us through our online enquiry form. We strongly encourage people to contact us through the enquiry form rather than email us directly.  

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