Applying for a Tier 4 visa

Applying for a Tier 4 visa

Applications for a student visa are made under Tier 4 of the Points Based System. You will be eligible to apply if you can claim the 40 points required under this tier. 40 points are allocated as follows:

  • 30 points for having a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a Tier 4 sponsor
  • 10 points for having enough money to cover course fees and monthly living costs (also known as maintenance or funds)

If you have received your CAS, the information contained in your CAS must be read in conjunction with the information below:

  • CAS – what it is, how to request one, how to read the information in your CAS and use them in your Tier 4 visa application;
  • How to complete your Tier 4 visa application form online (when you receive your CAS) and what kind of supporting documents you need to submit with your visa application- depending on where you submit your visa application, click ‘Applying inside the UK (Leave to Remain)’ or ‘Applying overseas (Entry Clearance) to access this information
  • What happens after your Tier 4 visa is granted (things to do before and after Travelling to the UK)

Applying inside the UK (Leave to Remain)

Is there any help when I apply from the UK (Leave to Remain)?

For unconditional offer-holders and students who wish to make their Tier 4 application in the UK, it is possible to apply through the Immigration Service in the International Office. We operate a ‘Check & Send Scheme’, where you can make an appointment to meet a trained immigration adviser in the International Office who will check and help you submit your Tier 4 applications to the Home Office UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI).

Why would you choose to use this scheme? Well, here are some of the advantages:

  • The Check & Send Scheme Service is free to all University students and applicants holding an unconditional offer;
  • Thorough checking of your application and all supporting documentation by qualified and experienced International Student Advisers to give you the best chance of making a successful application;
  • International Student Advisers can write supporting letters explaining any anomalies in your application.
  • In cases where visa expiry is imminent and a further document needs to be submitted which won’t be available until after the visa expires, e.g., an ATAS certificate, the Immigration Service can send this on to connect with your application;
  • The Immigration Service will track the progress of your application and represent you throughout the application process with special access to an allocated Home Office ‘Premium Service Licence Manager’;
  • Secure receipt of your passport, new visa and supporting documents returned to the International Office, so that you won’t need to worry about signing for the delivery, or if you are in temporary accommodation.
  • To make use of this service we advise you to complete as much of the Tier 4 online application form (without submitting), and bring your passport, visa and other supporting documents before making an appointment to see an Adviser. For more details, refer to our Application Process Overview. Please also note that for eligible low risk nationals, you will be required to bring financial evidence and academic qualification (if stated on your CAS) to your appointment as well to avoid the risk of a visa refusal in case you are asked to provide these documents at a later date.

What if I don’t live locally and can’t travel to the University to meet an adviser?

In this case, you will need to make your Tier 4 visa application independently. Make sure that you read the guidance on this website carefully before making your application. If you encounter genuine difficulties, do contact the Immigration Service by email and an adviser will try to help you over email. Ideally you should have received your new Tier 4 visa before you start your course. If it is not possible, you will not be able to complete online enrolment when you are invited to do so. Don’t worry too much though- as long as you can produce suffient evidence that you submitted your Tier 4 application online before your current visa expiry date, and that you have posted your supporting documents by special delivery/ attended an in-person appointment, you should be able to speak to an adviser when you attend the enrolment event and obtain permission to enrol then.

Can I make a Tier 4 application in the UK?

It depends on a number of factors. First, it depends on your current visa type. For example, if you currently hold a Tier 4 student visa, then you are permitted to apply for another Tier 4 visa in the UK. If you currently hold a PBS Dependant Visa, then you will NOT be permitted to apply within the UK.

Second, it depends on the gap between your current visa expiry date and the start date of your new course. If there is no gap (i.e., if your current visa will expire after the new course start date), or, if the gap is 28 days or less, then you will be permitted to make your Tier 4 visa application in the UK. If the gap is more than 28 days, you are not permitted to apply within the UK and you should return to your home country and apply there.

When can I make the Tier 4 application?

If you are in the UK, you must submit your Tier 4 visa application onine on or before the expiry date of your current visa. If you fail to do so, you will be overstaying which is a criminal offence. It is, therefore, important that you give yourself enough time to gather your documents for your application. We would recommend that you put a note in your diary about four months prior to your visa expiry date to remind you to begin preparing your application and supporting documents.

If you have completed one course of study elsewhere in the UK and are applying for a Tier 4 visa to study at another University, you should apply within three months of the new course start date.

If you have completed one course of study and you are applying for a visa to study a new course at same university, your will need to submit an application using a CAS for the new course before you can start the new course of study. If you are unable to do so, you should seek urgent advice from the Immigration Service so that we can advise you further.

If you are going to be continuing on the same course of study but require an extension of your visa to enable you to complete that course, you can make an application to extend your Tier 4 visa as soon as you meet all the requirements. The latest date you can make an application is the expiry date of your current visa.

What documents do I need to make an application?

  • Completed Tier 4 (General) Student online application form
  • Appropriate visa application fee that you will pay online by credit or debit card (£439 per person for a standard postal application, or £839 for a premium in-person application)
  • Appropriate fee that you will pay online by credit or debit card for the Immigration Health Surharge (£150 per applicant, per 12 months of study, to be paid online when submitting the visa application. Part years of 6 months or less will be charged at half price)
  • CAS (to be obtained from either Admissions or Immigration Service)
  • Passport(s) – current passport and any previous passport which contains your current Tier 4 visa
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (if you have been issued one)
  • 1 passport photo (refer to the Home Office photo guidance- remember they need to be taken within the last month)
  • Police Registration Certificate (if your visa/BRP/Home Office document has ‘pol registration’ on it- make sure it is updated with your current address)
  • Evidence confirming you have the required maintenance funds* (not required to submit for eligible low risk nationalities)- see details set out in Paragraph 153-202 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance, and some frequently asked questions about how to evidence money required).
  • Evidence of official financial sponsorship (not required to submit for eligible low risk nationalities) (See definition of ‘official financial sponsor’ in Paragraph 199, and how to evidence official financial sponsorship in Paragraph 205-207 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance). Please note that in most cases, sponsorship by family or relatives are not considered as ‘official financial sponsorship’. If the official sponsor is an international company, the best way to evidence this is to provide print-outs from a website, or a letter including a web-link, which shows contact details for offices in more than one country
  • Evidence of Sponsor’s consent to complete studies (if you have been fully sponsored financially over the last 12 months) (see details set out in Paragraph 47-50 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance)
  • Certificate or transcript of previous studies (if stated on your CAS) (not required to submit for eligible low risk nationalities). Your certificate or transcript must meet the Home Office requirement (see details set out in Paragraph 145-153 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance), note the special provision for students who applied via UCAS and where the qualification is issued by a UK awarding body for a course that they have studied in the UK.
    Certificate of English language qualification (If an English language test has been stated in the ‘Evidence used to obtain offer’ section of your CAS). Do not submit an English language certificate if you will be studying a degree level course AND your CAS states that the University has made own assessment of your English language ability. If you will be studying a sub-degree level course (e.g., Pre-sessional English, Diploma course or International Foundation programme), ensure that you submit the same English language certificate as stated in your CAS, which should be valid at the time you submit your visa application, and is acceptable for visa purposes (see English language Test and Certificate)
  • ATAS certificate (if stated on your CAS)
  • * If you are using a parent or legal guardian’s bank statement as evidence of your finances, you will need to provide documentary evidence (original or notarised copy) of their relationship to you (usually a Birth Certificate or a legal document confirmation guardianship**) and that they agree for you to use the funds for your studies (usually a Letter of Consent).

** The definition is ‘Legal Guardian’ may be different in different countries but for your Tier 4 visa application, a ‘legal guardian’ is someone who has either legally adopted you (in which case you must present an ‘Adoption Certificate’) or someone who has been given legal custody of you by the Court (in which case you must present a court document/order as confirmation of this).

Additional documents which may be required:

  • – If you use an overseas account containing a foreign currency, you will also need to write on your application form the closing balance in pounds sterling on the ‘date of application’, which is the date you made payment of the Tier 4 visa application fees. You should obtain currency conversion by going on the website (this is the Home Office approved currency conversion website) and including a print out from the website with your visa application.
  • – For students with dependants: if your spouse is applying as your dependant at the same time or seperately, you will need to submit your Marriage certificate and evidence that your relationship is subsisting; If you have children applying as your dependant(s) at the same time or seperately, you will also need to submit their Birth Certificate.
  • – If you are 16 or 17 years old when making your visa application, you will also need to provide a parents’ consent letter. The letter must confirm 1) their relationship with you (i.e., they are your legal parents or legal guardians); 2) they agree to your living arrangements in the UK, as well as the arrangements made for your travel to and reception in the UK; and 3) they consent to you travelling independently to, and living independently in, the UK (if you will be living independently in the UK). If you have only one parent or legal guardian, or only one who has legal custody or whole responsibility, this must be confirmed in the letter as well. If this statement is not provided, the letter must be signed by both parents and legal guardians.
  • – If any of your documents are not in English, an English translation must be provided with your visa application (see details set out in Paragraph 16 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance). The University is unable to assist in the translation of documents but there are a couple of local translation companies that may be able to assist you.

Please note that we are not recommending these companies but are simply providing the details. You are advised to check the charge for any translations when you make initial contact with any company.

Alternatively, some embassies may offer a translation service for official documents in their language and there are also qualified individuals and other private companies specialising in translation services. You should, however, ensure that any translations meet all four of the Home Office translation requirements as detailed above.

Do I need to submit original documents?

The Tier 4 Policy Guidance states that documents must be issued by an authorised official of the issuing organisation and be:

  • original (unless we say otherwise); and
  • on the official letter-headed paper or stationery of the organisation

What happens if I have submitted my application independently by post?

You should always send your passport and documents by Royal Mail Special Delivery and retain the receipt until a decision is made on your application. If your application is deemed valid by the Home Office (you have paid the fees and Immigration Health Surcharge successfully, there are no missing documents and your application form is completed correctly), you will receive a letter within 4 weeks of you posting the documents asking you to provide your biometric data (your fingerprints and photo) at a designated Post Office. Once you have provided this information, your application will be forwarded to a caseworker who will make a decision about whether to grant you a visa and if so for how long. Your documents will then be returned to the correspondence address inserted on your application form and your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) will be sent to you usually within a week of when you receive your other documents back. Both your passports and BRP will be sent by ‘signed for’ service so you should ensure that someone is at your home address to sign for the delivery.

What happens if I have submitted my application independently with ‘Premium Service’ option?

Once you have submitted your Tier 4 application form online, you will be given the option as to whether you want to choose the ‘Premium service’. You will have to pay a higher visa application fee to use this service (an additional £400) but this usually means your visa application is processed much quicker. You will need to choose date, time and location (one of the seven ‘visa premium service centre’) for your in-person appointment and once confirmed, make payment of your visa application fee online. You should arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment time, and you will be asked to provide your biometric data (fingerprint and photo) whilst there. You will hand in your documents and wait for a decision. Most of the students will receive the decision on the day, and will be able to keep your passport and documents. You will also receive a ‘decision letter’ confirming that you have been granted permission to study. Your BRP card will be delivered to your ‘correspondence address’ within 7-10 working days. Remember, your BRP will be sent by ‘signed for’ service so you should ensure that someone is at your home address to sign for the delivery.

How long should my visa be valid for?

You will always be given some additional time after your ‘course end’ date to prepare your departure or prepare to switch/ extend your visa. Depending on the type and length of the course you are doing, you may be given between 7 days and 4 months of additional leave. Students pursuing a course that is 12 month or longer should always receive 4 additional months, including students making a visa application to cover a period of academic extension. Make sure that you check your BRP to ensure that your personal details, work permission condition and police registration condition are correct, and that you have received the full length of your visa. If the caseworker has not granted you the amount of leave you are entitled to, you should make an appointment with the Student Union Advice Centre to have it corrected.