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Tier 4 Student Visas

You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:

  • have been offered a place on a course
  • can speak, read, write and understand English
  • have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
  • are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
  • meet the other eligibility requirements

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until 2021. You and your family can apply for ‘settled status’ to continue living in the UK after June 2021. The scheme will open fully by March 2019.

Speak to our assessment team now to confirm your eligibility and options for free on 0203 384 4389.

Further Information

Documents You'll Need To Provide

As part of the application process, you need to provide proof of your name, age and nationality. For example your:

  • valid passport
  • birth certificate
  • national identity card from the European Economic Area (EEA)or Switzerland
  • certificate of registration
  • certificate of naturalisation
  • biometric residence card or permit
  • travel document

If you’ve changed your name, you must bring proof – eg a copy of a deed poll.

The registrar also needs proof of your address, for example a:

  • valid UK or EEA driving licence
  • gas, water or electricity bill from the last 3 months
  • bank or building society statement from the last month
  • council tax bill from the last 12 months
  • mortgage statement from the last 12 months
  • current tenancy agreement
  • letter from your landlord confirming you live there and including your landlord’s name, address and their signature dated within the last 7 days

Some local register offices require a photo ID but we will advise you if this is the case.

You might need other documents if you don’t have a valid passport and you were born after 1983 but we will check and confirm this for you.

You each need to pay a £35 fee when you attend the register office to give notice. It can be more if you or your partner are from outside EEA or Switzerland.

If you’ve been divorced or widowed

If you’ve been married or in a civil partnership before, you need to take either:

  • a decree absolute or final order
  • the death certificateof your former partner

Overseas divorces and annulments

A divorce will usually be recognised in England and Wales if it was valid in the country where it took place.

You need to take your divorce or annulment documents to the register office if they were granted outside of the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

The registrar may need to get in touch with the General Register Office (GRO) to confirm whether your marriage or civil partnership can go ahead. If they do, you’ll have to pay a fee of between £50 and £75. The fee will be confirmed once GRO have seen your documents.

When to apply

The earliest you can apply for a visa is 3 months before you start your course.

How long you can stay

You can arrive in the UK before your course starts:

  • up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less
  • up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months

How long you can stay depends on the kind of course you’re doing and what study you’ve already completed.

What you can and can't do

You can:

  • study
  • work as a student union sabbatical officer
  • apply from inside or outside the UK
  • apply to extend your stay
  • work in most jobs – depending on what level your course is and what kind of sponsor you have

You can’t:

  • get public funds
  • work in certain jobs, for example professional sportsperson or sports coach
  • study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school)

You may be able to bring in family members (dependants).

Eligibility

You must have:

  • an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor
  • enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances

Your course

You can do a course that’s one of the following:

  • full-time leading to a qualification that’s at least level 6 on the Ofqual register
  • part-time leading to a qualification that’s at least level 7 on the Ofqual register
  • an overseas course of degree level study that’s equal to a UK higher education course and is being run by an overseas higher education institution
  • full-time, with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study, leading to a qualification which is at least level 3 on the Ofqual register
  • a recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist

Postgraduate doctors and dentists

You can apply for this visa if you’re sponsored to do a recognised foundation programme and you’ve:

  • finished a recognised UK degree in medicine or dentistry
  • received that degree from a registered Tier 4 sponsor
  • spent your final year and at least 1 other year of studies leading to that degree in the UK

Confirmation of acceptance for studies

Your education provider will send you a reference number called a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) once they’ve offered you a place on a course. You’ll need to enter this on your visa application.

You must apply for your visa no more than 6 months after you receive theCAS.

If you’ve studied in the UK before

You can only get a CASin certain situations if you’re applying from within the UK.

If you’re continuing your studies

You can get a CAS if you’re:

  • re-sitting exams or repeating modules
  • applying for the first time to a new institution to complete a course you started at an institution that lost its Tier 4 sponsorship
  • applying to extend your stay to complete your studies because you’ve done (or want to do) a work placement or study abroad programme
  • completing a PhD or other doctorate that you started studying under your last Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • applying after working as a student union sabbatical officer to complete a qualification you started studying under your last Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • continuing your medical, dentistry or medical science degree after completing an intercalated course

If you’re starting a new course

You can get a CAS if your course is one of the following:

  • at a higher academic level than your previous course
  • at the same level and related to your previous course or career aspirations – it must be degree level or above at a Higher Education Institution (HEI)
  • intercalated to a medicine, dentistry or medical science course you started studying under a Tier 4 (General) student visa

If you’re applying to work in the UK

You can get a CAS if you’re applying to either:

  • work as a student union sabbatical officer
  • stay in the UK to look for work after you’ve finished your PhD or doctorate – the ‘Doctorate Extension Scheme’ (DES)

Knowledge Of English

You must prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

This usually means passing a secure English language test (SELT).

HEIs can choose how to assess a student’s knowledge of English. They must still be at:

  • CEFR level B2 if you’re studying at a degree level or higher
  • SELT in reading, writing, listening and speaking and CEFR level B1 if you’re not studying at a degree level

If you have to pass a SELT, it must be from an approved provider.

Exceptions

You don’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree in:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • UK
  • USA

You also don’t need to prove your knowledge of English if one of the following apply:

  • you’re a national of Canada or any of the countries in the list above
  • you have studied in the UK before as a Tier 4 (Child) student
  • you’re applying to come to the UK for a study abroad programme as part of a university degree course in the USA

Documents you must provide

When you apply for the visa you must provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • proof that you can support yourself and pay for your course – this will vary depending on your circumstances
  • proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if you’re under 18
  • proof of your relationship with your parent or guardian
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

You need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa.

You may also need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Your documents will usually be sent back within 14 days.

Extend your visa

You may be able to stay longer to continue your course or study a new one.

You must:

  • meet the eligibility requirements of this visa
  • be in the UK
  • have a sponsor

Who can sponsor you

You can only apply to extend your leave to study if your current sponsor is:

  • a higher education institute (HEI)
  • an overseas HEI
  • an embedded college offering pathway courses
  • an independent school

You must include your dependants in your application if they’re on your current visa, including children who have turned 18 during your stay.

Switch to this Visa

You may be able to change (switch) to a Tier 4 (General) student visa if you’re in the UK under any of the following visas or schemes:

  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer)
  • Tier 2 (Minister of religion)
  • Tier 4 (Child)

You should include any dependants who are on your current visa on your application to extend – including children who have turned 18 during your stay.

Family Members

Your family members (dependants) might be able to apply to join or remain with you in the UK if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA)or Switzerland.

A dependant is either:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner
  • your unmarried or same-sex partner
  • your child under 18 years old – including if they were born in the UK during your stay

You can apply to bring a dependant to the UK if you’re:

  • sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at level 7 on the Ofqual register or above that lasts 9 months or more
  • a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months
  • a Doctorate Extension Scheme student

They’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of their application. Check how much they’ll have to pay before they apply.

Savings

You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.

Each dependant must have a certain amount of money available to them – this is in addition to the money you must have to support yourself.

The amount of money you need depends on:

  • the length of your course
  • where you’re studying in the UK
  • whether you’ve finished a UK course or are currently studying

You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 28 days before you or they apply.

Dependants applying in the UK

You should apply for your dependants’ visas at the same time as you extend or switch your own visa.

If you can’t do it at the same time, your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visas at a later date.

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