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Tier 4 - General student visa UK

General UK student visa - tier 4

1. Overview - Student visa UK

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 nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.

    When to apply

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

    You’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. You can check visa processing times for your country.

    Fees

    It costs £335 to apply for this visa from outside the UK.

    You must pay £335 per person for any dependants.

    You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

    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).

    Read the full guidance to find out how long you might be able to stay and what you can and can’t do.

    2. Eligibility

    You must have:

    • an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor
      This document lists institutions licensed to sponsor migrant students under Tier 4. It includes information about the category of students they’re licensed to sponsor and their sponsorship rating.
    • enough money to support yourself and pay for your course - the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
    Read the guide and appendix
    1. appendix - Points based system Appendix 8: Tier 4 (General) Student self-assessment
    2. appendix - Guide to supporting documents: Points based system - Tier 4 (General)
    3. appendix - Guide to supporting documents: Points based system - Tier 4 (General) (simplified Chinese)
    for the full list of documents and how much money you’ll need.

    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
    • 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 the CAS.

    Further study in the UK

    You can only get a CAS for a new course if you’ve studied in the UK before and 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’s lost its Tier 4 sponsorship
    • applying to complete a PhD or other doctorate that you started studying under your last Tier 4 (General) student visa
    • studying for a new qualification at a higher academic level
    • studying for a new qualification 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)
    • applying after working as a student union sabbatical officer to complete a qualification you started studying under your last Tier 4 (General) student visa

    3. 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).

    Where you’re studying What you’re studying Knowledge of English needed Level
    Higher education institution (HEI) Degree level or above Reading, writing, listening and speaking Equivalent to CEFR (Common European Framework for languages) level B2
    Institution that’s not HEI Degree level or above SELT in reading, writing, listening and speaking CEFR level B2
    Any institution Below degree SELT in reading, writing, listening and speaking CEFR level B1

    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
    Your test needs to be from an approved provider.

    Check the full visa guidance for detailed information.

    Exeptions

    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

    4. 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.

    Read the guidance and appendix for the full list of documents and how much money you’ll need according to your situation.

    5. Apply

    You should read the full guidance before you apply.

    You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

    Apply outside the UK

    You must apply online for a Tier 4 (General) student visa.

    You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of your application.

    You’ll have to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when you said you’d arrive in the UK (even if you actually arrive at a later date).

    You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

    North Korea

    You can’t apply online if you’re living in North Korea.

    To apply from North Korea you must:

    Apply in the UK

    Check if you can apply from inside the UK to:

    • extend your existing Tier 4 (General) student visa
    • switch to this visa from another visa

    6. 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

    • 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.

    Read the full Tier 4 guidance before you apply.

    When to apply

    You must apply:

    • within 6 months of getting a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
    • before your current visa expires - but no more than 3 months before the course start date on your CAS

    You can stay in the UK until you get your decision.

    Ways to apply

    If you want to get a decision more quickly than the standard 8 weeks, you can apply:

    • for priority service - there’s a limited number of places each day
    • to use a premium service centre - you’ll need to go in person
    Application type Time for a decision Cost per person
    Standard 8 weeks £457
    Priority 10 days £916
    Premium Same day £1,047

    You’ll also need to provide biometric information and pay the healthcare surcharge.

    Apply for the standard or premium service

    You can apply online:

    • for the standard service
    • to book an appointment at a premium service centre

    Pay the appropriate fee at the same time.

    Apply for the priority service

    You must fill in a request form before you can use the priority service. Send it to the email address on the form.

    Only the first 60 requests received each day after 8:30am (Monday to Friday) are accepted - you’ll get an email saying if you’ve been successful.

    Once you’ve been accepted for the priority service you should apply online for yourself and any dependants within 24 hours. Pay the fee at the same time.

    Send your supporting documents by registered post or courier to the address given in the priority service acceptance email. Send your dependants’ documents in the same envelope.

    Your documents should reach UK Visas and Immigration no later than two days after you applied.

    Provide your biometric information

    For all applications you must also provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo). You can do this at:

    • some Post Office branches (this costs £19.20)
    • a premium service centre if you’ve paid to use one
    • a premium service centre if you’ve paid to use one

    You’ll be told when you need to provide your biometric information for the standard or priority service. You’ll have to do it within 2 working days if you’re using the priority service.

    You’ll get a biometric residence permit if your application to extend your visa is successful.

    Pay the healthcare surcharge

    For all applications you must also pay the healthcare surcharge for each person. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply for your extension.

    What happens next

    You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example because:

    • your supporting documents need to be verified
    • you need to attend an interview
    • of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)

    7. 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.

    When to apply

    You must apply:

    • within 6 months of getting a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
    • before your current visa expires - but no more than 3 months before the course start date on your CAS

    You can stay in the UK until you get your decision.

    Ways to apply

    If you want to get a decision more quickly than the standard 8 weeks, you can apply:

    • for priority service - there’s a limited number of places each day
    • to use a premium service centre - you’ll need to go in person
    Application type Time for a decision Cost per person
    Standard 8 weeks £457
    Priority 10 days £916
    Premium Same day £1,047

    You’ll also need to provide biometric information and pay the healthcare surcharge.

    Apply for the standard or premium service

    You can apply online:

    • for the standard service
    • to book an appointment at a premium service centre

    Pay the appropriate fee at the same time.

    Apply for the priority service

    You must fill in a request form before you can use the priority service. Send it to the email address on the form.

    Only the first 60 requests received each day after 8:30am (Monday to Friday) are accepted - you’ll get an email saying if you’ve been successful.

    Once you’ve been accepted for the priority service you should apply online for yourself and any dependants within 24 hours. Pay the fee at the same time.

    Send your supporting documents by registered post or courier to the address given in the priority service acceptance email. Send your dependants’ documents in the same envelope.

    Your documents should reach UK Visas and Immigration no later than two days after you applied.

    Provide your biometric information

    For all applications you must also provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo). You can do this at:

    • some Post Office branches (this costs £19.20)
    • a premium service centre if you’ve paid to use one

    You’ll be told when you need to provide your biometric information for the standard or priority service. You’ll have to do it within 2 working days if you’re using the priority service.

    You’ll get a biometric residence permit if your application to extend your visa is successful.

    Pay the healthcare surcharge

    For all applications you must also pay the healthcare surcharge for each person. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply for your extension.

    What happens next

    You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example because:

    • your supporting documents need to be verified
    • you need to attend an interview
    • of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)

    8. 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 1 year 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.

    Read the detailed guidance for dependants for how much money you’ll need and the full list of documents you need to provide.
    -This guidance gives the full UK Visas and Immigration policy on applications by ‘PBS dependants’ (the dependant family members of people who have, or are applying for, visas under Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5).

    Dependants applying outside the UK

    Your family members must apply online.

    They’ll need to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of their application.

    They’ll have to collect your biometric residence permit

    within 10 days of when they said they’d arrive in the UK.

    They may be able to get their visa faster or other services depending on what country they’re in - check with the visa application centre.

    North Korea

    Your family members can’t apply online if they’re applying from North Korea.

    Each family member will need to make their own application. They must:

    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.

    They can’t apply in the UK as dependants if they already have a Standard Visitor visa.

    If your dependants want to get a decision more quickly than the standard 8 weeks, they can apply:

    • for priority service - there’s a limited number of places each day
    • to use a premium service centre - they’ll need to go in person
    Application type Time for a decision Cost per person
    Standard 8 weeks £457
    Priority 10 days £916
    Premium Same day £1,047

    You’ll also need to provide biometric information and pay the healthcare surcharge.

    Apply for the standard or premium service

    Your partner or child can apply online:

    • for the standard service
    • to use a premium service centre

    Pay the appropriate fee at the same time.

    Apply for the priority service

    Your dependant must fill in a request form before they can use the priority service. They must send it to the email address on the form.

    Only the first 60 requests received each day after 8:30am (Monday to Friday) are accepted - they’ll get an email saying if they’ve been successful.

    Once they’ve been accepted for the priority service your partner or child should apply within 24 hours. They should pay the fee at the same time.

    They should send their supporting documents by registered post or courier to the address given in the priority service acceptance email.

    Their documents should reach UK Visas and Immigration no later than two days after you applied.

    Biometric information

    Each person applying must also provide their biometric information (fingerprints and a photo).

    They can give their biometric information at:

    They’ll get a biometric residence permit if their application is successful.

    Children born in the UK

    If you have children while you’re in the UK, you can apply online.

    You must do this if you want to travel in and out of the UK with your child.

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