Applying for your student visa
The following information is designed to help international postgraduate applicants who need to apply for a visa to study in the UK. It is specifically aimed at those requiring a Tier 4 (General) Student visa and the need for those applicants to obtain a 'Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies' (CAS).
What sort of visa do I need?
If you require a visa to study in the UK and you are joining a course that lasts for more than 6 months then you will normally need to apply for a Tier 4 general student visa from the UK Border Agency (UKBA). If you are unclear about whether you need a visa or what visa it should be then the UKBA website has more detail.
How do I apply for a Tier 4 visa?
You will find details of how to apply for a visa on our immigration advice pages; as well as on the UKBA website . There is also useful, independent information on the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA website). One of the key features of the Tier 4 (General) Student visa process is the need for your chosen University to provide you a 'Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies' (or CAS) number. The following information concentrates on what the CAS is and how you can obtain one from the University of Sussex in support of your visa application.
What is a CAS?
When you make an application for a Tier 4 (General) Student visa, you will need to provide UKBA with a CAS number. This is a unique identifying number which is issued to you by your chosen university. It is evidence that your chosen university has confirmed to the UKBA that you have an unconditional offer of a place and that the university wishes to admit you. The University uses an online system to provide UKBA with your details (both personal details, like your name, date of birth, passport number; and information about your chosen course and what qualifications you have been admitted on). Once the university sends this information to UKBA, the Border Agency will create a unique CAS number, which will be sent to you by the university and which you need to quote in your visa application.
How do I get a CAS from Sussex?
In order for Sussex to issue you with a CAS, you need to meet the criteria below:
(1) You must have an unconditional offer. If you have an offer, but it is conditional upon current qualifications (either academic results from a course you are still studying and/or evidence of English language ability, such as IELTS) you will need to provide evidence that you have met these conditions before we can issue a CAS. [Note: If you are a postgraduate applicant and your offer is conditional only upon English language ability, and you are eligible to register on the integrated 5-week pre-sessional English course offered by the Sussex Centre for Language Studies (SCLS), it may be possible for a CAS to be issued that covers both the pre-sessional course and your postgraduate degree. Please refer to the SLCS website for more details];
(2) If your offer is unconditional, we will only be able to issue a CAS once we have verified all your declared qualifications. Sometimes we are able to make an offer because you have declared that you have a certain result. In this case we will need to see evidence of the declared qualification before we can issue the CAS. If we need to see any of your qualifications, we will tell you;
(3) You need to have accepted your offer of a place. As the CAS number is linked to your chosen university, you must have accepted your offer at Sussex before we can issue a CAS;
(4) You will need to have told us that you require a visa in order to study in the UK and made sure that we have all the necessary information for inclusion in the CAS. You are asked to do this during the online application. If you indicated that you did not require a visa but now realise that you do, please contact us.
(5) You will need to meet the UKBA rules that, if you have previously studied at higher education level in the UK, you are: (a) progressing to a higher level of study; and (b) will not be exceeding the maximum level of study at higher education level (generally five years for most students with the exception of those studying a PhD).
Please contact us immediately if anything in the CAS statement appears incorrect or missing as this is the information we have given to UKBA in support of your visa application.
Why does my CAS statement show the qualifications used for admission?
As part of your visa application, you are required to show that you have the academic qualifications used to gain your place at university. We are therefore required to include details of your qualifications in the CAS and as part of your visa application you will need to show original documents (transcripts, certificates, etc) to prove that you have the qualifications listed on your CAS. If there is any problem with the qualifications listed for admission, please contact the Admissions Office immediately. Warning: you could be banned from applying for any type of visa to enter the UK if you submit any false or fraudulent documents.
My CAS statement mentions ATAS. What is ATAS?
ATAS is the Academic Technology Approval Scheme. It only applies to certain courses in certain subject areas (information about ATAS can be found on our website). Your CAS statement will confirm whether ATAS clearance is required. If the answer is 'yes', ATAS is required and we should already have sent you separate information about ATAS. You need to gain your ATAS clearance before applying for your visa. If the answer on the statement says 'yes' but you have not heard from Sussex about ATAS please email email@example.com. If you want to find more information about ATAS you can visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website.
When should I get my CAS?
Once a CAS is issued it is valid for a period of up to 6 months. You must therefore apply for your Tier 4 (General) Student visa within 6 months of the CAS being issued, otherwise your visa application will be refused. However, you cannot apply for your visa more than 3 months before your course is due to begin. Visa offices can be very busy and there are frequently long delays at busy times of the year, so we advise you to apply as soon as possible within this 3 month period.
Aside from the CAS what else do I need?
The Tier 4 (General) Student Visa uses a points based system to reach decisions on issuing visas. You need to gain 40 points for the award of the visa. By submitting a CAS from a licensed education provider (sponsor), like Sussex, along with the original documents used to gain your unconditional offer (which are listed in your CAS statement), you will be given 30 points. The remaining 10 points come from showing you have enough money to cover the fees and maintenance (ie. living) costs for attending university. Information about what you have to show in terms of finances can be found on the University's immigration pages, the UKBA website and on the UKCISA website, it is important that the finance information is correct to prevent a visa refusal. These websites will give you detailed guidance on obtaining the Tier 4 visa; whereas this webpage has concentrated on the allocation of the CAS.
Who should I contact if I haven't received my CAS and want to find out what is happening?
If you are in any doubt about the production of your CAS, please do not hesitate to use the following contact details:
T +44 (0)1273 877773
The information on this webpage was last updated 27 April 2012