Applying for your student visa
The following information is designed to help international undergraduate 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 at that university and that the university wishes to admit you. The university uses an online system to provide UKBA with your details (both personal details, i.e. 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, there are four main criteria you need to meet:
(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;
(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. We cannot issue a CAS if we are your insurance choice and will only be able to process a CAS if and when you are placed at Sussex as your firm/first choice;
(4) Finally, 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 need to confirm that you want a visa so that we can issue you with a CAS and undertake all the necessary checks to make sure you are eligible for a CAS under UKBA’s rules. You will be asked to check that we hold all the correct personal information about you (for example, the correct spelling of your name, the correct date of birth etc) and you may need to provide us with additional information before we can issue the CAS.
The information below should explain how we will help you ensure you meet the four criteria set out above.
As an undergraduate applicant, how do I get a CAS?
We will email all overseas applicants to ask if you require a visa to study in the UK. You may have already supplied the required information via the UCAS Apply service, but in case you have not yet supplied this information, or because it's possible this information has changed since you submitted the application, we will email and ask you about your visa requirements. If we ask you about your visa needs, please respond as fully and quickly as possible. A delay in confirming this information will delay the production of your CAS.
We will ask you to provide any missing information, (for example, your passport details). Please scan and email us a copy of the identity page of your passport. As this is the information that will be given to UKBA, you must provide the passport that you will use to apply for your visa and enter the UK. You must notify us if you intend to apply for a new passport or if your passport is due to expire soon. If you hold a current visa, please include a copy of this too.
If your offer is unconditional and you have firmly accepted it (and if we have verified all your declared qualifications) we will send you a summary of your information to check before submitting the details to UKBA in order to obtain your CAS number. Once your offer is unconditional, we will ask you to check everything is correct before sending your details to UKBA in order to obtain your CAS number.
When your CAS number has been issued we will email you a CAS statement, showing your CAS number and details of all the information we have provided to UKBA. If you have made any pre-payments to the University these should appear on your CAS statement, so please check this carefully and contact us immediately if any payments are not shown. If any information on the CAS statement is missing or incorrect, you must contact us immediately as this is the information we have given to UKBA in support of your visa application.
If Sussex is your insurance choice, we will still help to provide a CAS for you, but only if you are unsuccessful with your firm/first choice and are placed with Sussex. Only at the point when you are firmly placed at Sussex with an unconditional offer can we process your CAS.
Do I need the CAS Statement?
The CAS statement is sent to you for your information and records, confirming the information that we have given directly to UKBA. It is the 14-digit CAS number itself (along with the University's sponsor licence number) that you really need. You should keep your CAS number safe until you need to submit it as part of your visa application. The CAS statement is for your information only and does not have to be sent with 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 this is the case, then 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' ATAS is required’ but you have not heard from Sussex about ATAS, please contact the Admissions office (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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 programme 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:
For undergraduate/UCAS applicants
T: +44 (0)1273 678416
The information on this webpage was last updated 27 April 2012