Making a Tier 4 Visa Application Inside the UK
This information explains how to apply for a Tier 4 student visa extension from within the UK.
- When to apply for an extension
If you need to extend your student visa from within the UK then you will need to do this through a points-based assessment. Before you read the rest of this information, check the following to make sure that you are able to make a student extension application in the UK:
- If you are applying for a visa in order to start a new course, and this course starts more than 28 days after your visa expiry date, then you will not be able to extend your visa from within the UK and will need to return home to obtain a new visa
- If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa to start a new course, you cannot apply more than 3 months before the start of your new course
- You cannot apply for a Tier 4 student visa in the UK if you currently have a student visitor visa or a dependant visa
- If your course is less than 6 months long, your family members cannot apply to be or remain your dependants. See the advice for families section for more information
You should apply for an extension before your current visa expires if your current visa is not long enough to cover the entire duration of your course or you decide to enrol on a further course of study. If you apply after your visa expiry date you will be an 'overstayer' and this can have a serious impact on your registration status at Sussex and visa application. Please see the 'Protecting your immigration status' section for more detailed information on overstaying.
You are strongly advised to start completing your application form and start gathering your documentation at least two months before your visa expires. Please remember it often takes time to get all the required documentation.
- How to extend your stay as a Tier 4 (general) student
To extend your student visa, you must pass a points-based assessment scoring 40 points.
- 30 points for a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a licensed sponsor (your education provider i.e. the University of Sussex)
- 10 points if you can show you have sufficient finances to cover your course fees and monthly living expenses for up to 12 months (known as maintenance)
If you are starting a new course at Sussex the relevant office will email you with your CAS number after your offer is unconditionally confirmed. If you are continuing on the same course at Sussex the Student Progress and Assessment Office will produce your CAS and then an International Student Adviser will contact you to establish you meet the financial requirements of the visa application. Your CAS number will only be released after you have met with the adviser and they are happy you can make a valid application.
CAS' are valid for 6 months from the date of issue, but new students cannot apply for the visa more than three months before the course start date. Students applying to continue on a course of study can apply at any point. If your visa application is refused you need a new CAS number each time you apply.
Please contact the relevant office if you have questions concerning when your CAS will be issued:
Undergraduate applicants: firstname.lastname@example.org
Postgraduate applicants: email@example.com
Visiting & Exchange students: firstname.lastname@example.org
English Language students: email@example.com
Continuing students: firstname.lastname@example.org
International Summer School: email@example.com
If you already have a valid visa or immigration permission which permits study (such as a dependant visa, spouse visa, indefinite leave to remain) and do not require a CAS, please let the relevant office know.
To make a tier 4 visa application, you should make the application online via the Home Office website. Click on 'Forms A-Z' and choose 'Tier 4 Student Online Application'. The ISAO has produced a Guide to completing the Tier 4 Student online application [PDF 540.18KB] to help you with the application. As stated on the guide, it is important that you do not proceed past the 'Check Application' stage if you want an adviser to check your application/documents. Once you have passed this stage you will not be able to amend any information on your application.
You will have two options on how to submit your application and will be prompted to choose one of the following at the end of the online process when you pay:
- standard application - this will cost £406 and after you have submitted the online application you will need to post a cover sheet and your supporting documents to the Home Office within 15 working days. With this option the date of your application will be when you submit the application online and this should be done before your current visa expiry date. If you do not post your documents within the 15 day timeframe your application will be rejected as invalid. You should receive a decision within 8 weeks from the date of application. If the Home Office cannot make a decision within this timeframe they will write to you and notify you of this. If you need your application to be processed quickly (maybe due to travel plans) we recommend you apply using the premium service.
- premium in-person appointment - this will cost £781. If you choose this option you will be able to book an appointment at one of the Home Office public enquiry offices (PEO) and will submit your cover sheet and supporting documents at the appointment. With this option the date of your application will be when you submit the application online and this should be done before your current visa expiry date. However, the appointment can take place after your visa expiry date if necessary, but must be within 45 days of the date of application. If you fail to attend the appointment and do not enrol your biometrics, your application will be rejected as invalid and you will become an overstayer from the date your visa expired. The advantage of this service is that you should receive a decision on the day of your appointment, and your visa will be posted to you around 10 working days later.
- Documents needed to extend your visa
You will need to send the following documents to the Home Office after you have submitted your application online, or take them with you to your in-person appointment. It is recommended that you take photocopies of all the documents you send to the Home Office. Please note that we only list the mandatory documents here, and it might be necessary for you to submit further documentation depending on your individual circumstances:
The online application cover sheet/declaration listing the supporting documents you are including
a current passport or travel document
photos - two passport sized colour photographs. These must comply with the requirements in the Home Office photo guidance.
documents that show you have adequate funds (maintenance) available. For universities outside London (like Sussex), you will need to show the following amount of money:
Length of Course Money needed - course fees and living costs Nine months or less Course fees and £800 for each month of the course More than nine months First year of course fees and £7200 to cover your first year in the UK
The only exception to the above calculation is if you qualify for what the Home Office call 'established presence'. You qualify if you have a current Tier 4 or student visa and have finished a single course that was at least six months long within your last visa OR are applying for continued study on a single course where you have completed at least six months of that course. If you have an established presence in the UK you only need to show £800 for each month of your course, up to a maximum of 2 months (£1600). You can demonstrate this money in a number of ways:
Money held in account owned by you or your parents
You need to show evidence that this money has been in your or your parent's account for a consecutive 28 day period before you submit your application and your evidence needs to be less than 31 days old at the time of application. You will also need to sign a declaration stating that the funds are genuinely available for the purpose of funding your study and upkeep in the UK. The Home Office reserve the right to check that these funds continue to be available to you, if they have concerns regarding your ability to support yourself.
Official financial sponsorship or government sponsorship
Financial sponsorship is where you are given money to cover some or all of your course fees and/or living costs. The most common financial sponsors are your home government, a international organisation or your Tier 4 sponsor. Please see paragraphs 184-186 of the Tier 4 policy guidance for a full definition. If the University of Sussex is your financial sponsor (as you have been awarded a scholarship or a fee waiver), Sussex will need to include details of this on your CAS. Please carefully check your CAS statement to make sure this information has been included, and if in doubt, contact the office that issued the CAS. Please note that if you have been sponsored in the last twelve months you will need to provide a letter from your sponsor confirming unconditional consent to your visa extension.
Money already paid to your Tier 4 sponsor (University of Sussex)
You may wish to pay some or all of your fees and university accommodation in advance, which reduces the total amount you need to show as part of your visa application. Details of these payments (if made) should be included on your CAS statement. If they are not, you will need to download a new CAS statement from your online application account, or request one from the relevant office if you did not apply online. Please note, a maximum of £1,000 paid to the University for accommodation can be deducted from the amount of maintenance required.
Acceptable evidence of maintenance includes: personal bank or building society statements; building society passbook; letter from a bank; letter from a regulated financial institution confirming funds or loan will be released to you when you get your visa; letter of official financial or government sponsorship. You can find full details of these requirements in paragraphs 187-204 of the Tier 4 policy guidance. Please read these requirements very carefully as incorrect financial documentation is the most common reason for visa refusal. Note the additional documentation that is required if using money held by your parents. If you are considering using a Chinese Certificate of Deposit as proof of your funds the UKBA give additional guidance on this in page 93-94 of the modernised guidance.
documents used by your Tier 4 sponsor when they accepted you onto the course. You will need to show your original qualification certificates or any other education documents you used to obtain your offer of a place at Sussex. When we produce your CAS we will include the list of qualifications used for admission, which you will need to show when applying for your visa. If you are continuing on a course of study you may have been 'assessed on progress', and it will not be necessary for your to include these certificates.
translations - if a document is not in English it must be accompanied by a fully certified translation. Please see paragraph 13 of the tier 4 policy guidance for full details of what the translation must include.
your biometric details. As part of your application, you will need to enrol your fingerprints and facial image (known as 'biometric information') at a specified Post Office. The Home Office will write to you with details on how to do this. If you are using the premium service and applying in-person, then you will enrol your biometrics on the day of your application.
Police Registration Certificate - you will need to include this if you have a requirement to register with the police. It is important that it's up to date with your current address. Please see the police registration section for more information.
non-EEA students who intend to study in certain science or technology-based subjects are required to obtain a clearance certificate through ATAS before they can apply for a visa or a visa extension. If this applies to you details about this UK Government scheme will be sent with your offer letter, or with your CAS. In order to obtain the certificate, you will need to complete a online application form prior to submitting a visa application (at no charge). For more information about ATAS, refer to the ATAS section in the menu to the left.
- Low Risk Nationals
Nationals of some countries do not need to provide evidence of their qualifications or their money when they apply for a Tier 4 visa. The Home Office calls this the "differentiation agreements" for "low risk students". You need to refer to the Home Office list of low risk nationals, and if your country is on this list and you are applying for your visa in the country of your nationality, you will not need to submit educational and financial documentation with your application. When completing the appendix 8 form you will have to choose the option 'Evidence not required under guidance but held by applicant' at various points.
It is very important that as a "low risk" student you still obtain the evidence of your qualifications and your money, even though you do not need to send them. This is because the Home Office can request this evidence as part of their decision process and they will refuse your application if you are unable to provide it within a specified timeframe.
- List of unacceptable financial institutions
The Home Office has published its lists of financial institutions that do not verify financial statements to the satisfaction of the UK Government. The Home Office has also published lists of institutions in those countries that do satisfactorily verify financial statements. If your money is with a financial institution in a different country, this information does not apply to you.
If you apply with financial documents issued by these institutions, the Home Office will refuse your application. You should ensure that your funds are in an account with one of the institutions that is acceptable to the Home Office before you make your immigration application.
- What happens after I have submitted my application and how long will it take?
If applying in-person you should receive a decision on the day of your appointment and your visa should be posted to you within 10 working days.
If applying by post it is important that you show the university proof that you have made the application. Provided you submit the application on or before your visa expiry date you will continue to have valid leave until a decision is made. You will need to show the university the following:
- a postage receipt showing you posted the application on or before your visa expiry date
- a copy of the acknowledgement letter you will receive from the Home Office approx. 1-2 weeks after submitting your application
Approx. 1-2 weeks after you have received the acknowledgement letter, the Home Office should send you a biometrics letter which will give you instructions on how to enrol your biometric information (fingerprints and photo). From the date of application (when you submit and pay online) the Home Office should write to you with a decision within 8 weeks. It is very important that if you move addresses during this time you inform the Home Office via their online change of address form.
- What is a Biometric Residence Permit and what length of visa should I get?
When you receive your visa it will not be a vignette (sticker) in your passport, but will be a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). It is very important that on receipt of your BRP you bring it to the university so we can take a scan (we are required to do this by law). It is also important to check that all the details on your BRP are correct, including:
- your name, nationality and date of birth
- your visa expiry date. For a course of 12 months or longer your visa should be the length of the course plus four months. If your course is six months or longer but under 12 months your visa should be the length of your course plus two months. If you course is less than six months your visa should be the length of the course plus seven days. For pre-sessional courses which are under six months long your visa should be the length of your course plus one month.
- university sponsor number - this should be P2W0CWXJ9
- your working conditions (see the working during your study section on the left for more information)
- police registration condition if applicable (see the police registration section on the left for more information)
- What if my application is refused or rejected?
There are two different types of negative decisions that you can receive from the Home Office:
- Rejection of an invalid application. This is when the Home Office reject your application because your photos are not correct or a mandatory document is missing from your application. You will receive a invalid letter from the Home Office and they will return your documents
- Refusal of your application. This is when the Home Office refuse your application because it does not meet the immigration rules or something is incorrect about the documentation you have submitted. You will receive a refusal notice from the Home Office but they will most likely keep your documentation and passport
In both these instances it is vital that you contact an International Student Adviser for advice as soon as possible. An adviser will be able to run through your options. Please see the 'Problems with your visa application' section to the left for more detailed information.
- Switching institutions
There are immigration implications if you are currently in the UK on a non-Sussex Tier 4 student visa and want to enrol at Sussex (this includes students who have been studying with the International Study Centre). If you applied for your current Tier 4 student visa before 5 October 2009 and you still have leave remaining which you want to use to study at Sussex, you will need to obtain permission from the Home Office by completing a Permission to Switch application form (cost £160). It will be necessary for Sussex to see proof that you have sent this application before we can enrol you, so please keep a copy of the postage receipt or acknowledgment letter from the Home Office and bring it to registration with you.
If you applied for your current Tier 4 student visa on or after 5 October 2009, this visa will be tied to your previous Tier 4 sponsor. Before we can enrol you at Sussex, we will need to see proof that you have made an application to the Home Office using a University of Sussex CAS. You will need to bring your postage receipt or a letter from the Home Office to registration to show you have made this application. Please see the Registration Issues section to the left for more information on this.
Your partner and children may be able to apply to extend their stay with you as dependants. For further information refer to our Advice for Families section on the left. You can also find more information on the family section of the Home Office website.