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, 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 and contact an international student adviser immediately if you think you may have overstayed your visa.
You are strongly advised to start completing your application form and start gathering your documentation at least three 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 Systems and Records 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
Masters applicants: email@example.com
PhD applicants: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visiting & Exchange students: email@example.com
English Language students: firstname.lastname@example.org
Continuing students UG and Masters: email@example.com
Continuing students PhD: 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. You will need to enter the Tier 4 sponsor number for Sussex at the beginning of the process, which is P2W0CWXJ9. The application you need to choose is Tier 4 Student Online Application. We have 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 £439 and after you have submitted the online application you will need to post a cover sheet and your supporting documents to UKVI 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 on or 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 UKVI 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 £839. If you choose this option you will be able to book an appointment at one of the UKVI 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 on or 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 within 10 working days.
- Documents needed to extend your visa
You will need to send the following documents to UKVI 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 UKVI. All documents should be original unless otherwise stated. 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 £820 for each month of the course More than nine months First year of course fees and £7380 to cover your first year in the UK
Any length of course but where you have 'established presence'*
Course fees as detailed on youe CAS and £820 per month of your course up to a maximum of two months - maximum amount of £1640
*If you have previously studied in the UK, you may be allowed to have a lower amount of money as you have an ‘established presence’ in the UK. You qualify for established presence if you have a Tier 4 visa which has not yet expired on the date of your new application, AND if within that visa period you finished a single course which was at least six months long OR are applying for continued study on a single course where you have completed at least six months of that course.
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 parents' 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. UKVI 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, an international organisation or your Tier 4 sponsor. Please see paragraphs 171-173 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 also note that if you are applying to extend your visa on the same course (such as a PhD student extending or a UG extending due to a repeat year) and you are sponsored by a government or internationoal scholarship agency, you will need to obtain your sponsor's consent to make the visa application. Full details of these requirements can be found in paragraphs 45-48 of the policy guidance.
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 £1,020 paid to the University for university managed 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 145-191 of the Tier 4 policy guidance. Please read these requirements very carefully as incorrect financial documentation is the most common reason for visa refusal. If using bank statements as evidence pay close attention to the requirements in paragprah 188. 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 UKVI give additional guidance on this in page 97-98 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 15 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. UKVI 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 is 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 an 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.
- Immigration Health Charge
From 6 April 2015 many people who need immigration permission to come to or stay in the UK will be charged an additional sum as part of their immigration application. This will entitle them to receive the same free health services that UK citizens receive under the National Health Service. The health charge will be paid by non-EEA nationals who apply to come to the UK to work, study or join family for a time-limited period of more than 6 months. It will also be paid by non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and apply to extend their stay for any length of time. Australian and New Zealand nationals are exempt from the charge, along with some other categories. Full details can be found on the UKVI website.
This sum is an annual amount (£150 per student and each dependant) and applicants will be charged the annual amount for each year of the maximum period of leave which could be granted under the immigration rules. If this period of leave includes part of a year that is 6 months or less, the amount payable for that part of a year is half the specified amount, ie £75 for students and dependants. If the period of leave includes part of a year that is more than 6 months, the full annual amount is payable. Given the structure of courses at Sussex this is likely to result in the following additional charges for students applying for a Tier 4 student visa to study:
- Undergraduate courses 3 years (total approx. visa time issued 3 years 2 months): £525
- Undergraduate courses 4 years (total approx. visa time issued 4 years 2 months): £675
- Taught Masters students - Masters, PG diploma (total approx. visa times issue 1 year 5 months): £225
- Research Students - PhD, MPHIL (total approx. visa time issued 4 years 5 months): £675
The above calculations are based on standard courses at Sussex. However, you should always check the course dates as stated on your CAS as this will determine the level of charge. The immigration health charge is paid separately from the immigration application and requires separate registration through the gov.uk website. This tool, called the IHS portal, assesses whether the charge is payable and its level. A short online questionnaire calculates the level of charge without the need for registration, but payment has to be carried out through the portal.
It is essential that payment is made before you submit your visa application, as you will be issued an IHS reference number that you will need to include with your visa application. Even if you qualify for exemption (for example because you are a Australian or New Zealand national) you will still need to complete the process and include this reference number with your visa application.
Currently, there are a number of issues with the online payment system not calculating the correct charge. Hopefully these will be resolved in the coming months. In the meantime, the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) have produced a summary of the charge and outlined the problems. Please read through this information and let us know if you have any questions.
- 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, you will not need to submit educational and financial documentation with your application.
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:
- if you made a Tier 4 student online application, we need to see the cover sheet from your online visa application showing the submission date. If you made a Tier 4 print and send application we need to see the postage receipt showing the date you posted your application to UKVI
- copy of your previous visa so we can see that you submitted the application before your current visa expired. If you submitted the application after your visa expiry date it will not be possible for us to register you.
Approx. 1-2 weeks after you have received the acknowledgement letter, UKVI 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) UKVI should write to you with a decision within 8 weeks. It is very important that if you move addresses during this time you inform UKVI via their online change of address form.
You may be asked to attend a credibility interview as part of the application process (this does not apply if you have opted for a premium in-person appointment). During this interview a member of UKVI staff will assess whether you meet the English language requirements, and also if you are a 'genuine student.' This may involve questions about your course, why you chose to study your subject, how you are funding your studies and how you meet the English language requirements for the course. You may also be asked about your plans upon completion of the course. If you are asked to attend such an interview you must do so (unless you have a good reason as to why you cannot), otherwise your application is likely to be refused.
UKVI will send you a letter if you are to be called to interview and give you the location. You should follow the instructions on the letter and respond as soon as possible. If you have any questions contact an international student adviser. Unfortunatley the interview may not be local to Brighton and may involve some travel. Once the interview has taken place you should receive a decision on your application through the post. Please note that if you are called for interview your application is likely to be delayed beyond the normal 8 week processing time.
- 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 on or after 5 October 2009, this visa will be tied to your previous Tier 4 sponsor, and we will not be able to register you at Sussex on this visa. Before we can enrol you at Sussex, we will need to see proof that you have made an application to UKVI using a University of Sussex CAS. Full details of what evidence we need to see can be found on our registration pages.
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 Home Office website here.
- Babies born in the UK since 6th April 2015 - If you have recently had a baby or are due to, please be aware that access to secondary health services e.g. hospitals, has changed since the introduction of the immigration health surcharge on 6th April 2015. Please see this helpful UKCISA page for information on the changes in general http://www.ukcisa.org.uk/International-Students/Study-work--more/Health-and-healthcare/Who-is-entitled-to-free-hospital-treatment-after-6-April-2015/ but especially note that babies born in the UK are no longer able to access secondary NHS services for free once they are over 3 months old. This means that to ensure any babies born to Tier 4 students after this date are covered by the NHS, you will need to make a Tier 4 dependant visa application for them and receive a successful outcome, before they are 3 months old. As a postal application may take longer than this time, we see no alternative than to advise students to consider making a Tier 4 premium application, to ensure that you get a decision quickly and before the baby reaches 3 months. The only alternative would be to ensure you have private healthcare insurance for the baby. UKCISA are currently querying this policy with the UKVI and if we receive alternative advice, we will let you know. Otherwise, please ensure that you act quickly to ensure your new baby is covered by the NHS and please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss this further.