How to apply for a Tier 4 student visa outside the 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 the required level of English. Check English language requirements by course
- are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) (including Switzerland)
- have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course. You must submit the correct documents and financial evidence when you apply. If you do not, your visa may be refused and we may not be able to issue you another Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to apply again
- meet other eligibility requirements as set out by the UK Government.
Points-based immigration system
To apply for a Tier 4 visa, you need a total of 40 points:
- 30 points will be awarded for a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
- 10 points for showing you have enough money to cover your tuition fees and living costs as specified by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
If you are a student on an undergraduate course, you are not allowed to bring family to the UK unless you are a government-sponsored student studying a course of six months or longer.
You must make a final choice of university before you apply for your visa. When you are issued the visa, it will allow you to study only at that particular institution.
As part of the requirements under the Points-based immigration system, universities must notify UKVI if a student does not register as expected, withdraws from their course, or does not maintain good attendance.
- Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number
We send you your CAS number in a statement when your offer is made unconditional.
This statement includes:
- your CAS number
- the information we sent to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
Check the information in your CAS statement is correct. Contact the office that issued your CAS statement if anything is incorrect.
You must apply for your visa with a CAS from your chosen university. After your CAS is issued if you want to change your course you must contact the relevant Admissions office.
The CAS number can only be used for one Tier 4 application and is valid for six months from the date of issue.
- When to apply
The earliest you can apply for your visa is three months before your course start date. If your course is:
- 12 months or longer, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus four months
- between six and 12 months long, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus two months
- less than six months long, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus seven days.
If you are going to study a pre-sessional course which is less than six months, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus one month.
- Visa application documents
You must include:
- a current passport or other valid travel documents (you need a page in your passport that's blank on both sides for your visa)
- one passport-sized colour photograph with your name written on the reverse side
Check UKVI guidance on photographs
- proof you can support yourself and pay for your course
- valid CAS (include your CAS number in the online Tier 4 form)
- proof of parental/legal guardian consent and your birth certificate (if you’re under 18)
Check paragraphs 224-226 for more information (Home Office policy guidance on Tier 4 PDF)
- original qualification certificates/other education documents used by Sussex when we made our offer to you. This information is on your CAS statement
Check paragraphs 150-154 for acceptable documents (Home Office policy guidance on Tier 4 PDF)
- Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. If you want to study some science or technology-based subjects, you must apply online for a clearance certificate through ATAS before you apply for a visa. We include ATAS information in your offer letter if this applies to you
- your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test.
Check if you need to take a tuberculosis test.
You may also have to provide other documents.
If a document is not in English, it must come with a fully certified translation. See paragraph 17 for more guidance (Home Office policy guidance on Tier 4 PDF). Your documents are normally returned within 14 days.
Tuberculosis test certificate
You might not need to submit a tuberculosis test certificate if you can show evidence with your application that you:
- lived for at least six months in a country where tuberculosis screening is not required by the UK
- have been away from that country for no more than six months.
UKVI don’t state which documents to use as evidence, but we recommend you use immigration stamps in your passport which show when you entered the UK and returned to your home country.
If you don't have immigration stamps, you might be able to use a boarding card for your flight which shows when you left the UK.
- Proof of funds
You must show to UKVI you can pay:
- course fees as stated on your CAS.
- £1,015 for each month of your course, up to nine months (a maximum of £9,135). This includes part months.
You can show you have these funds through:
Money in your or your parents' bank account
You need to show this money has been in your or your parents' account for a consecutive 28-day period. This 28-day period should end no more than 31 days before you submit your application.
You can't use a business account to show funds (even if the business is owned by you or your parents/legal guardian).
You must sign a declaration which states that the funds are genuinely available for funding your study and living costs. UKVI reserve the right to check that these funds continue to be available to you.
Official financial or government sponsorship
Financial sponsorship is where you’re given money to pay for:
- some or all of your course fees
- living costs.
If Sussex is your financial sponsor, this information is on your CAS statement.
If you’re applying to extend your visa on the same course and you’re sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency, you must get your sponsor's consent.
Money paid to Sussex
You can pay some or all of your fees and accommodation costs in advance.
Up to £1,265 of University-managed accommodation costs can be deducted from the amount of maintenance required. This reduces the total amount you need to show as part of your visa application.
If you have made these payments to Sussex, they appear on your CAS statement. If they're not included, contact the office that issued your CAS.
- Acceptable proof of funds evidence
You must submit the correct documents and financial evidence when you apply.
You can download our sample letters and example statements to help you with your application. Your visa may be refused if you don't submit the correct documents.
Acceptable proof of funds evidence include:
- personal bank or building society statements. Download an example UK bank statement [PDF 3.14 MB]
If you're using money held by your parents, you must also provide your original birth certificate and a parental consent letter. Download a sample parental consent letter [PDF 176.31 KB]
- a Certificate of Deposit (documents issued by a bank which confirm you've deposited or invested some money). Download an example certificate of deposit [PDF 1.03 MB]
- a building society passbook
- a bank letter. Download a sample bank letter [PDF 260.41 KB]
- a letter from a regulated financial institution which confirms funds or a loan will be released to you when you get your visa. See paragraph 219 (v) (Home Office policy guidance on Tier 4 PDF) for more information.
- an official financial or government sponsorship letter. Download a sample official sponsorship letter [PDF 141.56 KB].
You can find more requirements information in paragraph 206-223 (Home Office policy guidance on Tier 4 PDF).
Email email@example.com if you have any questions.
- personal bank or building society statements. Download an example UK bank statement [PDF 3.14 MB]
- Different document requirements for some nationals
You don't need to submit education and financial documents with your visa application if you are from one of the countries listed in the Immigration Rules Appendix H and you are applying for your country of nationality.
UKVI calls this 'differentiation agreements' and you still need evidence of your qualifications and your money, even though you don't need to send them.
This is because UKVI can request this evidence as part of their decision process. They will refuse your application if you can't provide this evidence within a specified timeframe.
- How to apply
Attending a visa application centre
You must go to a visa application centre to have your fingerprints and photograph taken for your biometric residence permit (BRP).
You normally have to submit your application documents at the centre.
Many centres have extra ‘user pay services’ (such as priority visa processing and document checks) which you can pay for online or when you go to the centre.
Check your visa application centre website to find out which services they have.
- Credibility interviews
You may be asked to attend a credibility interview (done via a video link) by UKVI.
During the interview, a UKVI staff member will assess if you:
- meet the English language requirements
- are a ‘genuine student’
- can speak English well. If you can't hear the interviewer clearly (for example via the video link), you must tell them so that the interviewer knows that it is a technical problem, and not a comprehension issue.
A report of the interview is sent to the visa officer. The officer will consider the interview report alongside your visa application and supporting documents, and you should ask for a copy of your interview transcript.
If you don't attend your interview, your visa application is likely to be refused.
- Receiving your visa
If your visa is for fewer than six months, it is issued as a vignette (sticker) in your passport. Check the end date is correct.
If your visa is for longer than six months, you receive a 30-day vignette (sticker) in your passport. This allows you to enter the UK and you must travel to the UK during this 30-day period.
When you arrive in the UK, you collect a biometric residence permit (BRP). This is your visa.
The 30 days either starts 30 days before the course start date on your CAS or seven days before your intended date of travel to the UK (as stated on your application), whichever is later.
If you don’t travel to the UK during this 30-day period, you must apply for another vignette if you still want to travel to the UK.
You pay a fee for this new application and give your biometric information again. You don’t have to submit a new Tier 4 application.
- Arriving in the UK
You can arrive in the UK up to one month before your course start date if your course is six months or longer, or a pre-sessional course that is less than six months, .
You can arrive seven days before your course start date if your course is less than six months.
When you arrive in the UK, you must show the Border Force Officer (BFO):
- your 30-day vignette
- the letter that came with your vignette
- copies of your financial documents.
- Collecting your biometric residence permit (BRP)
You must collect your biometric residence permit (BRP) within 10 days of arriving in the UK from the University of Sussex campus.
To collect it, enter an Alternative Collection Location code on your visa application form, and any dependants' forms. This code is provided when your CAS was issued.
You can also collect your BRP from a post office. We send you information on where to collect your BRP before you arrive.