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:

Check if you need to apply for a Tier 4 visa

Download our guide to completing the Tier 4 application online form [PDF 1.02MB]

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. 

How to apply

  • 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:

    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.

    If you use an overseas bank account, you need to convert the currency using oanda, and make sure it remains above the required amount on the date you submit your application online.

    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. 

    See paragraphs 199-204 for more information if you receive official financial sponsorship.

    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:

    You can find more requirements information in paragraph 206-223 (Home Office policy guidance on Tier 4 PDF).

    If you are a national of one of the countries listed in Appendix P of the immigration rules, you can only use funds held in certain banks.

    Email if you have any questions.

  • 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.

    Check the Appendix H list to see if this applies to you.

    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.

  • Costs

    It costs £335 to apply for this visa from outside the UK. If you have any dependants, you must also pay £335 per person.

    You also have to pay a healthcare surcharge. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

  • How to apply

    You must apply online on the UKVI websiteCheck how long your visa will take to process.

    Download our guide to completing the Tier 4 application online from outside the UK [PDF 1.02MB]

    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.

    Find out how to prepare for your credibility interview.

  • 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.