How to apply for a Tier 4 visa in the UK
Find out all you need to know about applying for a Tier 4 visa within the UK, including visa application documents, when and how to apply, and credibility interviews.
Please read the following news update from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) on taking your Biometrics and scanning your documents.
You must have current leave in one of the following categories to extend your Tier 4 visa within the UK:
You can also change (switch) to a Tier 4 visa. Check if you’re eligible to switch
If you are a current student and you need extra time to complete your course, contact one of our immigration advisers to check if you can apply in the UK.
To extend your student visa, you must pass a points-based assessment by scoring 40 points. You must score:
- 30 points by supplying a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a licensed sponsor (i.e. the University of Sussex)
- 10 points if you can show you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees and maintenance/living expenses (£1015 per month up to a maximum of nine months, £9135).
- Applying if you have Tier 4 (General) leave
If you have Tier 4 (General) leave, you can only apply for a Tier 4 in the UK if your current visa is sponsored by:
- a UK-recognised body, or a body in receipt of public funding as a Higher Education Institution (i.e. the University of Sussex)
- an overseas higher education institution and you have been doing a short-term study abroad programme in the UK
- an Embedded College offering Pathway Courses, such as the International Study Centre (ISC). This does not include pre-sessional courses
- an independent school.
To apply for a Tier 4 visa in the UK, you must have successfully completed, and been awarded, the qualification you have been studying. This must be the same qualification that your current Tier 4 visa was issued for.
If you have not completed your current course (for example, you're studying a Masters and you will not be formally awarded the degree until after you start your new course at Sussex), email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
- When to apply
You can apply up to three months before the course start date on your CAS.
If you are starting a new course, we email you with your CAS number after your offer is unconditionally confirmed.
If you are continuing on the same course, ask for a CAS when you are within six months of your current visa expiry date.
If you already have a valid visa such as a dependant visa, spouse visa, or indefinite leave to remain and don’t need a CAS, let the relevant office for CAS queries at Sussex know.
If the new course starts more than 28 days after your visa expiry date, you must return home to get a new visa.
If you apply on or after your visa expiry date, you will be an 'overstayer'. This is an illegal status in the UK.
What happens if you overstay your visa
If you're a new student, we can't register you on your new course.
If you are a current student, you will be withdrawn from your course and you won't be able to apply for a visa in the UK (unless there are exceptional cirumstances for your overstay.)
Email email@example.com if you don't have a current visa and you are an overstayer.
- Apply online for your visa
You must apply online for your visa.
You can apply in three ways:
Standard service (£475)
After you submit your application, send a cover sheet and your supporting documents to UKVI within 15 working days.
Your application date is when you submit the application online. You should apply on or before your current visa expiry date.
UKVI then issue you a letter which tells you how to enrol your biometric information for your biometric residence permit.
If you submitted your application on or after 14 September 2017 the letter will be generated online when you submit the application (UKVI will not post your letter to you) and you can download and print the letter at the same time as you print your document checklist.
You should receive a decision within eight weeks from the application date.
Priority service (£952)
UKVI process your application within 10 working days, as long as you post your documents and enrol your biometrics within two working days of submitting your application.
Premium service (£1,085)
You book an appointment at a UKVI premium service centre and submit your cover sheet and supporting documents at the appointment.
You will receive a decision on the day of your appointment, and your visa will be sent to you within 10 working days.
The date of your application is when you submit the application online. You should apply on or before your current visa expiry date.
The appointment can take place after your visa expiry date, but must be within 45 days of the date of application.
Your application will be rejected if you do not attend the appointment and enrol your biometrics, and you will become an overstayer if your current visa has expired.
- Visa application documents
- a current passport or other valid travel documents
- two passport-sized colour photograph with your name written on the reverse side
Check UKVI guidance on photographs
- documents to show that you have adequate funds (see Proof of Funds and Acceptable Proof of Funds sections below)
- valid CAS
- proof of parental or other legal guardian consent and your birth certificate (if you’re under 18)
Speak to an immigration advisor if this applies to you
- original qualification certificates/other education documents used by Sussex when we made your course offer. This information is on your CAS statement
Check paragraphs 151-154 for acceptable documents (Home Office policy guidance on Tier 4 PDF)
- your original qualification certificates/official transcript confirming that you completed your previous course (as evidence that you're making academic progress). This may be the same as the certificates mentioned above.
- biometric details. You must enrol your fingerprints and facial image (known as 'biometric information') at a specified Post Office
- Police Registration Certificate - 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.
- Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. If you want to study certain science- or technology-based subjects, you must apply for a clearance certificate online through ATAS before applying for a visa.
We include ATAS information in your offer letter if this applies to you.
Make sure you have photocopies of all documents. All documents should be original unless otherwise stated.
You may have to submit other documents depending on your circumstances.
- 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 230 (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 177-233 (Home Office policy guidance on Tier 4 PDF).
Email firstname.lastname@example.org 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 if you are:
- from one of the countries listed in the Immigration Rules Appendix H
- applying in the UK.
However, when you apply, you must still include:
- all other required and relevant documents, including your ATAS or Police registration certificate (if these apply to you)
- if you're applying for a visa extension in the UK: your CAS, stating you have successfully completed your previous course. If it does not state this, you need to submit your original qualification certificate/official transcript confirming you completed your previous course in the UK or a “highly likely to pass” letter from your current institution if you're taking a second Masters or you're a 1+3 PhD student.
If you’re from Bahrain, Cambodia, China, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kuwait, the Maldives, Mexico, Serbia, Thailand or Macau SAR you will also now (from 6 July 2018) benefit from having different documentary requirements when making an application. This is because these countries have been added to the Immigration Rules Appendix H.
You will also be able to apply under differentiation arrangements for low-risk applicants.
However, from 6 July 2018, nationals of Oman who make Tier 4 applications must submit all documentation.
You don't need to send evidence of your qualifications and your finances, but you still need this evidence as UKVI may ask to see it.
They will refuse your application if you can't provide this evidence in a certain time period.
- Submiting proof of visa application to Sussex
You must show us a photocopy of your current visa and the cover sheet from your online visa application as proof that you have applied.
We cannot register you for a new course without this.
Email email@example.com if you think you have applied after your visa expiry date.
- Credibility interviews
You may be asked to attend a credibility interview by UKVI.
During the interview a UKVI staff member will assess if you meet the English language requirements and if you are a ‘genuine student.’
If you don't attend your interview, your application is likely to be refused.
If you are called for interview your application is likely to be delayed beyond the normal eight-week processing time.
- Biometric residence permit
Your visa will be issued as a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
You must bring your BRP to the Student Systems & Records Office (SSRO) Office if you are an undergraduate or Masters student, or the Research Student Administration Office (RSAO) Office if you are a PhD student.
Check all the details on your BRP are correct, including:
- your name, nationality and date of birth
- your visa expiry date
- university sponsor number - this should be P2W0CWXJ9
- your working conditions
- police registration condition if applicable.
- Switching institutions
Tier 4 visas are only valid for use on the course of study at the university they were issued for.
If you have a Tier 4 visa that was issued for study at another university, you must apply to extend your visa before you can enrol at Sussex.
Your partner and children may be able to apply to extend their stay with you as dependants
If your course is less than six months long, your family members cannot apply to be or remain your dependants.