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.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have now fully implemented the new process for in country visa extensions which involves taking biometrics at a UKVI service point or core centre.

Due to a limited number of appointments being available during the summer/autumn period, we recommend you submit your visa application as soon as you are ready. The processing time for standard applications is up to 8 weeks from the date of your appointment. You will not be able to leave the UK/Common Travel Area while your application is being processed. Please do not make any travel plans until you have received your new visa.

Please read our Guide to completing the Tier 4 online application from within the UK and take a look at the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website for further details.

It is important to check that you are eligible to apply in the UK. For more details on this, please read the following information and the applying if you have Tier 4 (General) leave section below.

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.

Download our Guide to completing the Tier 4 online application from within the UK [PDF 2.3MB]

Points-based assessment

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 (£1,015 per month up to a maximum of nine months, £9,135).

  • Applying if you have Tier 4 (General) leave

    In addition to the above, if you have Tier 4 (General) leave and want to apply for a Tier 4 visa for a new course of study, you can only apply for a Tier 4 visa in the UK if:

    • your current visa is sponsored by one of the following:

      1. a UK-recognised body, or a body in receipt of public funding as a Higher Education Institution (i.e. the University of Sussex)
      2. an overseas higher education institution and you have been doing a short-term study abroad programme in the UK
      3. an Embedded College offering Pathway Courses, such as the International Study Centre (ISC) (this does not include pre-sessional courses)
      4. an independent school
    • the start date of your new course of studies (as stated on your CAS) is no more than 28 days after your current visa ends
    • you 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 a continuing student or studying a Masters and you will not be formally awarded the degree until after you start your new course at Sussex), email immigration@sussex.ac.uk 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 send you your CAS number when you accept an unconditional offer from us.

    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 are a self-funded international student starting a Masters course in September 2019, your CAS will only be issued after you have paid a tuition fee deposit - find out more.

    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.

    Overstaying

    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 immigration@sussex.ac.uk if you don't have a current visa and you are an overstayer.

  • Apply online for your visa

    Your application date is when you submit the application online. You must apply on or before your current visa expiry date.

    You must apply online for your visa.

    You’ll also have to pay a healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

    Download our Guide to completing the Tier 4 online application from within the UK [PDF 2.1MB]

    You can apply in three ways:

    Standard service (£475)

    You should receive a decision (by email) within 8 weeks from the date you attend your document and biometric appointment. Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) should follow within 10 days.

    Priority service (£952)

    You should receive a decision (by email) within 5 working days of you attending your document and biometric appointment. Note that availability for priority service appointments is not visible until after you have paid for the service, so please be aware that you may have to wait or be prepared to travel further than your nearest centre. Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) should follow within 10 days.

    Super priority service (£1,085)

    You should receive a decision (by email) the next working day after attending your document and biometric appointment. Note that availability for super priority service appointments is not visible until after you have paid for the service, so please be aware that you may have to wait or be prepared to travel further than your nearest centre. Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) should follow within 10 days.

    Important: The previous system of submitting documents and biometric information via the Post Office have been replaced with a new system. From March 2019, in all instances, when you submit your visa application, you’ll be asked to make an appointment at a service point or centre in order to provide your supporting documents and biometric information (note that the previous system of doing this at a post office no longer exists). Carefully follow the instructions provided to you about how to book an appointment and what to do next (you should also use our guide to help you). You will be asked to choose from an appointment at one of six “core service centres” (located in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Croydon, Glasgow and Manchester) or, for an additional fee, an “enhanced service point” (these are located around the UK, including one at Brighton Library). Note that appointment availability can vary.

    Please also note that as this is a new system, some details have still not been confirmed, so we will be updating our web advice as more information becomes available, so please check these pages regularly.

    Deadlines for submitting documents and attending appointments will be provided on submission of the online application and must be complied with to ensure that your application is valid. Your application will be invalid if you do not attend an appointment within the required timeframe and you will become an overstayer if your current visa has expired.

  • Visa application documents

    You need:

    • a current passport or other valid travel documents
    • 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 your appointment
    • 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. 

    If a document is not in English, it must come with a fully certified translation. See paragraph 15 for more guidance (Home Office policy guidance on Tier 4 PDF).

    Make sure you keep 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.

    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 209-213 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 177-233 (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 immigration@sussex.ac.uk if you have any questions.

  • Different document requirements for some nationals

    You don't need to submit education and financial documents if you are:

    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.

    You don't need to send evidence of your qualifications and your finances, but you still need need to meet the Tier 4 visa requirements before you apply and to ensure that you can provide this evidence as UKVI may ask to see it.

    They will refuse your application if you can't provide satisfactory evidence in a certain time period.

  • Submitting 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 in time (on or before your visa expiry date).

    We cannot register you for a new course without this.

    Email immigration@sussex.ac.uk 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.

    Find out how to prepare for your credibility interview.

  • 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.

    If any details or conditions on your BRP are incorrect, you must act quickly as you only have a very short time to get these corrected. Please see our guidance here or email us on immigration@sussex.ac.uk for details on how to correct these errors.

  • 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.

  • Dependants

    Your partner and children may be able to apply to extend their stay with you as dependants.

    If you are considering bringing Tier 4 dependants with you, please look at this very helpful link which details who is allowed to come to the UK as a Tier 4 dependant, what they can do whilst here, how much maintenance money they will need to show and the rules around children applying to come to the UK as Tier 4 dependants.

    If your course is less than six months long, your family members cannot apply to be or remain your dependants.