Sections

Tier 4 (General) student visa

If you wish to apply for a visa in this category then our team at Hunter Stone Law will be able to guide and assist you throughout every step of the process. In order to qualify for this visa you would have to meet the requirement of the relevant section of the Immigration Rules. However we have attempted to simplify the requirements below.

You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:

  • have been offered a place on a course
  • can speak, read, write and understand English
  • have enough money to support yourself and and pay for your course - this will vary depending on your circumstances
  • are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements

You can arrive in the UK before your course starts:

  • up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less
  • up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months

How long you can stay depends on the kind of course you’re doing and what study you’ve already completed.

If you have family members/dependants then you may be able to bring them in.

Eligibility

You must have:

  • an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a qualified education provider
  • enough money to support yourself and pay for your course - this will vary depending on your circumstances

Your course

You can do a course that’s one of the following:

  • full-time leading to a qualification that’s at least level 6 on the revised National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
  • an overseas course of degree level study that’s equal to a UK higher education course and is being run by an overseas higher education institution
  • a full-time course with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study leading to a qualification below degree level but at least NQF level 3
  • a recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist

Postgraduate doctors and dentists

You can apply for this visa if you’re sponsored to do a recognised foundation programme and you’ve:

  • finished a recognised UK degree in medicine or dentistry
  • received that degree from a registered Tier 4 sponsor
  • spent your final year and at least 1 other year of studies leading to that degree in the UK

Confirmation of acceptance of studies

Your education provider will send you a reference number called a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) once they’ve offered you a place on a course. You’ll need to enter this on your visa application.  You must apply for your visa no more than 6 months after you receive the CAS.

Further study in the UK

You can only get a CAS for a new course if you’ve studied in the UK before and you’re:

  • studying for a new qualification at a higher academic level
  • studying for a new qualification that’s at the same level of study but relates to and adds to your previous qualification
  • re-sitting exams or repeating modules
  • applying for the first time to a new institution to complete a course you started somewhere else

Knowledge of English Language

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.  You can prove this by passing an approved English language test.

The level of English you need (in reading, writing, speaking and listening) depends on the course you’re studying:

  • CEFR level B2 for courses at NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9 or above
  • CEFR level B1 for courses at NQF 3-5/QCF 3-5/SCQF 6-8

You can also meet this requirement if you can show you:

  • have an academic qualification that was taught in a majority English speaking country and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelors degree
  • have successfully completed a course as a Tier 4 (Child) student that was at least 6 months long, and that finished less than 2 years before you got your confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
  • are considered by your sponsor to be a ‘gifted student’

English language exceptions

You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of an English speaking country (see the Home Office website for the full list of countries). You also may not have to prove your knowledge of English in other circumstances if you fall within certain categories.

Documents you must provide with your application

When you apply for the visa you must provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • 2 passport sized-colour photographs with your name written on the reverse side
  • proof that you can support yourself and pay for your course - this will vary depending on your circumstances
  • proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if you’re under 18
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

Applying for a Tier 4 (General) student visa

If you’re applying outside the UK the application is completed online and you’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.

If you’re applying in the UK then you can only extend your existing visa or switch to this visa if you’re already in the UK.

Extend your visa

When making an application for an extension you should include any dependants who are on your current visa on your application to extend - including children who have turned 18 during your stay. You must apply before your current visa expires.  If necessary you may be able to apply to extend your stay to continue your course.  However you will have to provide reasons and evidence as to why you need to.

You must:

  • meet the eligibility requirements of this visa
  • be in the UK

Switch to this visa from a different visa

You may be able to change (switch) from another visa to a Tier 4 (General) student visa.  You should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility to switch to a Tier 4 (General) student visa

You can apply to switch into this category if you’re in the UK under any of the following visas or schemes:

  • Tier 1 (Post-study work)
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer)
  • Tier 2 (Minister of religion)
  • Tier 4 (Child)
  • prospective student
  • student (under the rules in place before 31 March 2009)
  • student re-sitting an examination
  • student nurse
  • students writing up a thesis
  • student union sabbatical officer
  • work permit holder
  • postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme
  • International Graduates Scheme
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme

You should apply during the last 3 months of your current permission to stay and no later than 6 months after your confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) has been assigned.  You must already be in the UK to apply.

Family members/dependants

Your family members (dependants) might be able to apply to join or remain with you in the UK if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

A dependant is either:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner
  • your unmarried or same-sex partner
  • your child under 18 years old

You can apply to bring a dependant to the UK if you’re:

  • sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at NQF level 7 or above that lasts 1 year or more
  • a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts 6 months or longer
  • a Doctorate Extension Scheme student

Savings to prove that your dependants can be supported

You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.   Each dependant must have a certain amount of money available to them - this is in addition to the money you must have to support yourself.

The amount of money you need depends on:

  • the length of your course
  • where you’re studying in the UK
  • whether you’ve finished a UK course or are currently studying

You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 28 days before you or they apply.

If your dependants applying are outside the UK then your family members must apply online.  They’ll need to have their fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of their application.  If your dependants applying are in the UK then they must complete separate applications online

What you can and can’t do

You can:

  • study
  • work as a student union sabbatical officer
  • apply from inside or outside the UK
  • apply to extend your stay
  • work - depending on what level your course is and what kind of sponsor you have

You can’t:

  • get public funds
  • work as professional sportsperson, including a sports coach