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General student visa (Tier 4)

Overview

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

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the UK until 30 June 2021. You and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK.

When to apply

The earliest you can apply for a visa is 3 months before you start your course.

You’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. 



Find out about paying for a faster decision.

Fees

It costs £348 to apply for this visa from outside the UK.

You must pay £348 per person for any dependants.

Healthcare surcharge

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

How long you can stay

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.

What you can and cannot do

You can:

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

You cannot:

  • get public funds
  • work in certain jobs, for example professional sportsperson or sports coach
  • study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school)

You may be able to bring in family members (dependants).

Read the full guidance to find out how long you might be able to stay and what you can and cannot do.

Eligibility

You must have:

  • an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor
  • enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances

Read the guide for the full list of documents and how much money you’ll need.

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 Ofqual register
  • part-time leading to a qualification that’s at least level 7 on the Ofqual register
  • 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
  • full-time, with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study, leading to a qualification which is at least level 3 on the Ofqual register
  • a recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • an English language course at level B2 or above on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

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 for 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.

If you’ve studied in the UK before

You can only get a CAS in certain situations if you’re applying from within the UK.

If you’re continuing your studies

You can get a CAS if you’re:

  • resitting exams or repeating modules
  • applying for the first time to a new institution to complete a course you started at an institution that lost its Tier 4 sponsorship
  • applying to extend your stay to complete your studies because you’ve done (or want to do) a work placement or study abroad programme
  • completing a PhD or other doctorate that you started studying under your last Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • applying after working as a student union sabbatical officer to complete a qualification you started studying under your last Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • continuing your medical, dentistry or medical science degree after completing an intercalated course

If you’re starting a new course

You can get a CAS if your course is one of the following:

  • at a higher academic level than your previous course
  • at the same level and related to your previous course or career aspirations – it must be degree level or above at a higher education provider listed on the Tier 4 register of sponsors as ‘Tier 4 sponsor – track record’
  • intercalated to a medicine, dentistry or medical science course you started studying under a Tier 4 (General) student visa

If you’re applying to work in the UK

You can get a CAS if you’re applying to either:

    • work as a student union sabbatical officer
    • stay in the UK to look for work after you’ve finished your PhD or doctorate – the ‘Doctorate Extension Scheme’ (DES)
Documents you must provide

When you apply for the visa you must provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • 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
  • proof of your relationship with your parent or guardian if you’re under 18
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

You need a blank page in your passport for your visa.

You may also need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Read the guidance for the full list of documents and how much money you’ll need according to your situation.

Apply

Read the full Tier 4 guidance before you apply.

Apply outside the UK

You must apply online for a Tier 4 (Child) visa.

You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of your application.

You’ll have to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when you said you’d arrive in the UK (even if you actually arrive at a later date).

Find out how to get your visa decision faster – this depends on what country you’re in. Check if your visa application centre offers faster decisions and other services.

North Korea

You cannot apply online if you’re living in North Korea.

To apply from North Korea you must:

Apply in the UK

Check if you can apply from inside the UK to:

  • extend your existing Tier 4 (Child) student visa
  • switch to this visa from another visa
Extend your visa

You may be able to stay longer to continue your course or study a new one.

You must:

  • meet the eligibility requirements of this visa
  • be in the UK
  • have a sponsor

Who can sponsor you

You can only apply to extend your leave to study if your current sponsor is:

  • a higher education provider listed as ‘Tier 4 sponsor – track record’ on the Tier 4 register of sponsors
  • an overseas provider
  • an embedded college offering pathway courses
  • an independent school

You must include your dependants in your application if they’re on your current visa, including children who have turned 18 during your stay.

Read the full Tier 4 guidance before you apply.

When to apply

You must apply:

You can stay in the UK until you get your decision.

Fees

For each person, you’ll need to pay:

A decision will usually be made within 8 weeks if you use the standard service.

Get a faster decision on your application

If you want to get a decision more quickly, you can pay an extra £500 for the priority service to get a decision within 5 working days.

You can pay an extra £800 for the super priority service to get a decision:

  • by the end of the next working day after providing your biometric information if your appointment is on a weekday
  • 2 working days after providing your biometric information if your appointment is at the weekend

Once you’ve got your decision letter, your biometric residence permit will take up to 10 working days to arrive.

Working days are Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays.

Apply

You must apply online.

Providing biometric information and supporting documents

When you apply, you’ll be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo).

You’ll also need to submit your supporting documents. You can:

  • upload them into the online service
  • have them scanned at your UKVCAS appointment

You must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until you get a decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do.

What happens next

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example because:

  • your supporting documents need to be verified
  • you need to attend an interview
  • of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)
Switch to this visa

You may be able to change (switch) to a Tier 4 (General) student visa if you’re in the UK under any of the following visas or schemes:

  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer)
  • Tier 2 (Minister of religion)
  • Tier 4 (Child)

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.

When to apply

You must apply:

You can stay in the UK until you get your decision.

Fees

For each person, you’ll need to pay:

A decision will usually be made within 8 weeks if you use the standard service.

Get a faster decision on your application

If you want to get a decision more quickly, you can pay an extra £500 for the priority service to get a decision within 5 working days.

You can pay an extra £800 for the super priority service to get a decision:

  • by the end of the next working day after providing your biometric information if your appointment is on a weekday
  • 2 working days after providing your biometric information if your appointment is at the weekend

Once you’ve got your decision letter, your biometric residence permit will take up to 10 working days to arrive.

Working days are Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays.

Apply

You must apply online.

Providing biometric information and supporting documents

When you apply, you’ll be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo).

You’ll also need to submit your supporting documents. You can:

  • upload them into the online service
  • have them scanned at your UKVCAS appointment

You must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until you get a decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do.

What happens next

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example because:

    • your supporting documents need to be verified
    • you need to attend an interview
    • of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)

Data Source: https://www.gov.uk/child-study-visa

Countries in the EU and EEA

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 countries. It operates an internal (or single) market which allows free movement of goods, capital, services and people between member states.

EU countries

The EU countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

The European Economic Area (EEA)

The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It allows them to be part of the EU’s single market.

Switzerland is not an EU or EEA member but is part of the single market. This means Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.

Citizens’ rights after the UK leaves the EU

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens currently living in the UK until 30 June 2021.

You can read about the rights and status of UK nationals living in the EU after the UK leaves the EU.