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GOV.UK
1. Overview
You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK if youre 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 thats not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
you meet the other eligibility requirements
How long it will take
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the start of your course.
You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.
Check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in your country.
Fees
Who youre
applying for
Apply (outside the
UK)
Extend or switch by post in
the UK
Extend or switch in person in the UK
(premium service)
You 310 422 822
All dependants 310 each person 422 each person 822 each person
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 youre doing and what study youve already
completed.
What you can and cant 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 cant:
get public funds
Tier 4 (General) student visa, a guide from GOV.UK from GOV.UK
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work as professional sportsperson, including a sports coach
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
cant do.
2. 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
Read the guide and appendix for the full list of documents and how much money youll need.
Your course
You can do a course thats one of the following:
full-time leading to a qualification thats at least level 6 on the revised National Qualifications
Framework (NQF)
an overseas course of degree level study thats 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 youre sponsored to do a recognised foundation programme and
youve:
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 theyve offered you a place on a course. Youll 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 youve studied in the UK before and youre:
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studying for a new qualification at a higher academic level
studying for a new qualification thats 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
3. Knowledge of English
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
youre 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
Check the full visa guidance for detailed information.
Exceptions
You dont need to prove your knowledge of English if you can show youre a national of one of the
following countries:
Antigua and Barbuda
Australia
the Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Canada
Dominica
Grenada
Guyana
Jamaica
New Zealand
St Kitts and Nevis
St Lucia
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
USA
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4. Documents you must provide
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 youre under 18
your tuberculosis test results if youre from a country where you have to take the test
Youll need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.
You may also need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.
Read the guidance and appendix for the full list of documents and how much money youll
need according to your situation.
5. Apply
You should read the full guidance before you apply.
Apply outside the UK
You must apply online for a Tier 4 (General) student visa.
Youll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as biometric information) taken at a
visa application centre as part of your application.
You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country youre in -
check with your visa application centre.
Cuba and North Korea
You cant apply online if youre applying from one of these countries.
Download the form and appendix.
Read the instructions for:
Cuba
North Korea
Apply in the UK
You can only extend your existing visa or switch to this visa if youre already in the UK.
6. Extend your visa
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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 should apply before your current visa expires.
You may be able to apply to extend your stay to continue your course.
You must:
meet the eligibility requirements of this visa
be in the UK
You should read the full Tier 4 guidance before you apply.
Fees
You pay:
422 if you apply online or by post
822 if you apply in person using the premium service
How to extend your stay
You can:
apply online
apply by post
use the premium service at a premium service centre
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.
How long it takes
A decision will be made:
within 8 weeks for online applications
usually on the same day if you use the premium service
Youll 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 (eg if you have a criminal conviction)
Once youve applied you can stay in the UK until youve been given a decision, as long as
you applied before your last visa expired.
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7. Switch to this 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
You can apply to switch into this category if youre 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
How to apply
Read the full Tier 4 guidance before you apply.
You can:
apply online
apply by post
use the premium service at a premium service centre
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.
How long it takes
A decision will be made:
within 8 weeks for online applications
usually on the same day if you use the premium service
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Youll 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 (eg if you have a criminal conviction)
Once youve applied you can stay in the UK until youve been given a decision, as long as
you applied before your last visa expired.
8. Family members
Your family members (dependants) might be able to apply to join or remain with you in the UK if
theyre 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 youre:
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
You must show that your dependants can be supported while theyre 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 youre studying in the UK
whether youve finished a UK course or are currently studying
You must have proof you have the money, and that its been in your bank account or your
dependants bank account for at least 28 days before you or they apply.
Read the detailed guidance for dependants for how much money youll need and the full list
of documents you need to provide.
Dependants applying outside the UK
Your family members must apply online.
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Theyll need to have their fingerprints and photograph (known as biometric information) taken at a
visa application centre as part of their application.
They may be able to get their visa faster or other services depending on what country theyre in -
check with the visa application centre.
Cuba and North Korea
Your family members cant apply online if theyre applying from one of these countries.
Print off and fill in the application form.
Read the instructions for:
Cuba
North Korea
Dependants applying in the UK
Your dependants should apply online.
Children born while youre in the UK
If you have children while youre in the UK, you can apply for permission for them to stay.
You must do this if you want to travel in and out of the UK with your child.
Complete the application form and send a full UK birth certificate showing the names of both of
your childs parents.
Last updated: 2 June 2014