Tier 4 General Student visa

Who may apply for this visa?

This visa is aimed at a non-EEA national 16 or over and who wishes to study in the UK.

What are the requirements for a Tier 4 general student visa?

  • You are 16 or over;
  • You have been offered an unconditional place on course of study with the education institution holding a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence;
  • You are able to support yourself financially and pay for your course;
  • You are able to speak, read, write and understand English to a certain standard.
  • If 16 or 17 years old, written consent from your parent or legal guardian confirming that you can travel to and live independently in the UK.
  • Your offer of a course must be full-time leading to at least a level 6 qualification (equivalent to bachelor degree level); or
  • An overseas course of degree level study equivalent to a UK higher education course; or
  • Full-time course with at least 15 hours daytime study leading to a level 3 qualifications on the National Qualifications Framework (equivalent to AS/ A Level); or
  • Recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist (if you have been awarded a recognised degree in medicine or dentistry from a registered Tier 4 sponsor and spent your final year and at least 1 other year studying for your degree in the UK)

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies

Once offered a place to study a course, your education institution will provide you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number. You must apply for your Tier 4 General Student visa within 6 months of receiving your CAS reference number.

Maintenance Requirements

You must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover:

  • Any course fees for the first year of your course, or the entire course if it is less than one year long;
  • Your living costs (if you will be studying in inner London, you will need £1,020 for each month of your course, up to a maximum of nine months. If you will be studying elsewhere in the UK, you will need £820 for each month of your course, up to a maximum of nine months);

Leave to remain under Tier 4 category

If you have an ‘established presence’ in the UK, you will need to have enough money to pay the course fees for the first year of your course (or the entire course if it will be less than one year) plus money to cover two months’ living costs only.

You will have an ‘established presence’ if you currently have leave to remain as a Tier 4 General Student, a Tier 4 Child Student, a Student under the Immigration Rules in place before 31 March 2009 or a Postgraduate doctor or dentist.

Source of funds

Anyone can pay for the course fees to the Tier 4 sponsor however evidence funds for living costs must be held in either your name or parents/legal guardians name.

If you intend to rely on funds provided by a third party, the third-party must transfer the funds either to your account or legal guardians account and the funds have been held in the bank account at least 28 days before you apply for the Tier 4 General Student visa.

Time limits on studies

If you will study a course that will lead to a qualification below degree-level, then you cannot spend more than three years studying in the UK.

If you will study a course that will lead a qualification at degree-level, then you can study in the UK for a maximum of 5 years. However there are some exceptions to the 5 year gap:

  • If you have successfully completed a UK degree course which was at least four years long, and you are making a Tier 4 application to study a Master’s degree at a higher education institution, the limit is six years;
  • If you intend to study a PhD (or one of the postgraduate research qualifications listed in Annex 6 of the Home Office’s Tier 4 Policy Guidance) at a higher education institution, there is no limit while you are studying the PhD;
  • If already completed a PhD in the UK, any new Tier 4 application is subject to an 8-year limit (including courses below degree level, but not including Tier 4 leave granted under the Doctorate Extension Scheme);
  • Courses in architecture, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and science, or music at a conservatoire, are exempt from the limit;
  • If you have completed a UK degree, and your current Tier 4 application is to study certain legal qualifications, the legal qualification is exempt from the limit.  In England and Wales the relevant qualifications are a law conversion course, a Legal Practice Course and the Bar Professional Training Course.

Tier 4 Interviews

The Entry Clearance officer will interview Tier 4 General Student applicant before granting him/her a visa to come to the UK. The following may be asked:

  • Questions about your immigration history;
  • Details about your course, where you wish to study, reasons for studying in the UK;
  • Post study plans and personal and financial circumstances.

You must satisfy the Entry Clearance Officer that you are a genuine student and your English language ability is at the required standard.

How long is this visa granted for?

Application for a Tier 4 General Student visa may be made 3 months before the start of your course. Once you are granted the visa, if your course will last less than 6 months, you may arrive in the UK one week before the start of your course or up to month before the start of your course if the course will exceed 6 months.

As a holder of this visa, you can only study and work as much as your visa permits.

Tier 4 General Students may be joined or accompanied by a dependant spouse/ civil partner, unmarried partner or an under 18 child providing that that they are either:

  • Studying on a course that is at least a master’s degree level and lasts 1 year or more; or
  • Government sponsored student on a course that lasts 6 months or more; or
  • Doctorate Extension Scheme student

In addition to the funds available to the Tier 4 General Student visa holder, the additional dependants must also have available funds to support themselves. The amounts of funds which is required will depend on the length of the course, the location of the course in the UK and whether the course has finished or on-going.