Tier 4 Student Visa

How to Come to the UK to Study

The UK welcomes students from all over the world. If you want to study at school or university in the UK and are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), you need a Tier 4 Student Visa.

There are two types of Tier 4 Student Visas.

Tier 4 (General) Student

You must be at least 16 years old and:

  • have been offered an unconditional place on a course with an educational body that holds a Licence to sponsor Tier 4 Students
  • can read, speak and understand English to a sufficiently high level
  • have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course - the amount will vary depending on your circumstances

First degrees, Masters Degrees and Postgraduate study all qualify as courses for the Tier 4 General Student Visa.  

Once you have been offered a place, you will be issued with a 'Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies' (CAS) with a number.  You will use the CAS number to make your application for a Tier 4 General Student Visa.

If you apply from within the UK, you can only get a new CAS if you are:

  • 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

Or you can start a new course and get a new CAS if the 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 Institution (HEI)
  • intercalated to a medicine, dentistry or medical science course you started studying under a Tier 4 (General) student visa

You can bring your dependants - partner and children - with you while you study.

Tier 4 Child Student

Like the Tier 4 General Student Visa, you must be from outside the EEA, have a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies from an independent school that holds a Licence to sponsor Tier 4 Child Students. You must have enough funds to support yourself and pay for your course. The course must be taught in line with the National Curriculum in the UK.

Parents can come with you to the UK but they are only granted up to 12 months' leave at a time and they must not make their main home in the UK.

If you are under 16 years old, you can stay in the UK to study for a maximum of 6 years and 4 months. If you are over 16 years old, you can stay for 3 years and 4 months. Where necessary, you can extend your leave up to these maximum periods.

Parent of a Tier 4 Child 

If you wish to accompany your child while they study in the UK, you must apply separately as the Parent of a Tier 4 Child.

Working with us

At Immigration Legal Services, we have experience of many successful Tier 4 Applications. We know what the Home Office want to see, and we can advise on whether the educational institution where you wish to study will comply with Home Office rules. We are methodical in gathering evidence and putting together the best possible application so that you can move on to studying in the UK.

If there are hitches or problems with your educational progress in the UK that might affect your immigration status, or if your immigration status is preventing you from studying, come and see if we can help. We like to look for solutions that will work.

We offer a 20 minute free advice session to assess your situation. It's your choice then whether to use our services. If you instruct us, we will tell you what we need from you, draft the application form and legal representations and ensure the evidence for your application is complete and correct. We then submit the application on your behalf and ensure the evidence is safely delivered to the Home Office. Our friendly team are on the end of a phone or email if you need advice along the way.

We work on a fixed fee basis so there is a price for the job - there are no hourly charges.

How does the process of making a Tier 4 Student Visa application work?

You can only apply for your Tier 4 Study Visa three months before you wish to travel. You cannot apply earlier. The Home Office will give you a decision on your application within 3 weeks or less if you pay for the Priority Service.

You can arrive in the UK any time during the month before the start of your course if the course lasts over 6 months, or 1 week before if your course lasts less than 6 months.

A Tier 4 General Student Visa does not lead to permanent settlement in the UK but you can 'switch' into a different immigration category if your circumstances change, for instance if you marry a British Citizen or you get a highly skilled job here. A Tier 4 Child Student can switch to a Tier 4 General Student Visa.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a place at Exeter University for a three year degree course. If I apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa, can I work while I am in the UK?

Yes, you can work in most types of job while in the UK as a student. You cannot be self-employed, you must be employed and you cannot work more than 20 hours per week during term time. There are some restrictions on the type of work you cannot do.

I have been in the UK as a Tier 2 (General) Worker for two years but I am about to lose my job. Can I switch to a Tier 2 Student Visa?

Yes, if you here as a Tier 2 Worker, you can 'switch' to Tier 4 (General) while inside the UK.

Can I come to study at a state school in the UK?

No. The Tier 4 Child Visa only applies to independent, fee paying schools.

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How to Come to the UK to Study
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