Tier 4 Visa: 10 Steps to apply for a student visa

If you have ever thought of studying in the United Kingdom, then you must apply for a student visa. Getting your student visa (Tier 4) can be overwhelming, especially if you do not know the UK visa requirements and important application dates.

You can only apply for this visa if you are a full-time university student pursuing a UK degree – not including short-term or language courses.

If you have been given an unconditional offer to study a course at the university, or you have already started a course and need to apply for a Tier 4 student visa from outside of the UK, read on. You will find a detailed and step-by-step guide on how to apply for your student visa from overseas.

Tier 4 Visa: 10 Steps to apply for a student visa

The following are the steps involved in getting your tier 4 student visa:

Step 1: Request your confirmation of acceptance of the study (CAS).

Step 2: Make your Tier 4 student visa application in due time.

Step 3: Go to a UK visa application centre and take your photograph and fingerprints or interview.

Step 4: Complete the online application form and pay the fee.

Step 5: Pay your tuition fee.

Step 6: Gather supporting evidence and print the application.

Step 7: Select a location to collect your BRP.

Step 8: Submit your documents and biometrics.

Step 9: Receive your entry vignette.

Step 10: Collect your BRP within the UK.

Let’s explain these steps one after the other.

Step 1: Request your confirmation of acceptance of study (CAS)

CAS letter is a prerequisite for getting a UK student visa. It acts as proof that you have received an unconditional offer from the university. Without it, you will not be granted a student visa.

The CAS number is a unique reference number that is given to a student by the university he/she is accepting admission into. The university can also be referred to as your immigration sponsor. It will be sent to you by the university through the email address used for the application.

If the number used by the university happens to be different from the information you have provided in your application, your visa application will be rejected.

Getting the CAS letter is a lengthy process. Depending on the University you are enrolling in, you might have to send a request or apply for the CAS letter on your own. Hence, you need to check the website of the university where you are enrolling to understand its CAS process.

The process of sending the CAS number also depends on the university you’re enrolling in. For example, when you need to request a CAS number, some universities may ask you to send some documents as well as academic proofs, financial documents, Tuberculosis (TB) certificate, an ATAS certificate to get the CAS statement.

Usually, it takes ten days to send the CAS number after you confirm the details in the statement. If you don’t receive your CAS number within 20 days, send an email to the admission committee and inform them about the delay. 

Step 2: Make your Tier 4 student visa application in due time.

If the university you plan on studying has a Tier 4 sponsor licence, then you will have to qualify for this visa. You should apply for this visa three months before the starting date of your course and six months after receiving your CAS. You must be in your home country when you apply for this visa.

To qualify for the Tier 4 student visa, you must have a full 40-out-of-40 score on the UK visa point-based system.

The first 30 points are from your CAS document. The information on your CAS and the other reference documents make up these points. The remaining 10 points come from the financial statement, which is proof that you can finance yourself fully during your study program.

If you are applying for a Master’s degree or a PhD program, you will also need to apply for another document known as the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS). It would help if you got this sorted out a month before applying for your visa. 

Step 3: Go to a UK visa application centre and take your photograph and fingerprints or possibly interview.

You need to provide your biometric data (fingerprints and photograph) as part of your Tier 4 visa application process. This is sometimes referred to as ‘biometric enrolment’ by UKVI.

Your fingerprints and photograph will be stored digitally on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). The BRP is a card that contains your full visa duration.

Recently, a compulsory interview has been introduced by the UKBA for those who have applied for a tier 4 visa to study in the UK. The interviews are conducted when you attend a visa application centre to give your biometric information.

These interviews were put in place in order to detect where false representations have been made. It also detects where fake documentation or information have been submitted.

Suppose you’re applying for a student visa from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nigeria, or the Philippines. In that case, you should prepare to answer questions about your immigration and education history, study and post-study plans, as well as your financial circumstances.

Your answers will be typed up and used to determine if you are a genuine student when the decision is made on your Tier 4 student visa application.

You should check your email, including the spam folder regularly because your application might be refused if you are unable to attend a scheduled interview without providing reasonable explanations.

The interviews are carried out in the English language and possibly via video links.

Step 4: Complete the online application form and pay the fee

Your application form will be completed online. You must have your CAS number before applying for a Tier 4 visa. You must also meet the application requirements to apply for a Tier 4 visa successfully. 

The requirements are as follows:

  • You must meet the English Language requirements.  
  • You must meet the Financial Evidence requirements.
  • You must meet the ATAS requirement if it applies to your course. 
  • It would be best if you were not subject to refusal under general grounds (for example, criminal records, etc.).

There may be technical issues when trying to complete the online form. If you experience any technical difficulties while applying, try to use a different browser.

If you are not a beneficiary of the UK government scholarship, then you should select ‘Tier 4 (General) Student visa’. The form must be completed in English, and the sections must be fully completed.

Ensure you save the document as you progress so that you can return to it at a later date (you will also get an email link). You have to set up a password and use it each time you access your application.

In case someone else completes the form on your behalf, such as an agent, you must ensure you know of the contents of the form before submitting it.

If you give any false information, there is a risk of being banned from earning a visa to the UK for up to 10 years. Use the information on your CAS Statement to answer the relevant questions.

In order to submit the online application, you have to pay the visa application fee, which is currently £348 (or the equivalent in your currency), and the Immigration Health Surcharge for the duration of your period of study, which is currently £300 per year, and the same for any dependents.

Step 5: Pay your tuition fee.

If you want to come to the UK with a Tier 4 (General) student visa, you will have to prove that you have enough money to cover your course and can support yourself during your studies (maintenance).

In case you plan on studying a course that is more than one year long, you need to show evidence that you can pay for your first year’s fee. 

It would be best if you showed that you have enough money to cater for:

  • The full tuition fee for the first year of your course. This amount will be on your CAS statement. 
  • Maintenance money set by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), which is part of the Home Office.

The university determines the tuition fee you’re enrolling in.

You will need the following amount for your maintenance if you’re studying in the UK for the first time. 

  • For courses lasting nine months or longer, £1,015 per month up to a maximum of 9 months, which is a total of £9,135
  • For courses of less than nine months, £1015 for each month of your course.
  • If you have paid part of your tuition fees already, it will be deducted from the total fees you’re supposed to pay.

Step 6: Gather supporting evidence and print the application

1. For students with dependants

If your spouse is applying as your dependant at the same time, you will need to submit your Marriage Certificate. If you have children applying as your dependant(s) at the same time, you will also need to submit their Birth Certificate(s).

 2. If you are 16 or 17 years old

You must provide a parents’ consent letter when making your visa application. The letter must confirm that they are either your legal parents or guardians, consent to your living arrangements in the UK as well as the arrangements made for your travel to the UK. There must also be confirmations that they agree to you travelling alone too, and living independently in the UK (if you will be living independently).

If you cannot provide this statement, the letter must be signed by both parents and legal guardians.

3. If any of your documents are not in the English language 

It would help if you made provisions for an English translation with your visa application.

Although some embassies offer a translation service for official documents in their language and qualified individuals are specialising in translation services, you must ensure that those translations meet all the Home Office translation requirements.

Step 7: Select a location to collect your BRP

Since 2015, if you’re applying for a Tier 4 visa from overseas, which will be valid for longer than six months, you will be given a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), which must be collected within ten days of your arrival in the UK.

Where you collect your BRP from depends on the information you included on your visa application form. You can either collect it from the University or a designated Post Office, but for your ease, it is advised that you have your BRP sent to the university.

Step 8: Submit your documents and biometrics.

After submitting your online application, you will schedule an appointment with a visa application centre to provide the required evidence.

Come at the scheduled time with your passport and all other supporting documents. These will be assessed with your visa application and returned with your visa decision.

Step 9: Receive your entry vignette

Your passport will be sent back to you together with a vignette (sticker) added to a blank page when your visa application has been processed.

Your passport will also come with a decision letter that confirms whether your application has been successful, the duration of your visa, and your BRP collection location.

With the vignette, you can enter the UK within a fixed period, usually for 30 days. Entry vignettes issued for courses beginning in 2020 will be valid for 90 days instead, because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on international travel.

For a visa of six months or less, the vignette will be valid as a visa document for your visa duration. If your Tier 4 visa is longer than this, you will need a BRP card.

Step 10: Collect your BRP within the UK

Once you get to the UK, you must collect your biometric residence permit (BRP) within ten days of arrival, except your visa is six months or less. Come with your passport with the entry vignette and your visa decision letter to collect it.

Your visa decision letter will confirm where you can collect your BRP card.

Key Takeaway

Applying for your tier 4 student visa can be a handful, and you need to pay attention to every detail in order to have a successful application.

Furthermore, that is why our immigration solicitors are here to give you adequate guidance on how to go about your application. Contact us an immigration solicitor today, and let them help take the visa application burden off your shoulders.


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