Making a Tier 4 (General) application in UK

Last modified: 05 January 2017

This information is based on the changes to the Immigration Rules which came into force on 24 November 2016 and the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance version 11/2016, to be used for all Tier 4 applications on or after 24 November 2016. We update it as soon as possible after any changes. However, if you have printed this webpage, we advise that you check on our website that it is still the most recent version.

You may need to make a Tier 4 application while you are in the UK.  For example, you may need to apply because:

  • you need more time to undertake re-sits or to repeat part of your course
  • you are switching to a new Tier 4 sponsor
  • you are extending your stay in the UK to work as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer or as a Doctor or Dentist in training, or for the Doctorate Extension Scheme,  all of which are done with Tier 4 leave

This section guides you through the eligibility and application process.  It is important that you check first that you are eligible to apply and that any time limits on study in the UK do not affect your application.

Can you apply in the UK?

Last modified: 23 November 2016

In order to apply for a new Tier 4 visa in the UK your new course of studies must start no more than 28 days after the end of your current leave, if the gap between the end of your current leave and the start of your new course (as stated on your CAS) is longer than 28 days then you must leave the UK and apply from your home country.

In addition to this the Immigration Rules only allow people who were last granted leave in certain immigration categories to make a Tier 4 application in the UK. If you currently have a Tier 4 (General) student visa then you must currently be sponsored by:

  • a UK recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as an HEI (higher education institution); or
  • an overseas higher education institution and you have been undertaking a short-term study abroad programme in the UK; or
  • an embedded college offering pathway courses (this does not include pre-sessional courses); or
  • an independent school

If you do not know if this applies to you then ask your Tier 4 sponsor.

You can also apply in the UK if you currently have leave in one of the following categories:

  • Tier 4 (Child) student
  • Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) migrant
  • Tier 2 migrant

You can also make a Tier 4 application in the UK if you were last granted leave as a student under the old Immigration Rules that were in place before the Tier 4 student Rules were introduced in March 2009.

If your last grant of leave was not one of the categories listed above then you must return to your home country and apply for a Tier 4 visa from there. There are currently two exceptions to this (see the boxes on the right). If you wish to apply under one of these exceptions, we advise that you speak to an immigration adviser before you apply and that you include a letter with your application explaining your situation.

Note: if you have previously been granted immigration permission to study in the UK, either under Tier 4 or under the student rules that were in place before Tier 4 was introduced on 31 March 2009, you will not be able to apply for your new visa in the UK unless your CAS confirms that you are making academic progress in your studies.  For information about this see the section called 'Academic progression' in the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance.


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Submitting your application

Last modified: 11 October 2016

You complete and submit the form online, then you submit your supporting documents to the Home Office by post (a "standard" or "priority" application) or in person (a "premium" application).

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Application checklist

Last modified: 06 January 2017

This flowchart is designed to act as a summary of the steps involved in making a Tier 4 (General) application in the UK. It is only an overview and does not contain detailed information about the Tier 4 requirements.  We have included links to external websites where relevant but it is important to also read the accompanying information on our website before you make your application.

  1. Choose institution and course
  2. Apply for a place and receive an unconditional offer
  3. Obtain a ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ (CAS) number from your institution

    Note: a CAS is only valid for six months, you must make your visa application within this time.

  4. Check that the gap between the end of your current leave and the course start date on your CAS is no more than 28 days (if it is you must go home and apply for a new visa before your course starts)
  5. Apply for ATAS clearance if applicable (some institutions may ask that you do this before they will issue a CAS)
  6. Check that you meet the Tier 4 requirements
  7. Make sure that you have all of the necessary supporting documents, including:
    • Valid passport
    • Biometric residence permit (BRP) if you have one
    • Photographs that meet the Home Office requirements
    • ATAS clearance certificate (if required)
    • Police registration certificate (if applicable)
    • Evidence of qualifications listed on your CAS*
    • If you have previously been granted immigration permission to study in the UK either under Tier 4 or under the student rules that were in place before Tier 4 was introduced on 31 March 2009, evidence that you meet the academic progress requirement, that is that you successfully completed the qualification that your previous leave was granted for (this will often be the same document as the qualification listed on your CAS)
    • Evidence that you meet the English language requirement, or are exempt from the requirement
    • If you will be under 18 on the date that you apply for your visa: letter from your parent/legal guardian confirming their relationship to you and that they consent to your study and living arrangements in the UK
    • Original paper receipts for any tuition fees and/or accommodation costs that you have already paid to your institution, if this information is not included on your CAS*
    • Evidence that you meet the financial requirements.*  Only the following documents are acceptable:
      1. bank or building society statements
      2. building society passbooks
      3. letter from your bank or regulated financial institution
      4. letter confirming a loan
      5. letter from an official financial sponsor

        Note: most Tier 4 refusals are caused by incorrect financial documents.  It is very important that to check that yours meet the requirements and that you have held the correct level of funds for the necessary period of time (in most cases this is 28 days)

    • If you are using funds held in your parent’s or legal guardian’s name(s): evidence of their relationship to you and a letter from them consenting to your studies and the use of their funds*
    • If you are being fully funded by a government or international scholarship agency (or you have been fully funded by such a sponsor within 12 months of this application): a letter from this sponsor confirming that they consent to this application
    • Translations of any documents that are not in English or Welsh

      *If you are a 'low-risk' applicant then you must confirm on your Tier 4 application form that you have these documents but you should not submit them with your application.

  8. Complete the Tier 4 application form online

    Note: you can start completing the application form as early as you like; your application will not be made until you pay the application fee

  9. If you wish to make a premium postal application then you must complete the Tier 4 priority service request form and obtain a ‘priority service reference number’.

    Note: once you have received this reference number you must complete the next step within 24 hours.

  10. Pay the immigration health surcharge (if applicable), choose which type of application to make from the options below and pay the application fee online – at this point you have made your application

Note: you should do this before your current leave expires and should check the following points first:

  • your CAS must be no more than six months old when you apply
  • you must not apply more than three months before the course start date on your CAS
  • all of the information on your CAS must be correct and up to date, for example the information about any tuition fees and/or accommodation fees you have paid to your institution


Standard postal

Priority postal


Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

Last modified: 10 December 2015
Leave to remain is issued as a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). A BRP is a plastic card (similar to a credit card), which contains your personal information, your biometric information (photograph and fingerprints) and your immigration status and conditions. There is nothing placed in your passport.

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Last modified: 22 February 2016

Note: this information only applies to Tier 4 applications made in the UK.

The options available to you in the event of your Tier 4 application being refused by the Home Office will depend on:

  • the date on which you made your application (this is the date you paid the fee and submitted the application online); and
  • whether you still have time left on your previous leave.


If you made your application before 20 October 2014 and it is refused by the Home Office it is likely that you will have a right of appeal against the decision to refuse your application to an independent immigration Tribunal.

If you made your application on or after 20 October 2014, you will have the right to apply for administrative review instead of a right of appeal. The Home Office will review its decision to see if it made a case working error. You will also have the right to apply for administrative review where the Home Office has granted you the incorrect length of immigration permission or placed incorrect conditions on your immigration permission.

If your application is refused the Tier 4 application fee will not be refunded.  However, if you paid the immigration health surcharge (IHS) as part of your application this will be refunded in full.


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