Making a Student route application in the UK

Last modified: 14 October 2020

Since 5 October 2020, 'Tier 4 (General)' leave has become 'Student' permission and 'Tier 4 (Child)' leave has become 'Child student' permission. 'Student' includes Tier 4 (General) and 'Child student' includes Tier 4 (Child).

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

Most Student sponsors offer their students information and advice on making a Student route application. Depending on their resources this may include written guidance or web pages, workshops about the application and one-to-one advice.

This information is based on the Immigration Rules and on the Home Office's Student and Child student guidance. We update it as soon as possible after any changes. If you have printed this page, we advise that you check on our website that it is still the most recent version before you rely on it.

Can you apply in the UK?

Last modified: 14 October 2020

First, check that the start date of your new course of studies (as stated on your CAS) is no more than 28 days after the end of your current visa. If the start date is later, you must leave the UK and apply from your home country.

The next step depends on your current immigration status and when you make your application (submit the online form and pay the fee).

Applications on or after 9 am on Monday 5 October 2020 

You can apply in the UK if you are not in the UK on immigration bail, and if you currently have any type of immigration permission except:

  • visitor
  • short-term student
  • parent of a child student
  • seasonal worker
  • domestic worker in a private household
  • permission outside the Immigration Rules

It is extremely important that you do not apply in the UK if you hold one of the types of immigration permission listed above because the Home Office will treat your application as invalid. This means that they will not consider your application and you will have no right of appeal or administrative review against their decision. If you have been affected by Coronavirus, however, you should check whether one of the concessions might help you - see Coronavirus (Covid-19): info for international students.

Applications before 9 am on Monday 5 October 2020 

You must currently have Tier 4 (General) student leave for a course sponsored by or previously sponsored by one of these types of Tier 4 sponsor (see how your sponsor is described on the Register of Student sponsors):

  • a higher education provider with a track record of compliance; or
  • an overseas higher education institution and you have been doing 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 your Tier 4 sponsor does not meet one of these definitions you must return to your home country and apply for a new Tier 4 visa from there. If you are unsure, or if your Tier 4 visa has now expired, ask your Tier 4 sponsor for advice.

Alternatively, you must have Tier 2 or Tier 4 (Child) student leave.

Other requirements including academic progress

Students who have previously been granted Tier 4 (General) student leave or permission under the Student route, must also meet the academic progress requirement, or be exempt from it, in order to apply in the UK. For information about how the Home Office defines 'academic progress', see the Student guidance.

Your status before you receive a decision 

As long as you apply to extend your Student permission in the UK prior to the expiry of your current visa, you will be lawfully resident in the UK regardless of the length of time it takes for the Home Office to make a decision on your application.


Dependants of diplomats

Where, when, how to apply

Last modified: 14 October 2020

After you have checked whether you are able to make a Student route application in the UK, you need to prepare for the process.

How to apply

When to apply

Application fee

Immigration health surcharge


Interview, Medical Checks

Coronavirus (Covid-19): Sopra Steria update on UKVCAS appointments

Submitting your application

Last modified: 14 October 2020

After you have completed and submitted the form online, paid the associated fees (immigration health surcharge, biometric enrolment fee and visa fee) you must select your mode of application. Mode of applications include the standard service, priority service, super priority service and the VIP service.

Types of application

Applying with the help of your Student sponsor

Technical support

After you apply

Travel outside the UK before you receive a decision

Application checklist

Last modified: 14 October 2020

This checklist is a summary of the steps involved in making a Student route application in the UK. We have included links to more detailed information and to external websites.

  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. 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 there.
  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 Student route requirements
  7. Make sure that you have all of the necessary evidence.
  8. Complete the Student route application form online. 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. Pay the immigration health surcharge, choose which type of application to make, pay the biometric enrolment fee and pay the application fee online – at this point you have made your application.
  10. Book an appointment to attend either a UKVCAS service centre or an enhanced service centre in order to provide your biometrics.
  11. Scan and upload your documents in advance of your appointment or at your appointment (there will be a charge for this). Make sure that all your evidence shows that you met the requirements on the day on which you submitted your online application.
  12. Attend your appointment in order to provide your biometrics. If you have already uploaded your documents, you will need to bring your original passport to your appointment for identity purposes only. If you wish to scan all your documents at your appointment, bring all your original documents to the appointment. You will be able to take them away with you after your appointment.
  13. Attend a credibility interview if you are asked to do so.
  14. The Home Office will decide whether to grant or refuse your application. If your application has been refused you should contact an adviser at your institution as soon as possible.
  15. If your application has been successful your biometric residence permit (BRP) will be sent to you separately by post.
  16. Check that all of the details on your BRP are correct (including the conditions and length of leave), and show it to the relevant staff member at your institution so that they can update their records.
  17. Update your police registration (if applicable) within seven days of the receipt of your new BRP.

Biometric residence permit (BRP)

Last modified: 14 October 2020

Evidence of your permission to be in the UK is issued as a biometric residence permit (BRP), separate from your passport. A BRP is a plastic card similar to a credit card which contains your personal information, your biometric information (photograph and fingerprints) and states your immigration status and some of your conditions.

Receiving your BRP

Start and end dates


Last modified: 14 October 2020

If your Student route application is refused, you will usually have the right to apply for administrative review of the refusal, which should be made clear in the decision notice. The Home Office will review its decision to see if it made a case working error. You should also apply for administrative review if the Home Office has granted you the incorrect length of immigration permission or placed incorrect conditions on your immigration permission.

You must meet the deadline for applying for administrative review, so seek advice from your Student sponsor or a lawyer as quickly as possible after you receive a refusal. Details of how to apply for administrative review are in the Student and Child Student guidance.

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

You should tell your Student sponsor that your application has been refused so that you can receive help and advice about how this might affect your study and what your options might be.