Making a Tier 4 (General) application in the UK

Last modified: 23 October 2018

This section guides you through the eligibility and application process for making a Tier 4 (General) student 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.

Note that the application process is about to change, probably from 5 November 2018, but it is likely that the changes will not be introduced everywhere at the same time. The Home Office has published a summary of what will happen, but we do not yet have any detailed information. 

Most Tier 4 sponsors offer their students information and advice on making a Tier 4 application. Depending on their resources this may include written guidance or web pages, workshops about the application, one-to-one advice, and sending applications for you to the Home Office.

This information is based on the Immigration Rules and on the Home Office's Tier 4 policy 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: 05 July 2018

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.

Next, you must currently have Tier 4 (General) student leave for a full-time course sponsored by one of these types of Tier 4 sponsor (see how your sponsor is described on the Register of Tier 4 sponsors):

  • 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 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, or if your current Tier 4 visa was issued for a part-time postgraduate course, 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.

Students who have previously been granted Tier 4 (General) student leave 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 Tier 4 policy guidance.


Dependants of diplomats

Where, when, how to apply

Last modified: 23 October 2018

After you have checked whether you are able to make a Tier 4 (General) student application in the UK, you need to prepare for making the application.

The system described here will change in November 2018 and will mean that you can keep your documents while your application is being processed. See the government press release for an overview. We will update this information when more details are available.

How to apply

When to apply

Application fee

Immigration health surcharge


Interview, Medical Checks

Submitting your application

Last modified: 24 April 2018

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).

Applying with the help of your Tier 4 sponsor

The application form

After you apply

Temporary return of passport

Application checklist

Last modified: 08 March 2018

This checklist is a summary of the steps involved in making a Tier 4 (General) 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 Tier 4 requirements
  7. Make sure that you have all of the necessary evidence.
  8. Complete the Tier 4 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. If you wish to make a Priority postal application, complete the Tier 4 priority service request form and obtain a ‘priority service reference number’. After you have received this reference number you must complete the next step within 24 hours.
  10. Pay the immigration health surcharge, choose which type of application to make and pay the application fee online – at this point you have made your application. Print the application summary, and download and print the Biometric Enrolment Letter.
  11. Your deadline for submitting the application summary and all of your supporting documents to the Home Office will depend on whether you are using the Standard, Priority or Premium service - select The application form in Submitting your application.
  12. Give your Biometrics. For a Standard or Priority application you do this at a participating post office. For a Premium application, you do it at 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 and return your documents to you with a decision letter. 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.​​

Biometric residence permit (BRP)

Last modified: 08 March 2018

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: 08 March 2018

If your Tier 4 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 Tier 4 sponsor or a lawyer as quickly as possible after you receive a refusal. Details of how to apply for administrative review are in the Tier 4 policy guidance.

When an application is refused, the Tier 4 application 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 Tier 4 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.