Making a Tier 4 (General) application in UK

Last modified: 07 August 2017

You may need to make a Tier 4 application while you are in the UK because:

  • you are progressing to a new course of study
  • you need more time because of re-sits or repeating part of your course
  • you need more time to complete your PhD
  • you wish to work under the Doctorate Extension Scheme, as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer or as a Doctor or Dentist in training

This section guides you through the eligibility and application process.  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 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 or group sessions about the application, one-to-one advice, and sending applications in batches 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 webpage, we advise that you check on our website that it is still the most recent version.

Can you apply in the UK?

Last modified: 11 August 2017

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 immigration permission. If the start date is later, you must leave the UK and apply from your home country.

Second, you must have either a Tier 2 visa sponsored by your employer or a Tier 4 visa sponsored by one of these types of Tier 4 sponsor:

  • 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, you must return to your home country and apply for a 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. 

There are currently only two exceptions to the requirement to hold current Tier 4 or Tier 2 status (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.

Before 6 April 2017 people with some other types of current visa could apply in the UK but the Immigration Rules no longer allow this. 

The final requirement for being able to apply in the UK is that 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, your CAS must confirm that you are making academic progress in your studies.  For information about this see the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance, paragraphs 56-78.


Some Syrians

You must be a Syrian national who is normally resident in Syria, but who is currently resident in the UK...
Read more

Some dependants of diplomats

The Home Office's modernised guidance for staff assessing Tier 4 applications states...

Read more

Submitting your application

Last modified: 20 September 2017

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 via your Tier 4 sponsor

Your institution may provide a service where they can check your application and send it to...

Read more

The application form

Your application date is the date you pay the fee and submit the application. You must apply before your...

Read more

After you apply

Someone who has started a Tier 4 application can decide to withdraw it or cancel it before they get a decision...

Read more

Application checklist

Last modified: 18 September 2017

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
  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 refusal 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 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: 20 September 2017
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 your immigration status and conditions. 

Receiving your BRP

Your permission to be in the UK is issued as a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)...

Read more

Start and end dates

Your leave to remain will start when the Home Office makes a decision on your Tier 4 application...

Read more


Last modified: 22 March 2017

You will have the right to apply for administrative review of the refusal. 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.

Administrative review

If you applied for leave to remain as a Tier 4 student or a Tier 4 dependant and your application is refused...

Read more