Making a Tier 4 (General) application in UK

Last modified: 20 March 2017

This information is based on the changes to the Immigration Rules which come into force on 6 April 2017, and on the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance which was last updated after changes in November 2016. 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.

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: 20 March 2017

To apply for a new Tier 4 visa in the UK the start date of your new course of studies (as stated on your CAS) must be 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 is longer than 28 days then you must leave the UK and apply from your home country.

You can make a Tier 4 application in the UK if you currently have a Tier 4 (General) student visa which is 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 have currently have a Tier 4 (Child) student visa or a Tier 2 visa.  Otherwise 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.

Before 6 April 2017 you can also apply in the UK if you were most recently granted leave under Tier 1 (Post-Study Work), as a pre-Tier 2 work permit holder, or as a student under the old Immigration Rules that were in place before the Tier 4 student Rules were introduced in March 2009.

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).

Applying via your Tier 4 sponsor

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The application form

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After you apply

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Application checklist

Last modified: 20 March 2017

This checklist is only 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 premium postal application then you must 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 (if applicable), choose which type of application to make and pay the application fee online – at this point you have made your application.


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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Start and end dates

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

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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

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