Tier 4: eligibility and requirements

Last modified: 14 December 2017

Tier 4 (General) visas can only be issued for certain courses.  If your course is eligible course then your institution will give you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) with which you can apply for a Tier 4 visa.

Tier 4 (General) is also the visa for working as a student union sabbatical officer, as a postgraduate doctor or dentist in training, or as a PhD graduate under the Doctorate Extension Scheme

This information is based on the Immigration Rules and on the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance. We update our information 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

Eligible courses

Last modified: 14 December 2017

You can study a full-time recognised UK degree or degree-level course which leads to an approved qualification. The qualification must be at RQF level 6 or SCQF level 9 or above. You can browse the list of colleges and universities which award recognised UK degrees.

You can also study these other courses or periods of study. Choose a panel for more details about the requirements..

Where there is a minimum level, the levels of courses are defined on these external websites:

For information about how different qualifications compare across the UK and Ireland, see the guide Qualifications can cross boundaries [PDF]

Courses with a work placement 

Courses can include work placements, depending upon the level of your course and the sponsor rating of your Tier 4 sponsor. See the section about the number of hours you can work for more information.

Supplementary studies

While you are studying the course for which your Tier 4 (General) was issued you can take extra courses at any level, with any course provider. This includes short courses during vacations and in the period between the end of your course and the end of your visa. The provider of the extra course is not required to have a Tier 4 sponsor licence. There is no need for either the provider or you to notify the Home Office about the supplementary study. While there are no immigration restrictions on supplementary study, you should also check that the Academic Regulations at your sponsor institution allow you to take an extra course.

Part-time postgraduate courses

Study abroad

Below degree-level

Pre-sessional courses

English language courses

Re-sits and repeats

Postgraduate doctors and dentists in training


Time limits

Last modified: 30 March 2017

There are time limits ('caps') on how long you can study with a Tier 4 visa. Before they issue your CAS, a Tier 4 sponsor will check that your proposed studies will not take you over the cap. When assessing your application, the Home Office will also check that you will not exceed the cap, unless there are "compelling and compassionate circumstances", such as injury or disability. 

Both your Tier 4 sponsor and the Home Office use the same system to calculate the cap in years and months. Individual days or weeks are rounded up or down to the nearest month. For example, three months and ten days is rounded down to three months while three months and three weeks is rounded up to four months.

The Immigration Rules make it clear that the whole duration of your leave (your visa) is counted, including the extra periods of time added to your visa before and after your course. There are no deductions: vacations, time spent outside the UK, any time spent not studying, and any time spent on a different level course are all included. 

The Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance confirms that if your visa is curtailed only the period before the curtailment date is counted.

If you are a Syrian national who is normally resident in Syria and currently living in the UK these time limits will not apply to you, according to the concession for Syrian nationals.  If you need to rely on this concession we suggest that you speak to an immigration adviser before you apply and that you include a letter with your application explaining your situation and asking for the concession to be applied.


Below degree level: 2-year cap

Degree level: 5-year cap


Last modified: 17 July 2017

There are some requirements that you must meet in order to apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa.  


Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

Your money

Criminal convictions

General grounds for refusing


Last modified: 17 July 2017

Your Tier 4 application must normally include your valid passport and all the documents listed in the application forms and guidance. Unlike many other countries the UK doesn't require that a passport is valid for any particular period of time after arrival in the UK; but it must be valid when you make your application and when you arrive in the UK.  It must also contain at least one full page that is blank on both sides.

If your passport will expire shortly after you arrive in the UK then it is advisable to renew it before you apply for your Tier 4 visa, if there is time to do so.  If your passport will expire at any other point during your time in the UK then you should check if you will be able to replace it in the UK as this is not possible for all nationalities. 

We advise that you copy all of your documents and print out your application form before you send your documents.  You should keep these copies for your records in case there are any problems with your application.

See our July 2017 series of blog posts about common myths and misunderstandings about evidence of your money for a Tier 4 application.  

Applicants in Bangladesh

You will need to provide a copy of every document you submit with your application, including your passport.  For more information, see the UK Home Office website.

Syrian applicants

If you are a Syrian national who normally lives in Syria and you are applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa in the UK before 28 February 2018, and you are not able to obtain the required documents due to the civil unrest in Syria then you should explain this in your application.  See the concession for Syrians for more information. If you need to rely on this concession we suggest that you speak to an immigration adviser before you apply and that you include a letter with your application explaining your situation and asking for the concession to be applied.


Low-risk applicants

Your qualifications

English language assessment

Your money

Consent of current or previous official financial sponsor

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Parents' consent if you are under 18 years old



Police Registration Certificate