Tier 4: eligibility and requirements

Last modified: 23 October 2018

Tier 4 (General) student visas can only be issued for certain courses.  If your course is eligible, your education provider (Tier 4 sponsor) will give you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) which you use to apply for a Tier 4 visa. The course details will be on the CAS.

Tier 4 (General) visas can also be granted for work 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: 18 June 2018

Tier 4 (General) students can study a range of courses, but those courses must meet certain requirements including minimum levels of qualifications. We have set out some of these requirements in the list below.

Course levels are defined, with examples, on these external websites:

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

You may be able to undertake work placements as part of your course, depending mainly on the level of your course.

If the course you want to study does not seem to fit within the Tier 4 requirements, ask the course provider for advice and you might want to consider whether you can qualify for leave under a different category which permits study, for example, Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) or UK ancestry.

Full-time degrees and degree-level courses

Part-time postgraduate courses

Study abroad

Courses below degree level

Pre-sessional courses

English language courses

Re-sits and repeats

Postgraduate doctors and dentists in training


Supplementary study

Time limits

Last modified: 09 March 2018

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. 

The concession for Syrian nationals provides an exception from these study limits. If you need to rely on this concession, you should speak to an immigration adviser before you apply and include a letter with your application explaining your situation and asking for the concession to be applied.

How the time limit is calculated

Your course is below degree level

Your course is degree level


Last modified: 23 October 2018

In addition to studying an acceptable course and not exceeding any relevant time limits on study with Tier 4 immigration permission, there are some other requirements you must meet in order to apply for leave as a Tier 4 (General) student.

Information about how you prove that you meet these requirements is set out in Evidence.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

Maintenance requirements

English language ability

Criminal convictions

General grounds for refusal


Last modified: 23 October 2018

You must meet all Tier 4 (General) student requirements and be able to provide evidence in the required format in order to make a successful application. From 5 November 2018, your documents may be copies; there will no longer be a requirement to submit original documents.

Many Tier 4 sponsors offer their students help in checking documents. Make sure you submit only the documents your Tier 4 sponsor has approved, as other formats may result in a refusal. If in doubt, go back to your Tier 4 sponsor before submitting a different document, even if the difference is very small.

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.


Low-risk applicants

Your qualifications

English language evidence

Evidence you meet the maintenance requirements

Check your financial documents carefully

Acceptable and unacceptable financial institutions

Official financial sponsors

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)



Police Registration Certificate

Syrian applicants

Applicants in Bangladesh