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. Your documents may be copies or originals.

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.

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

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Passport

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 does not 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, 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, you should check if you will be able to replace it in the UK as this is not possible for all nationalities. 

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Low-risk applicants

Some Tier 4 applicants do not need to provide evidence of their qualifications or their money. The Home Office calls this the 'differentiation arrangement' for 'low-risk applicants'.

You are a low-risk applicant if you apply for Tier 4 (General) student leave (inside or outside the UK) to study at an institution that has Tier 4 Sponsor status, and you have a passport issued by one of the countries or territories listed in Appendix H of the Immigration Rules

If you apply on or after 6 April 2019, this list of countries will be different. The following countries will no longer be on the list, which means you must submit evidence if your passport is issued by one of them:

  • Argentina
  • The Maldives
  • Trinidad and Tobago

The following countries will be added to the list on 6 April 2019, which means you will no longer be required to submit evidence of qualifications and maintenance if you hold a passport issued by one of them and apply for leave on or after 6 April:

  • Brazil
  • Kazakhstan
  • Mauritius
  • Oman
  • Peru
  • Tunisia

You are treated in the same way as a low-risk applicant, regardless of your nationality, if you apply for Tier 4 (General) student leave to study a Master's course at a university taking part in the Tier 4 pilot, and the course is 13 months or less. For more information about the pilot, see the Tier 4 Policy Guidance, annex 5. 

In our guidance, we provide specific information for low-risk applicants where appropriate. If we do not refer to low-risk applicants when talking about a specific matter, this means the requirements are the same for all applicants, including low-risk ones.

It is very important that as a low-risk applicant you still obtain the evidence of your qualifications and your money, even though you do not need to send them. This is because the Home Office can request this evidence as part of its decision-making process and will refuse your application if you are unable to provide it by the given deadline. The Home Office's modernised guidance for staff assessing Tier 4 applications says that a low-risk applicant who is found to have a record on the Police National Computer (PNC) will be asked for evidence of qualifications and money.

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Your qualifications

Send the certificate or transcript of results for all qualifications listed in the 'Evidence used to obtain offer' section of your CAS. You also have the option of submitting print outs of your  qualification or transcript results from the awarding body’s online checking service. The print outs must clearly show your name, the title and date of the award, and the name of the awarding body.

The Tier 4 policy guidance provides details of what is acceptable, under the heading 'Documents used to obtain a Tier 4 (General) CAS'. This includes the exception for students who have already studied in the UK, applied for a new course through UCAS and are making their Tier 4 application in the UK.

If you submit any certificates or transcripts that are not in English (or Welsh), you must also include a translation of each. Read the section on Translations for more details.

Low-risk applicants do not need to submit these documents, but should have them available in case the Home Office asks to see them.

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English language evidence

Your Tier 4 sponsor must confirm on your CAS that it has either assessed your level of English language in reading, writing, speaking and listening, or that it is not required to do so. 

Whether and how you need to provide evidence of English language in your Tier 4 application depends on what your Tier 4 sponsor has entered in this field of the CAS.  

National of a majority English-speaking country  
Evidence: your passport 

You have a degree-level qualification taught in a majority English-speaking country
Evidence: certificate or results transcript plus a statement of comparability from UK NARIC confirming that the qualification meets or exceeds the level of a UK degree.

You have completed a degree in the UK
Evidence: certificate or results transcript

Study abroad student
Evidence: confirmed on the CAS, no other evidence required.

Former Tier 4 (Child) student
Evidence:  confirmation on the CAS, certificate or transcript

'Gifted' degree student at a higher education institution
Evidence: confirmed on the CAS, letter from your institution you must carry with you when you enter the UK.

Your Tier 4 application is for degree-level study at a higher education institution, and you don't meet any of the previous provisions
Evidence: your CAS confirms that your Tier 4 sponsor has assessed your English language ability to be at a minimum of CEFR level B2 in each of the four components, and that your sponsor has used either its own method of assessment or one of the Home Office's approved secure English language tests (SELTs). If you used a SELT, enter the test reference number on your Tier 4 application form so that the Home Office can verify your SELT results online. No further evidence is required.

You Tier 4 application is for degree-level study at an institution that is not a higher education institution, and you don't meet any of the previous provisions
Evidence: ​your CAS confirms that your Tier 4 sponsor has assessed your English language ability to be at a minimum of CEFR level B2 in each of the four components, using one of the Home Office's approved secure English Language tests (SELTs). Enter the test reference number on your Tier 4 application form so that the Home Office can verify your SELT results online. No further evidence is required.

Your Tier 4 application is for study below degree level and you don't meet any of the previous provisions
Evidence: your CAS confirms that the Tier 4 sponsor has assessed your English language ability to be at a minimum of CEFR level B1 in each of the four components, using one of the Home Office's approved secure English language tests (SELTs). Enter the test reference number on your Tier 4 application form so that the Home Office can verify your SELT results online. No further evidence is required.

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Evidence you meet the maintenance requirements

If you are a 'low-risk' applicant, you should obtain the evidence of your money in the format explained here, but you do not need to include it with your initial application. All other applicants must include this evidence with their application.

Evidence of your money must meet specific requirements. If it does not, your immigration application is likely to be refused.

If you have already paid money to your institution for your course fees or accommodation, submit paper receipts with your application as evidence of this, unless this information is included in your CAS.  See Deductions for more information.

As evidence of your money, you can use any one or more of these forms of evidence:

  • personal bank statements
  • certificate(s) of deposit [see below]
  • letter from your bank, or a regulated financial institution
  • letter from an official financial sponsor [see below]
  • letter from a regulated financial institution confirming that you have a loan [see below] from the national government, the state or regional government, or a government-sponsored student loan company
  • letter from a regulated financial institution confirming that you have a loan [see below] that is part of an academic or educational loans scheme
  • statements of a passbook from a building society

Certificate of deposit

This is a certificate issued by a bank to confirm that the named person has deposited or invested a specific amount of money. Certificates of deposit are not listed as acceptable evidence in the Immigration Rules but the Home Office's modernised guidance for staff assessing Tier 4 applications confirms that a certificate of deposit is accepted if it meets both the following requirements:

  • the certificate of deposit must have been issued within 31 days of the date of application
  • at least 28 days must have elapsed between the date of the deposit and the date of issue of the certificate

There are no further requirements for the certificate. For example, there is no maximum time limit on how long you have held the funds, and a certificate is acceptable even if it has wording that says the funds are frozen or inaccessible. 

Loans

If you are applying for your visa from overseas the loan must be available to you before you travel to the UK, unless it is an academic or student loan from your country's national government and will be released to you when you arrive in the UK, or it is a loan for your living costs that is paid to your Tier 4 sponsor for passing to you.  Any other type of loan will not meet the Tier 4 requirements.  If you wish to use money from any other type of loan, you need to transfer the funds to a bank or building society account in your name (or a parent's name) and use one of the other forms of evidence listed above.

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Check your financial documents carefully

It is very important that your financial documents contain all of the required information, paragraph 1B, Appendix C of the Immigration Rules lists  the information that must be included in any financial document that you use to support your application.

Maintenance must be in the form of cash funds. You cannot use evidence of other types of finances, such as shares, bonds, or a pension fund. You also cannot use an overdraft facility or a credit card.

Unless you are using a loan letter, your financial documents must show that the full amount of money that you need has been in the account for 28 consecutive days up to the date of the closing balance. This means that the account must not have dropped below the amount that you need to show at any time during the 28 day period. If it does your immigration application is likely to be refused. In addition, the final date of this 28 day period must not be more than 31 days old on the date that you submit your application.

A loan letter must not be dated more than six months before the date on which you make your application. The loan must be in your name only.

A bank account can be in your name or in one or both of your parent's or legal guardian's name, and it can be a joint account you hold with someone else. You can use more than one account if necessary, and you can use a combination of your account(s) and your parent's or legal guardian's account(s).

You can use an overseas bank account. If your funds are not in British pounds (GBP), you should convert the closing balance into GBP using OANDA and the conversion rate on the date on which you make your application. Write this sum on the statement.

If you use statements which have been printed from online, they must include all the standard required information and must also either be stamped on every page, or be accompanied by a supporting letter from the bank or building society confirming that the statement is authentic. You cannot use mini-statements obtained from automatic teller machines (ATMs).

An online statement may have a 'date of issue' that is later than the last transaction shown in the statement. According to the Home Office's modernised guidance for staff assessing Tier 4 applications, an entry clearance officer or caseworker has the discretion to judge whether the balance is likely to have fallen between the last transaction and the date of issue, and whether this extrapolated lower balance would mean you do not meet the maintenance requirement. The guidance for Home Office staff says:

Banks will often stamp electronic statements with a 'date of issue' stamp. You may accept this as the date of the closing balance but where there is a gap between the last transaction date and the date of issue stamp, you must consider the type of account and the frequency of transactions.

For example, if the last transaction was two weeks before the date of issue stamp and the account is a savings account where transactions are infrequent, then you may accept that the balance will not have changed. If, however, the account is a current account where there are daily or weekly transactions, you must ask your senior caseworker for advice.

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Acceptable and unacceptable financial institutions

Appendix P of the Immigration Rules lists the banks in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, India, Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka whose documents can be safely used in immigration applications. It is possible to use documents from other banks in these countries, in which case the Home Office will need to verify the documents on a case-by-case basis. In Bangladesh, India, Iran, Pakistan and the Philippines you should also check that your bank is not on the "unacceptable" list.

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Using your parent(s)' or legal guardian(s)' funds

You may use a personal bank account in your parent's or guardian's name (or names). Business accounts are not acceptable because the Immigration Rules (Appendix C paragraph 1B) specify that accounts must be personal.

If you wish to use a personal bank account in your parent's or guardian's name (or names), you must also include evidence of their relationship to you. (If you are a 'low-risk' applicant you should obtain this evidence, but you do not need to include it with your application.) This evidence of your relationship with your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) can be:

  • your birth certificate, or a copy, showing the name of your parent(s) whose bank account you are using for your immigration application
  • if you are adopted, the certificate of adoption, or a copy, showing your name and the name of your parent(s) whose bank account you are using for your immigration application
  • if you have a legal guardian, a court document, or copy, which shows the name of your guardian(s) whose bank account you are using for your immigration application

If you do not have any of the above, but you have a government-issued household register showing your name and your parent or parents' name(s), the Home Office's modernised guidance for staff assessing Tier 4 applications confirms that this is acceptable evidence of your relationship, though this option is not listed on the application form or in the Tier 4 policy guidance.

The same page of this guidance also instructs Home Office staff to accept "whatever document a country issues and not restrict it only to those documents specifically called 'birth certificates'. " Therefore you can use whatever official document your country of nationality issues as evidence of its nationals' birth and family relationships, even if it is not called a 'birth certificate'. However, this provision is only for people whose country of nationality does not issue birth certificates at all. If your country of nationality does issue birth certificates then you must submit this as evidence of your relationship to your parent(s).

You must also provide a signed letter from your parent(s) or legal guardian(s), confirming the relationship between you, and confirming that they consent to the funds being available to you for study in the UK.

Any other relative (or unrelated person) can pay money direct to your Tier 4 sponsor on your behalf, for example to pay your course fees or housing costs.  However, any evidence of money that you submit in support of your Tier 4 application (for example bank statements) must be in your name or in your parent's / legal guardian's name (or names). 

You cannot use evidence of money held in any other  person's name, even if you have their permission to do so. If someone who is not your parent or guardian is giving you money for your living costs, they will need to put the money in your own account (or in your parent or legal guardian's account), allowing enough time for you (or your parent or legal guardian) to hold the funds for at least 28 days and get evidence of this, before you apply for your Tier 4 visa.

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Official financial sponsors

Official financial sponsors are defined in the Tier 4 policy guidance, and the guidance sets out the requirements of their letter of financial sponsorship. If your official financial sponsor is your university, you do not need a letter if the details of your financial sponsorship are on your CAS.  

If your official financial sponsor is a government and they have sent you a sponsor letter by email, a print of this letter should be acceptable as evidence of the sponsorship. The entry clearance officer can still ask for an original letter, so it is a good idea to ask your government sponsor for a paper copy too.    

The list of acceptable official financial sponsors includes an 'international company'. The Home Office has not defined this but means a company with a trading presence (an office) in more than one country.

If you are a 'low-risk' applicant, you should obtain the sponsor letter and keep it safe, but you do not need to include it with your initial application.

If your official financial sponsor is not covering all of your course fees and maintenance, you must show that you have the rest of the money required.  You can use any combination of the forms of evidence listed above.

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Consent of current or previous official financial sponsor

Your evidence of funds letter, if provided by a government or an international scholarship agency, must also specifically state that your financial sponsor consents to your Tier 4 (General) student application.

This consent letter is also required if you have previously received financial sponsorship from a government or international scholarship agency and the sponsorship ended less than 12 months ago.

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Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

If your course leads to a qualification at Master's or doctorate level, or a postgraduate qualification abroad, ask the university whether you need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate for the course. This is a certificate issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which gives you security clearance to study certain subject areas where the knowledge gained may have application in the development of weapons of mass destruction (for example, certain science subjects, mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine). You can check the list of subject areas that require an ATAS clearance certificate in the Applicants' criteria section of the ATAS website.

Your institution must confirm on your CAS whether you require an ATAS clearance certificate. If you do, you must apply to the FCO and obtain your ATAS clearance certificate before you submit your Tier 4 application.

When your ATAS clearance certificate is issued, it is valid for 6 months to use in a Tier 4 application. Once you have used it in your application, it gives you security clearance for the whole proposed period of study on your CAS. You will not need to apply again unless your original course end date is delayed or postponed by more than three months or your course contents or research proposal change. 

Students who apply to study a course of any length in a relevant subject area require ATAS clearance. This includes short-term students - see Short-term student visa.

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Parents' consent if you are under 18 years old

If you submit an application as a Tier 4 (General) student when you are 16 or 17 years old, you must include a letter from your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) to show that they support your application. This letter must confirm all of the following:

  • their relationship to you
  • that they consent to your application as a Tier 4 (General) student
  • that they consent to your living arrangements in the UK
  • if you are applying for entry clearance, that they consent to your independent travel to the UK

If one parent (or legal guardian) has legal custody or sole responsibility for you, the letter must confirm this and be signed by that parent (or legal guardian). If not, then both parents (or legal guardians) must give their consent and the letter must be signed by both parents (or legal guardians).

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Translations

If your application includes any documents which are not in English or Welsh, you must also include a translation of each document. Each translation must contain:

  • confirmation from the translator / translation company that it is an accurate translation of the original document
  • the date of the translation
  • the full name and signature of the translator, or of an authorised official of the translation company
  • the contact details of the translator or translation company; and
  • (if you are already in the UK and are applying for further leave) certification by a qualified translator and details of the translator or translation company’s credentials

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Photographs

Applications made in the UK and decided on or after 5 November 2018 do not require photographs. 

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Police Registration Certificate

If your most recent immigration permission has the condition to register with the police, you must send your police registration certificate with your Tier 4 application.

Make sure your police registration certificate is up to date and shows your current address and current immigration status. For more information, see Tier 4 conditions.

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Syrian applicants

Syrian nationals applying for Tier 4 (General) student leave in the UK who are not able to obtain the required documents should explain this and refer to the concession for Syrians. If you need to rely on this concession, you should speak to an immigration adviser before you apply.

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