Applying for a student visa in your home country
If you are currently in your home country and need to apply for a Tier 4 entry clearance visa to come back to the UK to resume your studies e.g. to take re-sit examinations or after taking an interruption of study, then you will need to provide specific documents in order to make a successful application.
When to apply
You can apply for a Tier 4 entry clearance visa up to three months before the start date of the course as shown on your CAS statement. Please note if the course start date on your CAS statement has passed when you apply, your application will be refused.
Do not apply for your Tier 4 entry clearance visa more than 3 months before the start date of your programme. The date of your application is the date that you pay online or pay at the visa application centre. If you apply too early, your application will be refused and you will lose the application fee.
Before making your application for entry clearance as a student there are various information resources available to help you. You should read the following:
- UKCISA information on applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa
- Home Office information on applying for a Tier 4 (General) student visa
Do I have to go for an interview as part of my application?
Yes possibly. The Home Office intends to interview most Tier 4 student applicants before granting them immigration permission to come to the UK. Therefore you might be sent an email asking you to attend an interview as part of the application process. You should check your email (including the 'junk' folder) regularly as your application is likely to be refused if you are asked to attend an interview and you do not do so without providing a reasonable explanation.
Interviews take place when you attend a visa application centre to give your biometric information. A Home Office member of staff will ask you about your course, where you want to study and your reasons for studying in the UK. The report of the interview will be sent to the Entry Clearance Officer who makes the decision on your Tier 4 application. The Entry Clearance Officer must be satisfied that you are a genuine student, and that your English language ability is at the correct level, otherwise you might be called for a further interview and/ or your entry clearance application may be refused.
Step by step guide to applying for entry clearance
Step 1- Research
Take time to read the websites referred to above. They contain a lot of very detailed information about the application procedures and also about the documents that you must provide. If your documents do not exactly match the requirements as set out in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance, your application will be refused and you will have wasted your application fee and a lot of time.
Step 2- Apply online
You apply for Tier 4 entry clearance outside the UK, in the country where you live or where you have nationality. You can apply online, unless you are in Cuba, North Korea or Zimbabwe where you must apply in person.
The online form asks you to specify which type of Tier 4 application you are making:
- Tier 4 (General): for most applications
- Tier 4 (sponsored): for applicants with an official financial sponsor
- Tier 4 (scholarship): for applicants with a Chevening Scholarship or Fellowship, a British Marshall Scholarship, a Fulbright Scholarship, or a Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships Plan
Check the visa processing times in your home country for an indication of how long it will take for your application to be processed.
Step 3- Score 40 points
Please note to qualify for a Tier 4 student visa you will need to have 40 points in total: 30 points for studying a course at an acceptable level with an approved education provider; and 10 points for having enough money (also known as the maintenance requirement) to cover both your course fees and your living expenses.
Step 4- Meet the maintenance requirement
Work out how much money you will need in order to meet the maintenance requirement and score the required 10 points. The information below explains whether you will fall in to the lower or higher maintenance category.
Lower maintenance category: You will fall in to the lower maintenance category and have to show that you have access to one year's tuition fees plus £1,640 (i.e. living expenses for two months) if you have a current Tier 4 student visa (i.e. it has not expired) and on the date of application you:
- need to extend your stay in the UK to complete your current course, which you have been studying for at least 6 months; or
- have an unconditional offer for a new course which starts within 1 month of the expiry date of your current visa and the course you have just finished was 6 months or longer.
Higher maintenance category: If you do not meet the criteria listed above, you will fall in to the higher maintenance category and must be able to show that you have access to one year's tuition fees plus living expenses of £820 per month for the length of your course, up to a maximum of 9 months (£7,380).
Step 5- Prepare documents
Make sure you enclose all the required documents with your application. All documents except the CAS statement must be originals: scanned copies, faxes and emails are not acceptable. You should submit a photocopy of each document in addition to the original document itself.
Below is a list of the required documentation. Please note however that Cardiff University accepts no legal responsibility for its accuracy. It is your responsibility to check the Tier 4 Policy Guidance to ensure that you have provided all the necessary documentation. You should also read the Home Office guidance on documents you must provide.
- Current passport;
- 2 recent passport sized photographs. These must meet the Home Office strict guidance;
- The visa fee of £322, which is non-refundable, and must normally be paid in the currency of the country where you are applying;
- A CAS statement from Cardiff University. CAS stands for Confirmation of Acceptance for Study. It is a virtual document similar to a database record. Each CAS has a unique reference number and contains information about your course and your personal details. You can request a CAS statement through SIMS. You will need to log in using your username and password and select the 'request CAS statement' option. If you need further assistance please contact Registry. Allow 5 working days to receive the CAS statement email. This will be sent to the email address held on SIMS. You must print this email and submit with your application.
- All qualifications listed on your CAS statement (if applicable)- this will normally be the academic and English qualifications that the University took into account when deciding to accept you for the course which you are studying;
- Proof that you have enough money to meet the maintenance requirements. Please see our Guide to extending your student visa (pages 8-10) for full details about what documentation you will need to provide;
- Your biometric details, which you will have to provide in person. This will involve scans of all 10 fingers and a full-face digital photograph. The whole procedure should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. Your visa application will not be processed until you have met this requirement.
- Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Certificate (if applicable);
- Tuberculosis Certificate (if applicable) Students from some countries are required to provide a medical certificate confirming that they are clear of Tuberculosis, if they are coming to the UK for more than six months. You should check Appendix T of the Immigration Rules for a full list of countries that require TB screening
- Translations of any documents that are not in English. These must meet the strict Home Office requirements which are outlined in our Guide to extending your student visa (page 7).
Step 5- Check your visa
When you receive your visa you should check it carefully to make sure:
- your name and date of birth are correct;
- it says that you are a Tier 4 student;
- it includes Cardiff University's sponsor licence number: NB0C74WCX;
- it starts on or before the date that you want to travel to the UK;
- it does not end sooner than you expect. When considering your application for entry clearance (a visa) the British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in your country should comply with the Home Office guidance on visa lengths, which you can access on our correct lengths of visa page.
If there is anything wrong with your visa, ask to have it changed immediately, before you travel. It is more difficult to make changes after you travel.