Applying for a student visa in your home country
If you are currently in your home country and need to apply for Tier 4 entry clearance to return to the UK to resume your studies, e.g. to take re-sit examinations or after taking an interruption of studies, you will need to provide specific documents to make your application successful.
When to apply
You can apply for Tier 4 entry clearance up to three months before the start date of the course as shown on your CAS statement. 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 more than 3 months before the start date of your programme. The date of your application is the date that you pay online (with the exception of North Korea). If you apply too early, your application will be refused and you will lose the application fee.
Before making your application for entry clearance there are various information resources available to help you:
- 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, most likely. The Home Office interviews most Tier 4 student applicants before granting them permission to come to the UK. 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 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 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 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 detailed information about the application procedures and the documents that you must provide. If your documents do not exactly match the requirements 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 residence. You must apply online, unless you are in North Korea where you must apply in person.
The online form asks you to select the visa type as follows:
Reason for Visit: Study
Visa Type: PBS Tier 4 Student
Visa Sub Type: Tier 4 General Student
Check the visa processing times in your home country for an indication of how long it will take for your application to be processed.
Please note: if you want to collect your Biometric Residence Permit from Cardiff University then you must include the following ACL (Alternative Collection Location) code on your application: 2HE562
Step 3- Score 40 points
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; 10 points for having enough money (maintenance) to cover both your course fees and your living expenses.
Step 4- Meet the maintenance requirement
Work out how much money you need in order to meet the maintenance requirement and score the required 10 points. The information below explains how much money you will need:
Lower maintenance category
You fall in to the lower maintenance category and have to show that you have access to one year’s tuition fees plus £1640 (i.e. living expenses for two months) if you have a current Tier 4 (General) visa 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 more than 6 months
• Have an unconditional offer for a new course which starts within 28 days of the expiry date of your current visa and the course you have just finished was at least 6 months
If your Tier 4 (General) visa has expired, you will not fall in to the lower maintenance category, even if your previous or current course was 6 months or longer.
Higher maintenance category
If you do not meet the criteria listed above, you fall under 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.
Below is a list of the required documentation. Disclaimer: Cardiff University accepts no legal responsibility for its accuracy. It is your responsibility to check the Tier 4 Policy Guidance to ensure you have provided all 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's strict guidance;
- The visa fee, 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.You can request a CAS statement through SIMS. Log in using your username and password and select 'request CAS statement' option. If you need further assistance contact Registry. Allow 5 working days to receive the CAS statement email. This will be sent to the email address held on SIMS. Print this email and submit with your application.
- All qualifications listed on your CAS statement (if applicable)- this will be the academic and English qualifications that the University assessed when it accepted you for your course;
- Proof you have enough money to meet the maintenance requirements. See our Guide to extending your student visa 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. 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 certain countries are required to provide a medical certificate confirming they are clear of Tuberculosis if they are coming to the UK for more than six months. 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 which meet the strict Home Office requirements outlined in our Guide to extending your student visa .
- Since the 6th April 2015 you also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. For further information on this please see visit the Home Office website .
Step 6- Receive your visa
Visa valid for 6 months or less:Your visa will be issued as a vignette (sticker) in your passport
Visa valid for 6 months or more:You will be issued with a vignette (sticker) in your passport which is valid for 30 days and will allow you to travel to the UK.Your 30-day vignette will be accompanied by a letter. When you enter the UK you should show the border force officer your 30-day vignette and the letter.
If you do not travel to the UK during this 30 day period then your vignette will expire and you will need to apply for another 30-day vignette if you still wish to travel to the UK. You will have to pay a fee for this new application and provide your biometric information again, but you will not have to submit a new Tier 4 application. Information about applying for a new vignette is contained within Home Office guidance for staff.
You must collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within ten days of arriving in the UK. You can be fined or your visa can be cancelled if you do not collect your BRP within 10 days. If you have included the ACL (Alternative Collection Location) code 2HE562 on your visa application you can collect your BRP from Cardiff University rather than the Post Office
The Home Office has published guidance about BRPs, including information about what to do if you lose your letter and/or 30-day vignette before you have collected your BRP.
Step 7- Check your vignette and letter
When you receive your vignette and letter, check them carefully to make sure:
- your name and date of birth are correct;
- it states you are a Tier 4 student;
- Cardiff University's sponsor licence number is included: NB0C74WCX;
- the vignette starts on or before the date you want to travel to the UK;
- the visa will 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. You can access this on our 'correct lengths of visa' page.
If there is anything wrong with your visa, ask to have it changed immediately. Do this before you travel. It is more difficult to make changes after you travel.
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information herein, Cardiff University can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions.
Cardiff University is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed.
The government makes changes to the immigration rules and procedures on a regular basis; it is important that you check the current guidance and rules when applying for a visa. For further information visit UKCISA and the Home Office websites.