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Glossary of Immigration Terminology

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

This scheme is designed to ensure that those applying for postgraduate study in certain sensitive subjects do not acquire knowledge that could potentially be used in WMD programmes.  If you want to study a course leading to a postgraduate qualification in the United Kingdom, you may need to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate.  You will find more information on our website.

Biometric Residence Permits (BRP)

Biometric Residence Permits provide information that help public agencies, employers and educational establishments more easily understand a migrant’s entitlements. To create a BRP, the Home Office collects fingerprints and a facial image, otherwise known as biometrics.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

A CAS is not an actual certificate or paper document but it is a virtual document similar to a database record. Each CAS has a unique reference number and contains information about the course of study for which it was issued and the student’s personal details. Cardiff University provides new students with a CAS statement as soon as their application to study here has been successfully processed. Continuing students that need to extend their student visa will need to request a CAS statement from Registry.

A CAS statement holds some of the information that the University used when assigning your CAS for example course details, documents that the University used to assess your academic capability and fees due for the appropriate period of study. You will need this information to accurately complete your application form and to be sure of what supporting documents you will need to submit with your application.

A valid CAS is one that:

  • has the same details on it as in your passport; and
  • was assigned no more than 6 months before the date of application; and
  • has not been withdrawn or cancelled by the University or the Home Office.

A CAS cannot be used more than once. If your Tier 4 Student Visa application is refused, and you wish to make another application, you will need to get a new CAS statement from the University.
Having a valid CAS does not guarantee that your Tier 4 visa application will be successful. You must also meet all of the requirements of the Immigration Rules for Tier 4 (General) Students.

Credibility Interview

An interview conducted by the Home Office as part of your visa application during which an immigration staff member may ask you questions about your immigration history, your previous education, the course you are planning to study, your post study plans and your financial circumstances.


Those who depend on you financially, such as a husband, wife, partner, or children under 18. To see who can be classed as your dependant for immigration purposes please consult UKCISA- Bringing your family to the UK.

European Union (EU)

An amalgamation of twenty-eight independent states based on the European Communities. Formerly known as European Community (EC) or European Economic Community (EEC), the EU was founded to enhance political, economic and social co-operation. The 28 Member States of the European Union are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

European Economic Area (EEA)

The EEA was formed on 1 January 1994. The EEA represents an amalgamation of the European Union and the European Free Trade Area (which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway).

Entry Clearance

This is a sticker or "vignette" placed in a passport by a British diplomatic post abroad (not in the UK). Next to the word 'type’, it tells you what 'visa category' the person falls into e.g. 'student'. It is valid if it has not expired, which means that the 'valid until’ date on it has not yet arrived.

Foreign National

Also known as overseas national, the term foreign national applies to non-UK passport holders.

Further Leave to Remain

An extension of your existing permission to stay in the United Kingdom for a specified length of time.

Indefinite Leave to Enter/ Remain (ILE/R)

This is otherwise known as permanent residence. Indefinite Leave to Enter means that this right to permanent residence was issued by an Immigration Officer at the port of entry (e.g. Heathrow) to the UK. Indefinite Leave to Remain means that this right to permanent residence was issued by the Home Office within the UK rather than at the port of entry. People issued with ILE/R are not bound by any restrictions on the period for which they may remain in the UK.

Leave to Remain

Leave to remain is permission to stay in the UK, either temporarily ('limited leave to remain') or permanently ('indefinite leave to remain').  

Limited Leave to Remain

Permission to stay in the United Kingdom temporarily, for the length of time stated on your visa.


This means the money or funds available to support you when you apply under the points-based system to come to the United Kingdom to work, train or study. It is one of the categories for which you must gain points. A defined level of maintenance is required before you can make certain applications.

Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC)

OISC is the body responsible for ensuring that all immigration advisers meet the requirements of good practice.

Points Based System (PBS)

The PBS has been implemented by the Home Office. It is the most radical reworking of the immigration system in a generation. It is based on the Australian model and involves the consolidation of 80+ existing routes in to a structured 5 tier system. Applicants now need to pass a points based assessment to enter or remain in the UK. It applies to everyone who needs immigration permission to come to the UK to work or study, and to all organisations that offer them employment and/or courses of study. The five tiers are:

  • Tier 1- Highly skilled individuals
  • Tier 2- Skilled workers with a job offer
  • Tier 3- Low skilled workers to fill specific temporary labour shortages (currently not in use)
  • Tier 4- Students
  • Tier 5- Youth mobility and temporary workers

Public Funds

Public funds are benefits, paid by the UK government, that are related to your income. Claiming public funds when you are not entitled to them is known as 'benefit fraud', and is a criminal offence.

Sponsor duties

The responsibilities that organisations have when they sponsor migrants under the points-based system. The duties include record keeping, reporting, compliance, co-operating with the Home Office and tier specific duties.

Student Visitor Visa

A visa for courses which are 6 months or less (or a maximum of 11 months for English courses) and for which there will be no need of an extension of stay in the UK. It is prohibited to work on a Student Visitor Visa.

Tier 4 Student Visa

This is the visa needed to study a course of more than six months or a pre-sessional course to prepare for further study in the UK. A comprehensive guide to extending your student visa under Tier 4 of the Points Based System is available to download from our Extending your student visa through International Student Support website.

Tier 4 Sponsor Licence

All institutions now need a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence to enrol international students. Institutions must abide by the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance in order to maintain the ability to accept international students.

Tier 4 Sponsor LicenceNumber

A Tier 4 Sponsor Licence Number is issued to each institution that has joined the Home Office Sponsor Register. Cardiff University's sponsor licence number is: NB0C74WCX. This enables the University to sponsor students under Tier 4 of the PBS. By law, an institution cannot enrol a student who has a visa with a different licence number on it.

UK Visas and Immigration

Formerly the UKBA, UK Visas and Immigration is the branch of the Home Office which manages immigration policy and procedures in the UK.

Visa National

A person who is a national or citizen of certain countries and will always require a visa to come to the United Kingdom. These countries or territories are listed in Appendix 1 of the immigration rules.

Visitor Visa

This is a visa which is issued to people coming to the UK for recreational purposes. It is prohibited to work or to study on a Visitor Visa.


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 within. The government makes changes to the immigration rules and procedures on a regular basis, so 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.