Tier 4 Student Visa

A Tier 4 visa is issued to study in the UK. The sponsor for Tier 4 Visas must be the educational institution where the student will study. The visa is issued for a particular course at the institution. Read the requirements below.

You (as a foreign national) can apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa to study in the UK if:

  • You are 16 years of age or over
  • You have an unconditional offer for a place on a course;
  • You can speak, read write and understand English to the appropriate level;
  • You have enough money to support him/ herself and pay for the course;
  • You are from a country that is not in the EU or Switzerland and meets the other eligibility requirement.

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU whilst the UK remains in the EU.

When to apply for Tier 4 Student Visa?

The earliest a candidate can apply for a Visa is three months before the start date of the course.

How long can you stay under Tier 4 Student Visa?

You can arrive in the UK before the course commences up to one week before a full-time course that last six months or less and up to one month before if your course lasts more than six months and how long you stay depends on the type of course you have been enrolled in and how long it takes to complete your course.

What can I do under Tier 4 Student Visa?

Study; work as a student union sabbatical officer; apply from inside or outside the UK to extend your stay; work in most jobs depending on what level the course is at during term time on a restricted hours basis, and as long as you wish during holidays. You should also be able to bring family members with you who are your dependants see below further.

What can’t I do under Tier 4 Student Visa?

Obtain benefits from the UK; working certain jobs, for example, professional sportspersons or sports coach; study at an academic or local authority funded school also known as a maintained school;

Eligibility requirements for obtaining Tier 4 Visa

  • An unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor;
  • sufficient money to support yourself and pay for your course, the amount will vary depending on your circumstances.

Your course

  • Can be full-time and lead to a qualification that’s at least on level 6 on the Ofqual register
  • Can be part-time and lead to a qualification that’s at least on level 7 on the Ofqual register
  • Can be an overseas course of degree level study, one that is equal to a UK higher education course and is being run by an overseas education institution
  • Can be full-time, with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study and lead to a qualification at least on level 3 on the Ofqual register
  • Can be a recognised foundation programme, for example, a postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • Can an English language course at level B2 or above (enquire more details about what is allowed here)


You can apply for this Visa if you are a sponsored to do a recognised foundation programme and have finished recognised UK degree in medicine or dentistry; receive that degree from a registered Tier 4 sponsor; spent your final year and at least one other year of studies leading to that degree in the UK.


Your education provider will send you a reference number called the confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS), once they have offered you a place on a course. You will need to enter this on your Visa application. Furthermore, you must apply for your Visa no more than six months after you receive the CAS


You can get only a CAS in certain situations if you’re applying from within the UK.


You can get a CAS if you are re-sitting exams or repeating modules; applying for the first time to a new institution to complete a course you started at an institution that lost its Tier 4 sponsorship licence; applying to extend your stay to complete your studies because you’ve done or want to do a work placement or study abroad program; completing a PhD or other doctorate that you started studying under your Tier 4 student Visa; applying after working as a student union sabbatical officer to complete a qualification you started studying under your Tier 4 student Visa; continuing your medical, dentistry or medical science degree after completing course.


You can get a CAS if your course is one of the following: – at a higher academic level than your previous course; at the same level and related to your previous course or career aspirations, but it must be a degree level or above at a higher education Institute; related to a medicine, dentistry or medical science course you started studying under Tier 4 student visa.


You can get a CaS if you’re applying to either work as a student union sabbatical officer or staying in the UK to look for work after you have finished your PhD or doctorate, and this is called the doctor extension scheme – DES.

Knowledge of English for Tier 4 Student Visa Application

You must prove your knowledge of the English language when applying for Tier 4 Visa. This usually means passing a secure English language test (SELT). For higher education institution, degree level or above, you will need to be able to read/write listen and speak and the equivalent will be to the common European framework for languages 9 CEFR), level B2. If it is below degree level the level should be CEFR level BI.

Are there any exceptions to having to take the test?

If you are from an English-speaking country or have completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree in English or you have a UK degree from a UK university, in the circumstances you will not need to take an English language course.

What documents must I provide to apply for Tier 4 Student Visa?

A current passport or other valid travel documentation; proof that you can support yourself and pay for your course, and this will vary depending on your circumstances; proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if you are under the age of 18; proof of your relationship with your parent or guardian; your tuberculosis test result if you are from a country where you have to take the test. You may also need to provide additional information depending on your circumstances.

Tier 4 Visa Extension

You may be able of the stay longer to continue your course of study if you still meet the eligibility requirements for the Visa and continue to have a sponsor. Please note that you should not be studying for the same level course for a period of more than five years such as for example for a first-degree. If you do so the chances are that you will be refused an extension of a Tier 4 Visa on the basis that you’re not a genuine student.

Can I switch to another type of Visa?

You may be to change that that is to switch to a Tier 4 student visa if you are in the UK under any of the following Visa schemes, for example Tier 2 general, Tier 2 inter-company transfer, Tier 2 minister of religion, Tier 4 child. Furthermore, you should include any dependants who are on your current Visa on your application to extend, including children who have turned 18 during your stay but were under 18 at the time of the previous application.

Family members

Your family members who are dependants might be able to apply to join or remain with you in the UK if they are from outside the European economic area (EEA) or Switzerland, and a dependent is either your husband, wife or civil partner; unmarried or same-sex partner; your child under 18 years old including if they were born in the UK during your stay.

For more information regarding visas or other areas of UK immigration, visit our immigration section here .

Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors has an exceptional legal team that can help you with all UK visa matters. Established in 1985, our firm has the reputation of being the best immigration law firm in London and one of the top immigration law firms in the UK. We have over 30 years of experience and are listed in the legal 500 Hall of Fame. We have a team of specialist lawyers and support staff of great ability and experience. Contact us to speak with one of our immigration lawyers. Call: 0207 269 9590 or email: info@gulbenkian.co.uk

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