You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:
- have been offered a place on a course
- can speak, read, write and understand English ·
- have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course - the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
- are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland meet the other eligibility requirements
When to apply
You can apply from 3 months before the start of your course.
You’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. You can check visa processing times for your country.
It costs £328 to apply for this visa from outside the UK.
You must pay £328 per person for any dependants.
You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.
How long you can stay
You can arrive in the UK before your course starts:
- up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less
- up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months
How long you can stay depends on the kind of course you’re doing and what study you’ve already completed.
What you can and can’t do
- work as a student union sabbatical officer
- apply from inside or outside the UK
- apply to extend your stay
· work in most jobs - depending on what level your course is and what kind of sponsor you have
- get public funds
- work in certain jobs, eg professional sportsperson or sports coach
- · study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school)
You may be able to bring in family members (dependants)
You must have:
- an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor
- enough money to support yourself and pay for your course - the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
You can do a course that’s one of the following:
- full-time leading to a qualification that’s at least level 6 on the Ofqual register
- · an overseas course of degree level study that’s equal to a UK higher education course and is being run by an overseas higher education institution
- · full-time, with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study, leading to a qualification which is at least level 3 on the Ofqual register
- · a recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist
- finished a recognised UK degree in medicine or dentistry
- received that degree from a registered Tier 4 sponsor
- spent your final year and at least 1 other year of studies leading to that degree in the UK
- 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’s lost its Tier 4 sponsorship
- applying to complete a PhD or other doctorate that you started studying under your last Tier 4 (General) student visa
- studying for a new qualification at a higher academic level
- studying for a new qualification at the same level and related to your previous course or career aspirations - it must be degree level or above at a Higher Education Institution (HEI)
- applying after working as a student union sabbatical officer to complete a qualification you started studying under your last Tier 4 (General) student visa
- you’re a national of Canada or any of the countries in the list above
- you have studied in the UK before as a Tier 4 (Child) student
- a current passport or other valid travel documentation
- your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
- Tier 1 (Post-study work)
- Tier 2 (General)
- Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer)
- Tier 2 (Minister of religion)
- Tier 4 (Child)
- student (under the rules in place before 31 March 2009)
- student re-sitting an examination
- student nurse
- students writing up a thesis
- student union sabbatical officer
- work permit holder
- postgraduate doctor or dentist
- Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme
- International Graduates Scheme
- Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
- within 6 months of getting a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
- your husband, wife or civil partner
- your unmarried or same-sex partner
- a Doctorate Extension Scheme student
- the length of your course
- where you’re studying in the UK
- whether you’ve finished a UK course or are currently studying
- print off and fill in the application form
- for priority service - there’s a limited number of places each day
- to use a premium service centre - they’ll need to go in person
Postgraduate doctors and dentists
You can apply for this visa if you’re sponsored to do a recognised foundation programme and you’ve:
Confirmation of acceptance for studies
Your education provider will send you a reference number called a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) once they’ve offered you a place on a course. You’ll need to enter this on your visa application.
You must apply for your visa no more than 6 months after you receive theCAS.
Further study in the UK
You can only get a CAS for a new course if you’ve studied in the UK before and you’re:
Knowledge of English
You must prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.
This usually means passing a secure English language test (SELT).
Where you’re studying
What you’re studying
Knowledge of English needed
Higher education institution (HEI)
Degree level or above
Reading, writing, listening and speaking
Equivalent to CEFR (Common European Framework for languages) level B2
Institution that’s not HEI
Degree level or above
SELT in reading, writing, listening and speaking
CEFR level B2
SELT in reading, writing, listening and speaking
CEFR level B1
HEIs can choose how to assess a student’s knowledge of English. They must still be at:
· CEFR level B2 if you’re studying at a degree level or higher
· SELT in reading, writing, listening and speaking and CEFR level B1 if you’re not studying at a degree level
Your test needs to be from an approved provider.
You don’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve recently completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree in:
You also don’t need to prove your knowledge of English if one of the following apply:
· you’re applying to come to the UK for a study abroad programme as part of a university degree course in the USA
4. Documents you must provide
When you apply for the visa you must provide:
· proof that you can support yourself and pay for your course - this will vary depending on your circumstances
· proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if you’re under 18
You need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa.
You may also need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.
Your documents will usually be sent back within 14 days.
Switch to this visa
You may be able to change (switch) to a Tier 4 (General) student visa if you’re in the UK under any of the following visas or schemes:
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.
When to apply
You must apply:
· before your current visa expires - but no more than 3 months before it expires
You can stay in the UK until you get your decision.
Your family members (dependants) might be able to apply to join or remain with you in the UK if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
A dependant is either:
· your child under 18 years old - including if they were born in the UK during your stay
You can apply to bring a dependant to the UK if you’re:
· sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at level 7 on the Ofqual register or above that lasts 1 year or more
· a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months
They’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of their application.
You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.
Each dependant must have a certain amount of money available to them - this is in addition to the money you must have to support yourself.
The amount of money you need depends on:
You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 28 days before you or they apply.
Dependants applying outside the UK
Your family members must apply online.
They’ll need to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of their application.
They’ll have to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when they said they’d arrive in the UK.
They may be able to get their visa faster or other services depending on what country they’re in - check with the visa application centre.
Your family members can’t apply online if they’re applying from North Korea.
To apply from North Korea they must:
Dependants applying in the UK
You should apply for your dependants’ visas at the same time as you extend or switch your own visa.
If you can’t do it at the same time, your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visas at a later date.
They can’t apply in the UK as dependants if they already have a Standard Visitor visa.
If your dependants want to get a decision more quickly than the standard 8 weeks, they can apply: