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UK Student Visas - Tier 4 (General)

Every year, the UK government accepts thousands of international students who have successfully gained a visa to study in the United Kingdom and the limit on the number of issued student visa is not restricted. However, the Home Office of the UK government manages the UK immigration and visas and more information can be acquired from the UK Visas and Immigration website.

The Tier 4 General is the UK student visa category; created for students who are over the have of 16 and are looking to study in the UK.

Points required for a Tier 4 general student

The Tier 4 General (student visa) is a point-based system application; applicants will need to score a minimum of 40 points in order to qualify under In order to qualify under this category (Tier 4 General Student), you are required to score 40 points.

  • 30 points for holding an authentic confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) which will be issued to you for having acceptable English Language prowess, and for studying an acceptable level course with an approved education institution or Tier 4 Sponsor.
  • 10 for financial capability to meet cost of living, maintenance and fees for the course.

Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)

A confirmation of acceptance of studies (CAS) is a ‘virtual document’ akin to a database record. The CAS contain a unique reference number that shows that the university has offered you a place to study in their institution subject to no other conditions

A CAS is valid if the following apply: -

  • The personal details of the applicant on the CAS is the same with what is on the applicant’s passport; and
  • The CAS was issued within six months of the Tier 4 (general) visa application; and
  • Neither the Home Office nor your education institution has not withdrawn the CAS.

Please note that, after a successful issuance of a CAS, it must be used within 6 months, failure of which would result in the expiration of the CAS. A visa application with an expired CAS will result in an automatic refusal.

The CAS may not be used two times. The implication of this is that in the event of a refusal, the educational institution will need to issue another CAS (if you want to reapply).

Importantly, you are expected to be making an application to:

  • Undertake a full-time course in the United Kingdom that fulfils the added requirements below: or
  • Partake as a postgraduate doctor or dentist in an acknowledged Foundation Programme in the United Kingdom; or
  • Take up job in the United Kingdom as a sabbatical officer of the student union.

In case you are to do a full-time course which is not a Foundation Programme, it is required that the course would:

  • Issue you a qualification that is higher than level 6 of the revised National Qualifications Framework (NQF) or equivalent;
  • Be part of your higher education course in a foreign institution as a short-term ‘study abroad’ programme;
  • Be a course in English Language which would be higher than level B2 of the common European Framework Reference for Languages (CEFR); or
  • Be a course at any level of English Language if you are a student sponsored by a government; or
  • Require a minimum of 15 hours of organized daytime study weekly (daytime is 08:00am to 06:00pm from Monday to Friday).

In case the course is not an English Language course or is lesser than level 6 of the revised National Qualifications Framework (NQF) or its equivalent, it is required that the course would:

  1. Be a course accredited at level 3 of the Qualifications and Credits Framework (QCF) or National Qualifications Framework (NQF) or higher; or a course approved at level 6 in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) or higher, if your study will be with a Sponsor that is highly Trusted; or
  2. Be a course accredited at level 4 of the QCF or NCF or higher; or a course approved at level 6 of the SCQF or higher, if your study will be with a sponsor that is rated as an A (Trusted) or B (Sponsor); or
  3. Be a course you study as preparation for the major course of study in the United Kingdom.

A National Qualification Framework (NQF) Level 3 is equivalent to a United Kingdom ‘A level’. While the National Qualification Framework (NQF) Level 6 is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree of the United Kingdom.

What does academic progression mean?

An individual who has studied in the United Kingdom in the past under Tier 4 (General) or in line with the Rules in existence before the 31st of March 2009, he/she cannot be issued a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) on or after the 4th of July 2011 by the the Tier 4 sponsor except:

  • The new course depicts academic progression from the former course of study;
  • He/she is retaking an examination or is redoing an academic module;
  • He/she is applying to be transferred to another institution so as to complete the course that he/she has previously started.

More so a CAS may be issued to you in order to enable you take up a new course of study higher academically than that previously done; or so that you can take up a course that contributes extra features to the course done at the same academic standing.

Can I do extra courses and/or studies while you are in the UK as a Tier 4 student?

You are allowed to do extra courses (such as evening courses) in addition to your main studies. The course can be on any subject, and does not have to relate to your main course of study.

You do not need to get the Home Office, UKBA permission in order to do extra studies, and you do not need to tell your Tier 4 sponsor. But you must ensure that the extra course does not stop you from doing the course that you have permission to stay for.

Challenging a Tier 4 student visa refusal

If the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) rejects your application for a Tier 4 General student visa, you are permitted to lodge an Administrative review against your application’s rejection in no more than 28 days after which the letter of refusal was received. The decision of the ECO will be reviewed by the Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) based on the reasons lodged that supports the request for Administrative Review.

Is a visa needed for an individual to study in the UK?

The need to acquire a visa to study in the UK is determined by the Immigration status and nationality of the applicant or individual. For more information, check the following website: www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa

The application process involve the following:-

  • The applicant will need to make available documentary evidence showing maintenance funds;
  • The applicant will be required to enrol his/her biometric information or be present for an interview;
  • He/she may also be expected to take an English Language Test.

A decision on the student visa should be made within three weeks. For more information on how long it takes for an individual to get a visa in their country, check the UK Visas and Immigration guide to processing times.

What kind of Tier 4 visa do I need

An individual who wants to study a short course or an English language course for up to eleven months in the UK can apply for the following visas:

  • Short-term student visa: An individual looking to study for up to six months in the UK can apply if he or she is aged eighteen and above. An extended visa of eleven months can be applied for if he or she wants to join an English language course.
  • Short-term student (child) visa: An individual who wants to study in the UK for a period of six months can apply for a visa if he or she is aged from seventeen or younger.

A student who wants to study for a longer course in the UK can apply for the following two visas:

  • Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa: An individual can apply for this type of visa if he/she is between the ages of four and seventeen years of age. An individual can also apply for this visa if he/she is between the ages of four and fifteen years of age and must be coming to the UK for education at an independent fee-paying school.
  • Tier 4 (General) Student Visa: An individual who wants to study in the UK can apply for this type of visa if they are from ages sixteen and above and certain eligible requirements are met.

English language tests for student visas

An English language test may need to be taken by some students who are applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa as part of their application process. It is important to note that changes may occur on the UK Government guidelines and regulations that are on the secure English language test (SELT) providers. These changes may affect the tests an individual takes to meet visa requirements depending on where the individual is from and the type of course he/she is studying. Any English language requirements established by the individual’s university or college may also be affected by these changes.

IHS Surcharge

A further NHS health surcharge of £150 per year needs to be paid by the applicant if he or she is applying for a visa to the UK for more than six months. This is also applicable to students applying from within and outside the UK. For additional details, please see the UKCISA website. For full official information, see the Gov.uk website.

Entry Clearance - Tier 4 General Student

This category (Tier 4 General Student) is a category that is Point Based. These points are awarded for Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and Funds for Maintenance. An individual who is resided outside the United Kingdom can make an application to enter the UK as a Tier 4 General Student from his/her Home country of origin by making submissions to the British Embassy or High Commission of an entry clearance application.

If you are looking to come into the country on a Tier 4 visa, you may need to make an entry clearance application into the UK as a Tier 4 general migrant.

The following steps outline all you need to make a successful application: -

  1. Receive an unconditional offer from the University
  2. Obtain a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)
  3. Pay the Health Surcharge
  4. TB Screening
  5. Financial documents
  6. Supporting documents
  7. Apply for a Visa
  8. Attend a visa application centre
  9. Decision and Passport collection

Receive an unconditional offer from the University

Once you have made your application, you should expect to receive an offer from the university in line with their processing times. Note that if you receive a conditional offer, you may not be able to proceed with a visa application till you meet the conditions of that offer and now have an unconditional offer. Once you have received an unconditional offer, you may proceed to the next stage.

Obtain a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies

Having received an unconditional offer, you must then accept the offer according to the terms and procedures specified by the UK educational institution. Upon acceptance, you will then be issued a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies. This is a reference number issued by the Home Office unique to your application.

Apply for a visa

Once you have obtained your CAS, you can then begin to prepare your visa application. If you are not sure, please seek professional advice.

This category (Tier 4 General Student) is Point Based immigration category. These points are awarded for Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and Funds for Maintenance. An individual who is resided outside the United Kingdom can make an application to enter the UK as a Tier 4 General Student from his/her Home country of origin by making submissions to the British Embassy or High Commission of an entry clearance application.

Switching Into Tier 4 General Student

The Tier 4 General Student is a Point Based Immigration category; where points are awarded for Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and Funds for Maintenance in order to qualify for leave to remain under the route. An individual can choose to switch to the Tier 4 General Student Visa if he/she is already residing in the UK on a valid visa and is permitted by the Immigration Laws to switch from their current visa unto the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa.

The individual can make an application for the Tier 4 (General) Student visa category, if he/she was previously granted or is given authority to remain in the United Kingdom under any of the following visa categories:

  • Tier 4 (General) Student,
  • Tier 4 (Child) Student,
  • Tier 1 (Post-study Work) Migrant,
  • Tier 2 Migrant,
  • International Graduates Scheme Participant (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme),
  • Fresh Talent Participant: Working in Scotland Scheme,
  • Postgraduate Doctor or Dentist,
  • Prospective Student,
  • Student,
  • Student Nurse,
  • Student Re-sitting an Examination,
  • Student Writing-Up a Thesis,
  • Student Union Sabbatical Officer,
  • Work Permit Holder.

 It is important to note that there is cap on how long you can study on a Tier 4 visa. Usually your sponsor, in this case the University would normally have checked if you have exceeded this cap before issuing you a CAS.

As a general rule, you cannot spend more than 5 years on a Tier 4 visa. You may only extend after 5 years on either exceptional circumstances or if you are applying to study a PhD.

The immigration rules are clear on the fact that the 5 years includes all other periods including the extra period added to your visa after your course. This means that if you were granted a leave for 4 years and you had to extend your visa because you had an extra year, this counts towards your 5 years.

If you have started the course on a Tier 4 before you reached 18 years of age, the time spent on Tier 4 in this instance does not count towards the 5 years cap. Also, time spent on any level below NQF level 6 may not count. There are different caps on other NQF levels for Tier 4 visas.

Also, if and when a Tier 4 visa is curtailed, only the period before the visa was curtailed will be counted.

Feel free to contact us today if you need assistance from one of our immigration lawyers.

Tier 4 Visa Extension

This category (Tier 4 General Student) is a Point Based System Immigration category. These points are awarded for Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and Funds for Maintenance. An individual who seeks to extend his/her residence in the UK if he/she is already in possession of a valid Tier 4 Students Visa, the individual can make the application to extend to the Home Office, United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA). It is required by the UK Immigration that the application be made in no more than 28 days between the date of expiry and the scheduled date for the commencement of the new course. In a situation where there is more than 28 days between the date of expiry of the visa and the scheduled date for the commencement of the new course, the individual is then required by the UKBA to leave the UK and make the application for the Tier 4 General Student Visa from his/her home country of origin making submissions to the British Embassy or High Commission of an entry clearance application.

If you are looking to extend your Tier 4 leave to remain, we expect that your current grant of leave to remain in the UK is as a Tier 4 (General) Student. It is important to note that you may not be able to apply to extend your Tier 4 visa if you are currently in the UK as a Short-term Student or a Visitor.

There may be numerous reasons why you may need to extend your leave to remain as a Tier 4 migrant; some of which include; extension on the basis that you have failed a course, you want to change your course of study or you are progressing to a higher NQF level.

It is also important to note that there is a cap on the number of years you can spend at a particular NQF level. A degree course for example is level 6. You may not be able spend more than 5 years on your Tier 4 whilst studying your degree course. If for any reason you have to extend your course, it must be within the 5 years cap. Any further application will have to be made outside the UK.

Academic progression

Essentially what this means is that you cannot extended visas moving along the same NQF level. As with the example above, you cannot extend a tier 4 visa in the UK to do a second bachelor’s degree. Not only will you not qualify because you would have in effect spent more than 5 years, you will also not be able to apply in-country because you are doing another course on level 7.

The crux of the concept of academic progression mean that visa applications must show an upward movement academically for the migrant. From NQF level 3, to NQF level 4, 5, 6 and so on.

Academic progression also mean that your next course of study must complement your current course of study. Note also, that if you are applying to extend your Tier 4 visa because of a resit, you do not need to show academic progression.

The requirement of academic progression makes it impossible to apply to extend your visa in the UK regardless of whether or not you meet the other criteria.

Should you need help in making a tier 4 application, please contact one of our immigration solicitors on 02037442797 or drop us an email on info@reissedwards.co.uk

Entry Clearance As / Switching Into Dependants of Government Sponsored Tier 4 General Students

An individual can be regarded as a family member of a Tier 4 (General) applicant in a situation where the applicant is making an application to enter, or have been offered entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain as a Tier 4 (General) Student in the United Kingdom, if the applicant is a student sponsored by the government who is making an application for, or has been offered entry clearance or leave to remain in the UK in order to undertake a course of study which will last for more than six months.

In order to switch into a Point Based System (PBS) dependant of the Tier 4 (General) Student, you must not possess:

  • A Leave to enter or remain as a visitor; or
  • A temporary release or temporary admission.

Entry Clearance As / Switching Into Dependants of Tier 4 Students With Post Graduate Course

An individual can be acknowledged as family member of a Tier 4 (General) applicant in a situation where the applicant is making an application to enter, or have been offered entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain as a Tier 4 (General) Student in the United Kingdom, if the applicant of the Tier 4 (General) student visa is:

  • making an application for, or has been offered entry clearance or leave to remain in the UK in order to undertake a course of study at post graduate level which will last for twelve (12) months or more.
  • Under sponsorship by a Recognised Body or a body that has received funds as a higher education institution from either of the following;
    • The Higher Education Funding Council for England;
    • The Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland;
      • The Scottish Funding Council; or
      • The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales

In order to switch into a Point Based System (PBS) dependant of the Tier 4 (General) Student, you must not possess:

  • A Leave to enter or remain as a visitor; or
  • A temporary release or temporary admission.

Entry Clearance As / Switching Into Dependants of Tier 4 General Students On Doctorate Extension Scheme

An individual can be acknowledged as family member of a Tier 4 (General) applicant in a situation where the applicant is making an application to enter, or have been offered entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain as a Tier 4 (General) Student in the United Kingdom, if the applying individual is making an application for, or has been offered entry clearance or leave to remain in the UK on the Doctorate Extension Scheme.

In order to switch into a Point Based System (PBS) dependant of the Tier 4 (General) Student, you must not possess:

  • A Leave to enter or remain as a visitor; or
  • A temporary release or temporary admission.

Extension Of Stay As Dependant Of Tier 4 General Student

An individual can be acknowledged as family member of a Tier 4 (General) applicant in a situation where the applicant is making an application to enter, or have been offered entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain as a Tier 4 (General) Student in the United Kingdom, if these requirements are fulfilled:

  • that the applicant is making an application for entry clearance, leave to enter, or leave to remain in the UK in order to undertake a course of study which will last for more than six months and has either of the following:
    • an entry clearance, leave to enter, or leave to remain in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) Student so as to undertake a course of study which will last for more than six months; or
    • previously possessed an entry clearance, leave to enter, or leave to remain in the UK within the three months before the application for the Tier 4 (General) Student, in order to undertake a course of study which will last for more than six months
  • the family member of the applicant must either;
    • possess an entry clearance, leave to enter, or leave to remain in the UK as a family member of a Tier 4 (General) Student or a student granted entry clearance, leave to enter, or leave to remain in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) Student so as to undertake a course of study which will last for more than six months; or
    • previously possessed an entry clearance, leave to enter, or leave to remain in the UK within the three months before the application as family member of a tier 4 (General) Student to undertake a course of study which will last for more than six months was made.
  • The applicant of the Tier 4 (General) Student visa and the family member must make the application simultaneously.

Funds For Maintenance

The ability of the family members of the applicant of the Tier 4 (General) student visa to fend for themselves without sourcing for help from public funds is an important requirement under the Points Based System. For the individual to satisfy this requirement, he would need to make show evidence of funds that would last for at least 28 days in maintenance before the date of the application.

This fund that the family member will need to show is dependent on the circumstances of the Tier 4 General Student. These circumstances includes:

  • How long the course of study will last;
  • The place where the individual will be studying; and
  • If the individual is presently studying or have studied recently in the UK.

Either the family members or the individual will need to have sufficient funding to cover the cost of living to be incurred whilst in the UK. The family member may pay lesser for living cost in circumstances where the individual makes an application after concluding an initial course of study, or will soon finalize one in the United Kingdom which lasted for at least six months, within the last four months. In a situation where family members cannot show proof of the availability of this money, his/her application will be rejected.

The required money to be shown which includes the money for living expenses either by family member or the individual himself is elaborated below:

Place of Study Required Amount
In London The individual or each member of his family will need to make available £600 monthly for the duration of the course for up to nine months at most.
Outside London The individual or each member of his family will need to make available £450 monthly for the duration of the course for up to nine months at most.

For an individual who makes an application after concluding an initial course of study, or will soon finalize one in the United Kingdom which lasted for at least six months, within the last four months, the required money is give as thus:

Place of Study Required Amount
In London The individual or each member of his family will need to make available £600 monthly for the duration of the course for up to two months at most.
Outside London The individual or each member of his family will need to make available £450 monthly for the duration of the course for up to two months at most..

Documents that show the evidence of money available must be included with the application form of your family members as proof.

What does the child student category mean?

Children within the age of 4 to 17 years old who intend to enter the United Kingdom so as to be educated can do so by making an application for the Tier 4 (Child) category. Those children between the ages of 4 to 15 years of age must be schooled at a fee-paying school that is independent.

Children under the Tier 4 (Child) students’ category are not permitted to attend schools that are publicly funded. However only publicly funded further education colleges with the ability to charge foreign student are authorized to provide education for the Tier 4 (Child).

A child of 16 or 17 years of age who intend to study a level 3 National Qualification Framework (NQF) course or higher, he/she together with the sponsor would need to liaise in other or decide on if to make the application to the Home Office for a Tier 4 (Child) or a Tier 4 (General). It is however required that the application be for a Tier 4 (Child) student if the child intends to study a level 2 NQF course or lesser.

If you have dependant children residing with you for whom you are financially responsible, you cannot make an application for the Tier 4 (Child) student category.

As a Tier 4 Child student what courses can I study?

As a Tier 4 Child student, you can study a course that is:

  • Tutored according to the National Curriculum; or
  • Tutored according to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF); or
  • Acknowledged to be of similar educational status as the National Qualification Framework or the National Curriculum by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) in England, The Inspectorate of Education in Scotland, The Education and Training Inspectorate in Northern Ireland or The Education and Training Inspectorate (Estyn) in Wales; or
  • Tutored according to the prevailing standards of independent school inspection.

If the main course that is intended for study fulfils one of the requirements above, you can study a short course (sometimes called ‘pre-sessional’ courses) as a path of preparation for the main course.

Tier 4 Child Student

The Tier 4 (Child) student category is for children between the age of 4 and 17 years old, who intend to come to the United Kingdom for the main purpose of being educated. For children between the ages 4 and 15, they must receive their education from independent fee-paying schools.

Studying in a publicly funded school with the Tier 4 (Child) category is impossible. The Tier 4 (Child) is only permitted to study at a publicly funded Further Education College once they are aged 16 or 17 years old because of the school’s ability to charge for International Students.

A student of age 16 or 17 years who wishes to study a course that is at or is above National Qualification Framework level 3, can together with his/her sponsor agree as to whether the application should be made for the Tier 4 (Child) Student category or the Tier 4 (General) Student category. However, in a situation whereby the individual wants to study at Qualification Framework level 2 or below, he/she must then apply for the Tier 4 (Child) student category.

Making use of the online application method or the application form VAF9 is dependent on the country in which you reside. Hence, the applicant is expected to complete and submit the relevant version of Appendix 8 of the form. The date on which the individual’s application is made should not exceed 6 months of the date in which the sponsor of the individual gave the confirmation of acceptance for study to the applicant.

At the Visa application centre, the biometric data of the applicant will be captured i.e. fingerprints and facial image, as part of the application process.

You will need to select your country from the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) country finder so you can gain better information on:

  • In what way or manner should application be done in your country
  • visa application centres located in your country.
  • The length of time required for the processing of your visa application by the UKBA
  • In what way or manner your documents would be returned to you.

How long can a Tier 4 (Child) student come to the UK for?

If the Tier 4 (Child) student is less than 16 years old, he/she may receive:

      • the length of stay a Tier 4 (Child) student asks for;
      • the length of a Tier 4 (Child) student’s course; or
      • six years;

The shortest one among the three, and an additional four months after the conclusion of the course.

If the Tier 4 (Child) student is 16 or 17 years, he/she may receive:

      • the length of stay a Tier 4 (Child) student asks for;
      • the length of a Tier 4 (Child) student’s course; or
      • three years;

The shortest one among the three, and an additional four months after the conclusion of the course.

Even if the Tier 4 (Child) student becomes 18 years old during the course of study, he/she will be permitted to continue with the course of study until the elapse of the granted leave. On the other hand, if he/she wishes to continue studies in the UK, he/she will do so by making an application under another category like the Tier 4 (General).

In a situation where the Tier 4 (Child) student has an official financial sponsor that takes charge of all cost of living and fees, who limits the time the student may study in the UK; the permission granted for stay to the student will be limited to the same time as stipulated by the sponsor including the additional time granted at the end of the course.

Switching Into Tier 4 Child Student

This category (Tier 4 Child Student) is a category that is Point Based. These points are awarded for Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and Funds for Maintenance.

Switching into the Tier 4 (Child) Student Category by the Child is possible if he/she is in possession of, or previously received permission to reside in the UK as:

  • A Tier 4 (General) student
  • A Tier 4 (Child) student
  • a prospective student, or
  • as a student under the Immigration Rules in place before 31 March 2009.
Tier 4 General Student Extension Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
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Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them.

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I used Reiss Edwards’ immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them.

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It's a shame that you dont have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service.

I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice.

They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards.

Kind regards
Nancy Jacquard


 
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