The Tier 4 Student Visa has two sub-categories:

  • Tier 4 General Student – people coming to the United Kingdom for education;
  • Tier 4 Child Student – for applicant between 4 and 17 years old coming to the UK for their education to study at independent institution.

Students between the age of 16 or 17 years old can agree with chosen educational establishment either to apply for Tier 4 General Student or Tier 4 Child Student visa. It depends on the level of course. If the course is considered as NQF Level 3 or above, the educational provider should advise a student on the available sub-category.

Educational provider

Is any educational establishment in the UK that is approved by UKBA and has been given a sponsorship licence to bring overseas students to the United Kingdom under Tier 4 category. There is a ‘genuiness’ test, for Tier 4 categories where the Home Office will check that whether the applicants are genuine and intend to meet the conditions of their visa.

Claiming points (Total required 40 points) 30 points:

will be awarded for having a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This is issued by the education provider. The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) has a unique reference number electronically issued by a education provider.

10 points – will be awarded for having for having enough money to cover your course fees and monthly living costs (also known as maintenance or funds). You must show that you have held the money for at least a consecutive 28 day period. The end of that 28 day period must not be more than one month before the date of application.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

The approved education provider will provide a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) which is an official and unconditional offer of a place on a course of study in the UK. After the CAS is issued you must apply before it expires. Having a CAS does not guarantee the application will be successful and the applicant must meet all the requirements of the immigration rules relevant to Tier 4 category.

Maintenance or Funds

The money you need to show covers your course fees for your first year of study and living costs for up to a maximum of nine months in the UK. The amount you will need depends on whether you are applying as a child or adult and also whether you will be studying inside or out of London. You must show that you have held the required amount of money every day for at least 28 days, which must not be more than 31 days before the date of your application.  There is a declaration on the visa application form requiring students to declare they hold and will continue to hold the required maintenance funds to cover their course fees and living costs in the UK, and that these funds will remain available to them to support themselves in the UK while they study and to pay for their course in the UK.

If you are using overseas currency, you must clearly mention the exchange rate on the date you apply and money in GBP. Your study is in London if the majority of your study (more than 50% of your study time) will be in any of the following boroughs in London: Camden, City of London, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster. If you are not studying in any of these boroughs, you will be considered as studying outside London. The address given in your CAS will be used as proof of your main study site. You must show the amount of money to meet basic living costs (which does not include fees):

  • £1000 (£1020 from 01 July 2014) per month if you are admitted to ;
  • £800 (£820 from 01 July 2014) per month if you are living outside London.

You can prove you have the money if you have:

  • cash in any account in your name (this includes any joint accounts with your name); or
  • a loan in your name; or
  • Official financial or government sponsorship.
  • Money in your parents or legal guardian’s account provided that they are willing to give a confirmation letter.

If you have already paid some of your fees or accommodation before applying for your visa, this amount will be taken away from the total amount of money you are required to show. However, the amount taken away cannot exceed a maximum of £1,000 (£1020 from 01 July 2014) for 9 months, even if you have paid more in advance for accommodation. This only applies if you are staying in university or college arranged accommodations.

English language

In general, where the course is below degree/foundation degree level or below NQF/QCF level 6 (and where the student is not from one of the English-speaking countries listed in the Immigration Rules at Appendix A) a student will need to show a knowledge of English language equivalent to level B1, or above, of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for Language Learning (unless coming to study English, in which case the course must be at level B2, unless the CAS was assigned before 23rd July, 2010, where the course level need only be A2).

Applicants coming to study at degree level, foundation degree level or NQF/QCF level 6 or above will need to show a knowledge of English language equivalent to level B2, or above, of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for Language Learning.  Students studying at Higher Education Institute (HEI), the Institute can decide how it assesses the student’s English language ability and vouch that the student has attained the necessary English level – a Secure English Language Test (SELT) certificate need not be supplied.


Only those students studying at postgraduate level at HEIs on courses lasting more than 12 months, or more than 6 months for government-sponsored students studying at any level will be permitted to bring dependants with them. Those dependants already in the UK before 4th July 2011 with leave in line are allowed to stay until the end of their leave to remain.  Dependants with existing leave granted before 4th July 2011 wishing to extend their stay will be able to do so subject to existing restrictions, provided they apply at the same time as the Tier 4 (General) Student applies to continue their studies, and within three months of expiry of their existing leave granted. Dependants will now be able to apply from within the UK for initial leave as a PBS dependant, unless they are not here illegally, as visitors, or on temporary admission or release.

Right to Work for Dependants

If the main applicant’s grant of leave is for less than 12 months, the dependants will not be allowed to work in Great Britain, unless the main applicant is sponsored by Government funding. If the main applicant’s grant of leave is for a course of study below degree level, the dependants will not be allowed to work in Great Britain, unless the main applicant is sponsored by Government funding.

Additional documents and proof for students under 18 years old

All students under 18 years old will need to get their parent(s) or legal guardian’s written consent to the care arrangements for their travel to, reception and care while in the United Kingdom, before permission to enter or stay will be given to them.

Extra studies

As a child or adult student, you are allowed to do extra courses, for example, evening courses or other course relevant or irrelevant to your main course of studies in the UK. You do not need permission from Home Office to do extra studies, and you do not need to tell your approved education provider but you must make sure that the extra course does not get in the way of the course that you have been granted stay for .


Only those students at studying at higher education institutions (HEIs) and publicly funded further education colleges will be allowed to work while in the UK.

What is a higher education institution (HEI)?

An HEI is a recognised body, or a body in receipt of public funding as an HEI from the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales or the Scottish Funding Council in the UK. This is essentially Recognised Bodies, University Colleges and small number of other institutions. Institutions, including further education colleges, which receive some public funding to deliver higher education courses are not included within this definition of an HEI. Recognised bodies are all those institutions or bodies, including universities, which have power to award their own UK degree.

How many hours can a student work?

Those studying at an HEI at degree level can work no more than 20 hours per week during term time and any hours during their holidays. They are not allowed to fill a full-time permanent vacancy unless they have completed their UK Degree and switch to Tier 2 Category. Those studying at an HEI below degree level are not allowed to work more than 10 hours per week during term time and any hours during holidays. They must not fill a full-time permanent vacancy in the UK and are not allowed to switch to Tier 2 category. Those studying at any academic level at a publicly funded further education college can work no more than 10 hours per week during term time and can work any hours during holidays. They must not fill a full-time permanent vacancy in the UK. All other students, i.e. those at privately funded colleges, are not permitted to work while they are in the UK.

Switching Rules

You can switch in to the adult student category if you have, or were last given, permission to stay in the UK under one of the following categories:

  • Tier 4 (General) student
  • Tier 4 (Child) student
  • Tier 2 Migrant
  • Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) migrant
  • prospective student
  • student
  • student re-sitting an examination
  • student nurses
  • students writing up a thesis
  • Student Union sabbatical officer
  • Work Permit holder
  • a postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • participant in the SEGS
  • participant in the IGS
  • participant in the FT: WISS

Extension of staying

You can apply to extend your permission to stay while you are in the United Kingdom, or you can apply to extend your permission from outside the United Kingdom if you want. You may need a lower amount of money for your living costs if you have established presence in the UK. The money you need to apply for a further course of study or to complete an existing course of study will depend on the length of your course and where you will study that is in London or outside London.  If you have an ‘established presence’ you will have to show only two months’ maintenance funds (instead of nine months). You have an established presence if, at the date of application, you have current leave and you have finished within your last period of leave a course of study in the United Kingdom of at least six months, or you are applying for continued study on a single course where you have already completed at least six months of study. Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) If you are currently a PHD student with a Tier 4 sponsor that is a UK Higher Education Authority then you can now apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme to stay in the UK for 12 months after your course has finished. The Scheme allows you to work and gain further experience in your chosen field, seek skilled work or make plans to become an entrepreneur in the UK. Requirements of the DES;

  • you must have permission to stay as a Tier 4 (General) student to study a course that leads to the award of a PhD qualification ;
  • you must be studying with a Tier 4 sponsor that is a UK HEI; and
  • you must not yet have completed your course; and
  • you must  have a CAS from your Tier 4 sponsor confirming that they expect you to complete your course on the stated expected course end date and that they will sponsor you during the 12 months you are on the scheme; and
  • you must be applying no more than 60 days before the expected course end date specified on your new CAS.

The DES is a sponsored scheme which essentially means that your Tier 4 sponsor must agree to sponsor you while you are on the scheme at a recognised institution. This includes maintaining contact with you, there must be at least two contact points while you are on this scheme. If you miss these without reasonable explanation then your sponsor will be able to withdraw their sponsorship and inform the Home Office. Your Tier 4 sponsor will also have to inform the Home Office if you finish your course without completing your PHD or if you are awarded a lower qualification instead. Student Update – New route for talented MBA graduates! If you are a talented MBA graduate from a UK Higher Education Institution (HEI) then you may be able to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa as the Home office has created 1,000 places for talented MBA graduates starting from 6 April 2013. There are also 900 places for graduates in any subject from UK HEIs and 100 places for those applying under the UK Trade and Investment’s elite global graduate entrepreneur scheme in the UK. If you are interested in applying under this route then you can find further detailed information by calling our team of experts on 0203 627 4777. Appeals (In country Applications only) If your application for permission to stay is refused, you may be able to appeal. Details on how and if you can appeal will be stated with your reasons for refusal letter. It is strongly advised to take professional assistance in order to lodge an appeal against the decision of the Home Office. Administrative Review (Entry clearance applications only) If the entry clearance application is refused by the Entry Clearance Officer in the British Diplomatic post, the applicant is given a right of making a request in order to get the decision reviewed, which should be exercised within 28 days of the date of service of decision. The applicant will only be able to rely on the information / documents already submitted with the application and will not be allowed to submit any additional documentary evidences to the ones already submitted when requesting review for decision made. It is strongly advised to take professional help while making grounds for making review request to the ECO.