Tier 4 (Student) Visas: An Overview

What is the Tier 4 visa?

The Tier 4 visa is a category designed for non-EEA nationals coming to study in the UK. If you are an EEA (European Economic Area) national then you do not need a visa to study in the UK, but those from other countries need to apply for a Tier 4 visa in order study here.

Tier 4 General visas are granted to those applicants over the age of 18, and for those under 18 a Tier 4 Child visa is appropriate.

Since the UK has some of the highest ranked universities worldwide it is an extremely popular destination for students from all across the globe.

How do you qualify for Tier 4?

To be eligible for a Tier 4 (General) Student visa applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS): Applicants must have been accepted on to a course in the UK with an unconditional offer and have been provided with a CAS from their educational provider. The educational provider must be licensed to sponsor migrants under Tier 4: check the current list of institutions on the official gov.uk register.
  • Please note that the CAS is not an actual paper document, rather an electronic record on a database. Each CAS has a unique reference number and contains information about the course of study for which it has been issued, as well as the student's personal details. Once a CAS has been issued, the visa application must be made within 6 months.
  • Maintenance: Applicants must evidence that they can financially support yourself whilst studying. In most cases they will need to show that they have sufficient funds to pay the full course fees for the first academic year as well as adequate maintenance for the duration of the course (up to a maximum of 9 months). The Home Office set this amount at £1265 per month if studying in London (City of London and the Former Metropolitan Police District) or £1015 per month if studying outside London.
  • Knowledge of English Language: Before being assigned a CAS, applicants will need to prove adequate knowledge of the English Language, this must be appropriate for the level of course they wish to undertake. The evidence used when applying for the CAS must also be provided as part of the visa application.
  • Genuine Student Test: Some applicants are asked to undertake an interview, either on the phone or in person, to prove they are a genuine student and that they can speak English to the required standard.

How long is Tier 4 granted for?

The Tier 4 (General) Student visa is usually granted for the duration of the applicant’s course plus an additional four months following the end date.

If a Tier 4 visa holder wishes to undertake further studies after completing one course it is possible to extend the Tier 4 visa. It is also possible to switch into other categories such as Tier 2 General if the applicant has been offered employment in the UK. A further option is to move into Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur if an applicant wishes to establish a business within the UK.

What restrictions are there?

Tier 4 visa holders studying at degree level or above are permitted to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and up to full time during holidays. Tier 4 holders are also permitted to undertake work placements as part of their course in certain circumstances. They are not however allowed to be self-employed or engage in business activities.

There is a general limit of 5 years within this category when studying at or above degree level unless studies are being undertaken in one of the following fields:

  • Architecture
  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Veterinary Medicine & Science
  • Music at a music college that is a member of Conservatoires UK (CUK)
  • Certain Law courses

Please note that the 5-year limit doesn’t apply to PhD students.

Can you include family members in Tier 4?

Those studying at Postgraduate Level (above Level 7 on the Ofqual register) or government sponsored students on a course that will last for at least 6 months are able to include partners and children aged under 18 on this visa.

These family members will be granted the same length of time as the main applicant, and will be able to work or establish businesses in the UK.

Does this visa lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

Time spent on Tier 4 visas does not lead directly to ILR, however time spent in this category can be included when making an application for ILR through Long Residence (10 year route).

How can we help?

Here at White Rose Visas we would be delighted to assist with plans for coming to the UK in order to study, as well as renewing or extending Tier 4 visas. Our advisers will use their expert knowledge and extensive experience to ensure that your application is successful. Do get in touch for a free, no-obligation discussion.

Our fully inclusive service includes a complete document check, filling out all application forms required, advising on all aspects of the application and no limit to the amount of time that can be spent on your case. As part of our Tier 4 service we will fully check the CAS to ensure there have been no errors which could lead to a refusal.

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