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Tier 4 - International Students

Tier 4 (Students)

This category includes two sub-categories:

General Student – for those who are coming to the United Kingdom for the post-16 education;
Child Student – for children between 4 and 17 years old coming to the UK for their education to study at independent schools.
Students of 16 or 17 years old should agree with the chosen educational establishment either to apply for General Student or Child Student visa. It depends on the course level. If the course is considered as NQF Level 3 or above, the educational provider should advise a student on the applicable sub-category. Those studying for an English language qualification at CEFR Level A2 or above must apply as a General Student.
Educational provider means any educational establishment in the UK that is approved by UKBA and has been given a licence to bring overseas students to the United Kingdom under Tier 4 of PBS.

Scoring Sections - Attributes

The applicant should successfully claim 40 points in total i.e.:

30 points – for being accepted at a course (at an acceptable level) by an approved education provider (also known as sponsor). Your approved education provider will give you a visa letter which is an official and unconditional offer of a place on a course of study.

10 points – 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 28 days. The end of that 28 day period must not be more than one month before the date of your application.

Visa Letter

Your approved education provider will give you a visa letter which is an official and unconditional offer of a place on a course of study.

The visa letter must be issued no more than six months before you apply. The applications where the visa letters are older than six months will be refused.

Having a visa letter does not guarantee the application will be successful. The applicant must meet all the requirements of the category and any other requirements of the immigration rules.

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. The amount you will need depends on whether you are applying as a child or adult and also whether you will be studying in or out of London.

You must show that you have held the money for at least 28 days. The end of that 28 day period must not be more than one month before the date of your application.

Transitional arrangements will apply for those who apply for Tier 4 visa before 1 June 2009. The applicant will only need to show proof of availability of the required funds on the day of application.

If you are using overseas currency, you must clearly mention the exchange rate applied 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 London boroughs: 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 visa letter will be used as proof of your main study site.

You must show the following amount of money to meet basic living costs (not including fees):

£800 per month if you are living in London;
£600 per month if you are living outside London.
You can prove you have the money if you have:

cash in an account in your name (this includes joint accounts with your name); or
a loan in your name; or
official financial or government sponsorship.
Child students can use an account in their parent or legal guardian’s name.

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 need to show. For accommodation, this only applies if you are staying in university or college arranged accommodation.


Any partners or children who want to come to the United Kingdom with you must also have documentary proof that they have enough money to support themselves.

Child students are not allowed to bring partners to the United Kingdom with them as dependants. Anyone who has any children under the age of 18 who are living with them or who they are financially responsible for, is not able to come to the United Kingdom as a child student.

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.

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. You do not need permission from UKBA 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 permission to stay for.

Switching Rules

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

skilled worker (Tier 2 General)
intra-company transfer (Tier 2)
minister of religion (Tier 2)
child student (Tier 4)
prospective 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.

You may need a lower amount of money for your living costs. 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.

This applies if you have undertaken a course of study in the United Kingdom in the last four months before you apply, and the course of study was six months or more, and you wish to apply for a further course of study or to complete an existing course of study.

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 included with your reasons for refusal letter.

It is strongly advised to take independent professional assistance to lodge an appeal against the decision of the UKBA.

Administrative Review (Entry clearance applications only)

If the entry clearance application is refused by the ECO in the British Diplomatic post, the applicant will be given a right of making a request for a review of the decision that must 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 provide / submit any fresh documentary evidences with the review request.

1. Pre Requisites

In order to apply for a student visa, one has to take an admission in a diploma / degree / post graduation course in a recognized college or University of the UK who provides all the relevant documents to support student visa application.

2. Who Can Qualify?

Any person can apply for a student visa who has got an unconditional offer of a place in a diploma / degree / post graduation course in a recognized college or University of the UK. He needs to establish a link between his existing studies / work experience with the diploma / degree / post graduation course to be taken in the UK.

3. What Documents to Submit?

The persons intending to apply for a student visa need to provide following documents with their entry clearance application.

  • Entry Clearance Form
  • Two Passport size Pictures
  • Original Passport
  • Visa Fees (If applicable)
  • Copies of the Educational / Work experience Documents
  • Unconditional Offer of a place in the College / University
  • Proof of payment of partial / full fees of the course (if available)
  • Bank statements / Proof of income
  • Affidavit of support from the Sponsor (If sponsored by another person)

It is also advisable to provide any proof of family, social and financial ties with the home country that may be:

  • Property Documents
  • Business Documents
  • Family tree
  • Any memberships of professional bodies

4. Duration of Visa

The applicants are normally issued a visa for the complete duration of course; however the students can always apply for an extension of visa while remaining within the UK, if it is not the case.

5. Right of Appeal

If the British Diplomatic Post refuses the entry clearance application of a student, the applicant has got a right of appeal that need to be lodged within 28 days of the receipt of refusal letter. The Entry clearance manager normally reviews the decision in the light of the grounds of appeal and may overturn the decision and decide to issue the visa. If the decision is not overturned in the review then the case is sent to the Asylum & Immigration Tribunal in the UK for a full Court Hearing.

6. Work Allowed

Students having leave to remain for more than 6 months are allowed to work part time (20 Hours a week) during the duration of their course. They can also work for more than 20 hours per week during term time unless the student`s placement is part of the studies, has been agreed with your education institution and leads to a degree or qualification awarded by a nationally recognised examining body.

7. What is not allowed?

Students are not normally allowed to engage themselves in Business or self-employment without seeking permission from the Home Office. They cannot legally become a partner / sole proprietor / Director in a business. They are also not allowed to work as a Professional entertainer / sportsperson or to take a full time permanent employment without seeking permission from the Home Office.

8. Change of Courses / Institutions

A student can always change the course or educational institution for which they have been issued the visa, without seeking prior permission from the Home Office.

9. Extension of Visa

Students can always apply for an extension of visa while remaining within the UK; they need to show any progress of studies undertaken till that time and evidence of availability of finances to support their studies. The maximum period of time that a student can stay in the UK on short courses one after the other, below degree level, is two years.

A person seeking to take a short term course would be given max. six months visa and he would be requried to leave the UK at the end of that visa. If he wishes to seek part-time employment or extend their stay in the UK will require prior entry clearance as a student. Any period as a student visitor will be counted as a period spent as a visitor.

10. Spouse / Children

Students can always invite their spouse / children to join them as their dependants during the time of their course provided they could support their families without recourse to public funds and their leave to remain is for more than 6 months. The spouse will be allowed to work if the student is given leave to enter / remain in the UK for 12 months or more.

11. Switching Rules

Since 01st of October 2004, there have been some major changes in the switching rules. Now students need to obtain a degree from a recognized University to switch into most of the immigration categories while remaining within the UK, however there are some categories where a student can switch into without completing his degree in the UK.

Following are the Immigration Categories where a student can switch without obtaining a degree:

  • Spouse Visa (Provided the applicant has been issued a student visa for more than 6 months initially and he has got more than 3 months of his current leave to remain).
  • Religious Minister (provided they have lived as a student for 12 months and fulfil all the requirements to apply as a Religious Minister.

Following are the Immigration Categories where only those students who have successfully graduated from an educational institution in the UK, can switch into while remaining within the UK:

  • WP ( Business & Commercial)
  • HSMP
  • Science & Engineering Graduate Scheme
  • Business Person
  • InnovatorFresh Talent Working in Scotland Scheme (Provided the applicant has completed his HND, Graduation, Masters or PHD in Scotland and lived for a considerable amount of time period and qualifies for this scheme)

12. Settlement Prospects

There is only one option available for students to get permanent settlement in the UK i.e. Long-term residence. If a student remains in the UK for ten years then he can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. But if the student switches his immigration category then he would have another option to get an Indefinite Leave to remain on the basis of that immigration category.

For example if after remaining student for two years he changes his immigration status to HSMP, which allows a person to apply for an Indefinite Leave to remain after remaining for five years in the UK. So, in this case that person can apply for an indefinite leave to remain after a total of seven years of living in the UK, although he would still have a right to apply for Indefinite leave to remain after 10 years of continuous residence in the UK.