UK Tier 4 Visa: The UK Student Visa Process

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uk tier 4 visaA UK Tier 4 visa is granted to students who wish to pursue full-time courses in universities located in the UK. The UK Tier 4 visa is a term which is used to refer to a general student visa. Students who wish to study in the UK have to apply for their student visas at least three months before their course start date. Before applying for a UK tier 4 visa, applicants must be aware of points such as the UK student visa eligibility, The UK tier 4 visa checklist for documents, the financial requirements for a typical UK student visa, etc. 

All of the above information will be discussed in detail in today’s article. Having a thorough knowledge of the UK student visa process comes in really handy, especially to those who plan on borrowing education loans to fund their higher studies in the UK. It will help you strategize your funding method in a precise and systematic manner.

The UK Tier 4 Visa Process: An Overview

The UK Tier 4 visa is a student visa which enables all international students aged 16 and above to study in UK and if their course further permits them to work, it can also be used to extend their stay beyond the course period. Applicants who meet the following criteria are deemed eligible to apply for a UK student visa. 

  1. Those who have been offered a place on a course.
  2. Those who can speak, read, write and understand English language.
  3. Who have enough money to support their course as well as their living expenses for the duration of their stay in the UK
  4. Those who are from a country which is not part of the EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland.

The UK Tier 4 visa enables students to:

  1. Study and work as a student union sabbatical officer.
  2. Apply from inside or outside the UK
  3. Apply for an extension of their stay in the UK
  4. Work in most jobs ( this is highly dependent on the level of a candidate’s course and the nature of their sponsorship)

When applicants are staying in the UK with the help of a UK Tier 4 visa, they will not be allowed to:

  1. Get public funds
  2. Work in certain jobs
  3. Study at an academy or a local authority-funded school

Those who are currently living in the UK on a student visa may also be allowed to bring their dependents under certain conditions. These conditions are mentioned in the UK immigration department’s website.

UK Tier 4 Visa Eligibility

All applicants applying for a student visa to study in UK need to fulfill certain conditions in order to be deemed eligible for the UK Tier 4 Visa. Since this visa is primarily meant for students who have applied for higher studies at various educational institutions in the UK, the basic eligibility criteria for applicants is to secure an admission with one of these institutions and then begin their visa application process.

Students need to meet the following UK Tier 4 Visa eligibility criteria to be able to apply:

  1. Applicants should have secured an unconditional offer from any of the licensed Tier 4 sponsor.
  2. Applicants must possess sufficient funds to support their higher education expenses, as well as other miscellaneous expenses that will enable them to support their stay in UK.

Students also need to abide by certain additional guidelines regarding the nature of their course in the UK. Students can do a course which is one of the following:

  1. A full-time course which is leading to level 6 on the OfQual register.
  2. A part-time course which is at least level 7 of the OfQual register.
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. a recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist
  6. an English language course at level B2 or above.

Above everything else, students who are applying for a UK Tier 4 visa are required to possess the CAS number at the time of applying. The details of this particular component of the UK student visa process are explained in the following paragraph.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

The CAS is a compulsory requirement for a UK Tier 4 visa. The CAS is a unique number allotted by a student’s immigration sponsor in the UK (in this case the sponsor will be the university in which the student wishes to pursue their higher studies). The CAS number is a requirement to qualify for a tier 4 UK visa process. Students may be required by their respective universities to pay a certain token amount in order to receive their CAS certificate.This certificate is generally issued by universities 4 months prior to the start of the course.

CAS Eligibility Criteria

Students are eligible to receive a CAS number if they meet the following requirements.

  1. Their course is at a higher academic level than their previous course
  2. Their course is at the same level and related to their previous course or career aspirations – it must be degree level or above at a Higher Education Institution (HEI)
  3. It is intercalated to a medicine, dentistry or medical science course you started studying under a Tier 4 (General) student visa

CAS Validity

A valid CAS is one where all the following apply: 

  1. The details in the CAS match those mentioned in the student’s passport.
  2. The CAS was assigned to the students not more than six months before their date of application for a UK Tier 4 visa.
  3. It has not been cancelled by the sponsor or by the UK immigration authorities.
  4. While submitting their application for a UK Tier 4 visa, students need to keep in mind that their CAS number should be valid. For this very reason, it is important to apply for a UK student visa within six months of receiving the CAS number from sponsors. This number will expire if it is not used within six months of issuing.
  5. A CAS can only be used once in the UK visa process. If the student visa was denied due to any reason, applicants will be required to apply for a fresh CAS number from their sponsors.
  6. Having a valid CAS number does not guarantee the successful completion of the UK student visa process. Applicants are required to meet all UK visa eligibility requirements before they are deemed eligible for the same.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Certificate

  1. Students who plan on pursuing postgraduate courses in certain fields only need an ATAS certificate in order to be eligible to apply for a UK Student visa.
  2. An ATAS certificate is valid for six months from the date of issue. This leaves aspiring candidates with sufficient time for their visa process. The UK government recommends students to apply for this certificate at least 9 months prior to the start of their visa process.
  3. You can check whether your course requires you to submit an ATAS certificate for your course, here.

UK Tier 4 visa financial requirements

The overall cost of a UK student visa process is 348 pounds if students are applying from outside the UK. The UK Tier 4 visa financial requirements also state that applicants are required to pay a healthcare surcharge in addition to the overall processing fee. Applicants may fulfil this Tier 4 visa financial requirement at the time of submitting their application form online.

Although the UK government does not ask higher education aspirants to submit a proof of funds, a CAS/ATAS certificate is mandatory for a UK student visa.

One of the very first actions that students need to take, as soon as they receive their university admits, is to request for a CAS certificate from their respective university. In order to obtain this certificate, students are supposed to deposit a certain amount as token money.

This token money amount varies from one university to the other. If you feel that the token money quoted by your university is too high and that you may need to include this as an expense in your education loan application, then you need to cater to the time (1 month prior to your visa process) required to obtain the CAS certificate from your respective university and then apply for a UK education loan.

Here’s a little information on the side for you. The UK government has made a list of 23 universities which do not need students to provide proof of funds. Before applying for a UK education loan, it is recommended that you check this list.

Why applying for a UK Tier 4 visa, applicants to whom the following situations are suitable are required to submit the respective proof of funds.

  1. If you have already started your course and you are applying for further leave to continue that course, you must show that you have enough money to pay for your course fees to the end of the current academic year; or for the next academic year if you will continue on your course at the start of the next academic year. 
  2. If you are in the UK as part of a study abroad programme you must show that you have enough money to pay for any fees you are required to pay to your Tier 4 sponsor for the first year of your course or for the entire course, if it is less than a year long. 
  3. If you are continuing on an existing course and are applying for an extension to continue to study the course, your Tier 4 sponsor must confirm either of the following: 
  • the fees you still need to pay as stated on your CAS – if you are part way through the year; 
  • the fees that you need to pay for the next academic year of your course, if you will continue the course at the start of the next academic year. 
  1. Your Tier 4 sponsor will provide the embassy with details of the cost of the course fees once the CAS has been issued. If you do not know what these fees are, you will need to check this with your Tier 4 sponsor. 
  2.  If you have no fees to pay to your Tier 4 sponsor, your CAS must confirm that there are no fees due (for example, if these have been paid to an overseas Higher Education provider).

Documents required for UK student visa from india

The following is a list of documents required by the embassy if you are applying for a UK student visa from India.

  1. Current passport or other valid travel documentation
  2. The required proof of funds showing the presence of money which is required by students to meet their expenses during their study in UK.
  3. Tuberculosis test results 

The above list of documents forms the basic framework for the set of valid documentation required by the embassy or consulate from students who are applying for a UK tier 4 visa to study in the UK. Additional documents may be required from applicants depending on their circumstances.

Steps to Apply For a Student Visa for UK

  1. You must apply online for a Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  2. You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of your application.
  3. You’ll have to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when you said you’d arrive in the UK (even if you actually arrive at a later date).

The UK student visa processing time can take anywhere from 15 days to 20 days, depending on the visa application centre. Generally, the UK student visa processing time should not exceed the above-mentioned timeline.

This point marks the conclusion of the UK student visa application process. Do keep reading our blog to get regular updates on all of the future articles.

Note: WeMakeScholars is an organization funded and supported by the Government of India that focuses on International Education finance. We are associated with 10+ public/Pvt banks/ NBFCs in India and help you get the best abroad education loan matching your profile. As this initiative is under the Digital India campaign, it’s free of cost. The organization has vast experience dealing with students going to various abroad education destinations like the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Italy, China, France among others

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