Applying for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa in the UK.

This page provides information for students who are currently in the UK and need to make a Tier 4 (General) visa application in order to extend their stay in the UK. This may be because you:

  • Need more time to continue your current course at the University of Birmingham
  • Are starting a new course, having already completed a course at the University of Birmingham
  • Are switching to a Tier 4 visa sponsored by the University of Birmingham.

If you want to extend your visa from outside the UK please visit the ISAS Entry Clearance visa pages.

This page is only for students currently within the UK and covers the following:

Can I apply in the UK? 

Eligible courses

In order to apply for a Tier 4 visa sponsored by the University of Birmingham you must be registered for a full-time course at the University of Birmingham.

Your current visa

In order to apply in the UK you must have last been granted leave as either a Tier 4 (General) Student, Tier 4 (Child) Student, Tier 1 (Post-study Work) migrant, Tier 2 Migrant, prospective student, or certain immigration categories that were in place before the introduction of the Points Based System. See UKCISA for more information.

Five-year limit on study at Undergraduate and Masters level

You must not be applying to study for longer than the maximum time limit (cap) on studying with a Tier 4 visa: this is five years on courses at degree level. The limit is extended if you completed a 4-year undergraduate degree, and there are also some exceptions

For further information on the ‘five-year cap’ please visit the UKCISA news page.

If you are unsure whether you will be affected by the five-year cap, please contact us so that we can assess your individual situation.

Academic progression 

The Home Office require Tier 4 sponsors to include a statement in a student's Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) confirming that the student will be making academic progression the course they have applied for, from any study previously undertaken in the UK. The Home Office has made changes to the academic progression rule for Tier 4 students with effect from 6 April 2016. Check the ISAS Academic progression page to see how the rule change may affect you

Can I extend my visa for graduation?

If your visa does not cover your graduation you should check the ISAS visa correction scheme page in case a mistake was made when it was issued. If a mistake was not made, or it is not possible to correct a mistake, then you will not be able to extend your student visa for the sole purpose of attending graduation.

If you want to attend your graduation and this is the only reason for the extra time in the UK, you would need to make a Visitor visa application.

When to apply

We recommend that you check whether you need ATAS clearance to study in the UK and make your application to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 6 months before your visa is due to expire.

The earliest you can submit your Tier 4 (General) visa application is 3 months before your course starts or if you are continuing on the same course, you should submit your application up to 3 months before your current visa expires. However, you can start planning straightaway: ensuring you have the correct documents and enough funding in your bank account.

You need to have your documents checked by the ISAS before your visa expiry date in order to be assigned a CAS. You cannot apply for a Tier 4 visa without a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number.  It is the University of Birmingham policy to only issue a CAS to a continuing student if the student has provided ISAS with their visa application documents, and the ISAS considers them to meet the UKVI requirements at least 10 working days before the expiry date of the current visa. 

My visa has already expired

If your visa has already expired you must contact ISAS immediately. If you are working you must stop working straight away.

ISAS will need to provide you with detailed advice specific to your situation. Please note that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) state that if you have not made a visa extension application, and apply for a new visa inside the UK 15 days or more after your visa expiry date, your visa application will automatically be refused.

Once your visa expires, you automatically become an overstayer.  

It is University policy not to assign a CAS to a student who is an overstayer. This is because as an overstayer you no longer hold a correct Tier 4 visa permitting you to undertake a course of study. 

There is no "grace period" within which you can lawfully overstay your visa. If you overstay your visa expiry date by:

  • (a) 90 days or less, where the overstaying began before 6 April 2017
  • (b) 30 days or less, where the overstaying began on or after 6 April 2017

you will be barred from coming back to the UK for at least 12 months.  This is because overstaying in the UK is a criminal offence.  Overstaying can have an adverse impact on any subsequent visa application.

Please do not submit a visa application without first having an appointment with ISAS; we can advise you on your possible options and answer your questions.

How to apply

ISAS run a series of visa extension workshops where we explain in detail how to make a visa application. We recommend that you attend one of these workshops if you are planning on extending your student visa.

Getting a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) is an electronic document issued to students who need to make a Tier 4 (General) application. Your CAS is only valid for 6 months, and you can only use it once. Your CAS number which is required on your visa application will be found on the CAS statement email you receive from the University.

New students will be sent a CAS number as part of the admissions process.

Students that need to extend their visas to continue their studies, need to request a CAS and book onto a visa document checking session at least 10 working days before your visa expires.

Making an application

There are 3 options to apply in the UK:

  • Standard service: Apply, pay the fee submit the application online, then submit your passport and other documents to the Home Office by post.
  • Premium service: Apply, book an appointment, pay the fee, submit your application online and then take your documents to an in person appointment.
  • Super Premium service (required if you have 10 dependants or more): contact the Home Office mobile coordinator to see if you are eligible and book an appointment, complete a paper application form, your application and documents will be collected by courier then premium service staff will visit you to complete your biometric information.

Using the online application form

You must apply before your current immigration permission ends. The date of your application is the day you pay for your application online.

Start by registering your details and creating an online account.  

Once you have registered you can login and start your application. You can save the application at any point and return to it later through your account. If you do not access your incomplete application within another 10 weeks, it will be deleted to protect your privacy.

Answer ‘No’ to the question ‘Are you applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme?’ in your online application

The online application form for the Tier 4 (General) student visa extension asks you if you are applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme. This is a separate scheme for students applying for further leave to remain after completion of a PhD programme, and is not for doctoral students applying for more time to finish their studies.

Further details are available on the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme page.

Documents you need for your application

UKVI are strict about the documents they will accept as evidence. Your documents will need to meet the UKVI requirements or your application can be refused.

We have listed the main types of document that you will need. There may be others, so check the UKVI webpages to ensure you have all of the documents needed to make your application. Please check that you have the following original documents:

  • Proof that you have the amount of money required by UKVI for your application (see money requirements)
  • ATAS, if you need it (find out if you need ATAS)
  • CAS number from the University of Birmingham (get a CAS number)
  • Academic qualifications if listed on the CAS
  • Translations of any documents that are not in English (see translation requirements)
  • 2 passport-sized photographs, which must meet the Home Office photo guidance
  • Your current passport
  • Any other passports or visas that you have used to come to the UK in the past
  • Your Biometric Residence Permit (if applicable)
  • Police registration certificate (if applicable)

All documents must be originals.

'Low risk' nationals

Some nationalities do not have to submit evidence of their money or their qualifications with their Tier 4 application, however these ‘low risk’ nationals may be asked to provide it at a later stage during the application process, and risk refusal if it cannot be provided. For this reason, the ISAS require that all students including ‘low risk’ nationals must prepare the evidence and provide it at a document checking session.

Immigration Health Surcharge

From 6 April 2015 there is an Immigration Health Surcharge to pay if you are applying to extend your Tier 4 leave in the UK.  This charge must be paid even if you have your own private medical insurance, and your visa application will not be granted unless you have paid the surcharge.

How much is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

The surcharge is calculated at £150 per year for each year of leave that you are applying for. If the leave includes a period of less than 6 months, the part year is charged at £75.  Please note that the charge is calculated on the basis of the total length of leave granted, so any additional time before or after your course will be taken into account.  

You can check the amount you need to pay before you apply.

How to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge

You will be directed to make payment for the IHS  as part of your Tier 4 online application. Once you have made payment, an IHS reference number will automatically be inserted into your visa application. You will need an IHS reference number even if you are exempt from paying the healthcare surcharge.

Applications for family members

For information about your family’s immigration please visit our family immigration page.

Further information

This page has basic information on applying for a student visa. For detailed information on immigration requirements, you should always read the UKVI Tier 4 policy guidance. You can find more detailed information on the UKCISA guide for student visas.

If your question is not covered above, you can also contact ISAS online.