How to extend your Tier 4 (General) Student Visa in the UK

If you already have a Tier 4 visa and want to extend your visa in the UK, to study at the University of Birmingham, you will need to meet all the requirements for a student visa application.

If you want to extend your visa outside the UK see the Entry Clearance page and to apply for your family, use our family pages.

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) Student 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 and ensuring you have the correct documents and enough funding in your bank account.

Please note that you are responsible for your immigration status. The International Student Team (IST) will send email updates 90 days before, 60 days before and 30 days before your current course end date and will provide you with information on the visa workshops that will help you prepare for your visa application but you are responsible for ensuring that you abide by the conditions of your visa. It is very essential that you understand these conditions and take them seriously, failure to do so could result in the loss of your visa.

You can attend the Visa workshops that IST carries out or contact the IST if you require any information on extending your visa in the UK.

How to Apply

The IST 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.

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

Making an application for a Tier 4 visa  - UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS)

There are various options to apply in the UK. Please note that these options cost different amounts:

If you want to get a decision more quickly than the standard 8 weeks, you can pay an extra:

Tier 4 Application Process

Students in the UK must submit all necessary evidence and personal information, in support of their Tier 4 visa application quickly and securely through a more streamlined digital process.  You will be led through an online application process making it clear what you need to do step by step, what supporting documents you need and where you need to go to complete your application.

You will be required to make your Tier 4 visa application online.  After payment has been made you will directed to the UKVI commercial partner, Sopra Steria website to book an appointment and attend your local UKVCAS centre (Service Point). You will have the option of either uploading copies of your supporting documents on the Sopra Steria website from the comfort of your own home/office before you attend your scheduled appointment or, you can take your evidence on the day of your appointment to be scanned and uploaded.  Please note there is an additional charge to upload your documents at your appointment. 

When and where are appointments available?

You will be able to book an appointment at one of 6 core locations in major cities during office hours on a free to use basis or take advantage of enhanced user-pay service in 50 local libraries with process starting from £60.  Appointments are available at evening, weekends and on short notice (on the day/next day) with pricing starting from £100.

All appointments must be pre-booked before you attend a Service Point. Standard free appointments and other appointment types/times; fee starts from £60 depending on location and time.

You can book an appointment:

  • Up to 28 days in advance
  • The same day
  • The next day
  • Outside of standard hours

Are there any other services available?

Sopra Steria can also provide the following additional services.  Please note there is an additional charge of any additional services you wish to use.

  • Document Checking- Service to check supporting documents are correctly uploaded. Service Price £35.
  • Interpretation- Arrange for an Interpreter over the phone for customers who require language assistance. Service Price £60.

There are also value added services provided by Sopra Steria partner BLS.

  • Document Translation- Professional Translator who translates documentation within 3-4 days. Service Price is £75 per page.
  • Premium Lounge- This is a Service for customers who desire a service with added comfort and privacy, hi speed wifi, scanning and printing. Service Price £200.
  • VIP Service- The VIP Service is a mobile service where trained team members visit customers in their home and complete the same process.  You would need to call UKVCAS to obtain a quote.
  • On Demand –Pop Up- Provides application facilities for organizations with 10 or more customers.  Prices are available on quotation.

How quickly will you obtain a UKVCAS Appointment?

You will be offered an appointment within 5 days of submitting your online Tier 4 visa application.

What happens during your UKVCAS Appointment?

At your appointment your ID will be checked and you will be able to submit your biometric information including photos, fingerprints and signatures at one single appointment. If you have not already done so; you can upload any supporting documents that you require to submit in support of your Tier 4 visa application digitally at your appointment. You will then leave the UKVCAS centre with your original documents and your passport.

IMPORTANT TRAVEL  INFORMATION

It is important to note that although you will retain your original documents and passport you will be unable to travel outside of the UK and the Common Travel Area while your visa application is in-progress, as doing so will automatically withdraw your visa application and this may affect your ability to continue your studies and/or re-enter the UK.

Your Nearest UKVCAS Centre (Service Point):

Birmingham

Ground Floor, T3, Trinity Park, Bickenhill Lane, Birmingham, B37 7ES

Coventry

Central Library, Smithford Way, Coventry CV1 1FY

What to do if you have any difficulties with this process

If you have any difficulties with this process then please log a query online by visiting www.studenthelp.bham.ac.uk

Current Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) not assigned by the University of Birmingham

The earliest you can submit your Tier 4 (General) student visa application is three months before your course start date once you receive a CAS from the University of Birmingham.

Current Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) assigned by the University of Birmingham

If you are continuing on the same course that the Tier 4 (General) Student visa was granted for, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) advise that you can apply 3 months before your current Tier 4 (General) student visa expiry date.

If you are starting a new course, you have a choice as to when you apply for your new Tier 4 (General) Student visa:

  • You can apply 3 months before the course start date OR
  • You can apply 3 months before your visa expiry date.

We would recommend that you use whichever date is sooner, so that you make a Tier 4 (General) Student visa application as early as possible.

My Tier 4 (General) Student visa has already expired

If your Tier 4 (General) Student visa has already expired you must contact the IST immediately. If you are working you must stop straight away.

Once your visa expires, you automatically become an overstayer. Please note that overstaying your visa is a criminal offence which will have serious implications for you and any visas you may apply for in the future.

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 any further visa application without first having an appointment with IST; we can advise you on your possible options and answer your questions.

Document list for Tier 4 (General) Student Visa

The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) are strict about the documents they will accept as evidence. Your documents will need to meet the UKVI requirements or your Tier 4 (General) Student visa application can be refused. It is recommended that you read the information below and prepare your documents, then allow the IST to check them for you. You can contact the IST or book an appointment on our Document checking workshop.

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:

  • 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)

All documents must be originals.

Immigration Health Surcharge

Since 6 April 2015 there has been an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) 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 £300 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 £150. 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.

5 year limit on UK study at undergraduate and Master’s 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  UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website.

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.

Low-risk countries and documents to submit

If you are from a low-risk country you should still collect all the evidence listed above. The IST will still need to check and approve all your documents before issuing you with a CAS.

The low risk countries are listed on the UKVI webpage.

If you are self-submitting a postal Tier 4 (General) Student visa application and are from a low-risk country, you have the option as to whether or not you wish to submit academic qualifications or financial evidence with your application. The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) can ask for these documents when it is processing your visa application.

If you are asked for this evidence while your application is being processed, you will be given a deadline by which to provide it. If you fail to provide the documents when they are asked for, your visa application will be refused.

If you will attend an appointment with the UKVI, you must provide all the documents.

What to keep for University registration

Visa application times in the UK can take 8-14 weeks for postal applications. If you are starting a new course, the University will need to see proof that you have made an application before you can be registered. Further details on the documents that you will need to provide in order to complete your University registration are available on the Online Registration page. It is your responsibility to provide this proof; without proof you cannot be registered.

Further information

For detailed information on immigration requirements for documents read the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Tier 4 policy guidance.

You can also contact the IST for further immigration help.