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 Advisory Service (ISAS) 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 attend the Visa workshops that ISAS carries out or contact the ISAS if you require any information on extending your visa in the UK.

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.

You need to have your documents checked by ISAS 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 ISAS with their visa application documents, and ISAS 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 visa

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

  • Standard service: Apply, pay the fee, submit the application online, then submit your passport and other documents to the Home Office by post. You should receive a decision within 8 weeks.
  • Priority Service: Apply, pay the fee, submit the application online, then submit your passport and other documents to the Home Office by post. You should receive a decision within 10 working days.
  • Premium service: Apply, book an appointment, pay the fee, submit your application online and then take your documents to an in person appointment. You should receive a decision the same day your application is made.
  • 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. You will usually get a decision within 24 hours.

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.

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.

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 ISAS 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 ISAS; 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 ISAS to check them for you. You can contact ISAS 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:

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 £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.

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. ISAS 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 information on the visa process and how to complete the visa form see the following guide. For detailed information on immigration requirements for documents read the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Tier 4 policy guidance.

You can also contact ISAS for further immigration help.