By Paulina Guerrero Gutiérrez
KCL Mexican Society Media officer 2017-18; President 2014-17
This post is a basic guide to getting your Tier 4 visa. Note we are ONLY focusing on people coming for university courses and postgraduate degrees. If you are looking for a Tier 4 for a child, for Eglish studies, or for high school, read the complete guidance. For our Spanish speakers, at the end of the post, you can see a presentation with all the information in Spanish, with some examples specific for Mexican students. We have separate posts about the money and using bank letters for the visa. There is also many of our FAQ dedicated to visa questions, so please read those before posting a comment.
- Students in programs that last more than 6 months
- Students in programs shorter than 6 months who want to work
- Students that have finished their course but have been elected as sabbatical student officers
- PhD students that have finished their course and want to work 1 year in the UK under the Doctoral Extension Scheme
- Dependants of the above
Who isn't it for?
- People with European citizenship, including dual nationals
- People in research stays that are shorter than 6 months and are not planning on working (get a Short-term study visa)
- Visiting academics who are being paid in their home institutions (get the standard visitor visa - Academic visitor)
- Visiting academics who are being paid in the UK (get a Tier 5, or exceptionally, a Tier 2)
How does it work?
It is a points-based system. You need 40 points in total.
- 30 points for being an authentic student
- 10 points for having enough money
Here is a short introductury video from the UKVI to show you how it works.
Being an Authentic Student (first 30 points)
You need the following documents (original + photocopy) to prove this:
- CAS: Certificate of Acceptance of Studies. This is a document given to you by your university.
- Documents that you sent the university when you applied, including:
- Diploma from previous degree
- Official translations of those documents. These documents must include a confirmation that the translation is accurate, the date, the contact details of the translator and their company, and their signature.
- Proof of English language. This can be:
- IELTS (Academic) for UKVI. (If you presented the TOEFL, confirm with your university that you do not need to present the IELTS. The TOEFL is not valid for visa purposes, but universities can evaluate your English language skills independently, so this might suffice. It varies from uni to uni, though).
- Diploma from a degree taught in the UK
- Diploma from a degree taught in an English speaking country and certificate from NARIC specifying it is equivalent to one taught in the UK.
- ATAS (if the degree requires it)
The CAS is probably the most important of your documents. Your university will obtain one for you when they admit you. It should take about 5 working days. Modifying it only takes 1 working day, so if your uni is taking ages, call them and request for them to be more efficient. It is very important that the data in the CAS coincides with your documents, so check it carefully and request any ammendments that you consier necessary. You can also request for the CAS to include any payments you've already made to the university, or any applicable discounts in tuition fies. Note that having two active CAS can get you a rejection. A CAS lasts 6 months, and can be used for one application only. If you take longer than that to request your visa or if you were rejected and need to apply again, you need a new CAS.
Your ATAS is basically a certificate that says you are not a terrorist. It is only needed for programs that might teach you how to kill people. You can read our full guide to get it here.
Financial Requirement (other 10 points)
You need to be able to prove the following sum of money:
- First year of tuition fees in full
- Living costs for up to 9 months. Currently, the sum required per month for this is:
- Out of London £1,015 + £680 (per dependant)
- London: £1,265 (student) + £845 (per dependant)
Ways of proving that you have this money:
- Letter from an official financial sponsor (e.g. CONACYT), on headed paper, stamped, including your name, the name and details of your financial sponsor, date, duration, and how much they're paying you. (Including your university and program is recommended but not required)
- Money you've already paid to your university and is included in the CAS. If you've paid all of part of your tuition fees, that's it. However, no matter how much you have already paid to your uni for accomodation, you can only use a maximum of £1,265 for living costs.
- Bank statements from your accounts.
- Bank staments from your parent or legal guardian's accoun (no other relatives or friends)
- Copy of their passport and your translated birth certificate, as well as a letter with all their details confirming they give you persmission to use their money.
- Letter from your bank (check our post here)
- Confrirmation of a student loan (e.g. FIDERH)
The 28-day rule:
- Original bank statements or letters. If not original, they need to be stamped (and preferably signed) on every page.
- YOU CANNOT USE INVESTMENT ACCOUNTS that give you access to the money every certain period. The money needs to be in a current account, available anytime.
- The money needs to be all together, without going down from the amount you need to prove at any point, for 28 days. Note this refers to the balance AT ANY POINT during that period, not to your average balance. If it went down for 1 minute of 1 day, you need to start over.
- Once you have the statement, you can use it for 28 days to apply for a visa (NOTE YOU NEED TO COUNT THE DAYS ACCORDING TO THE DAY YOU FINALISE YOUR APPLICATION, NOT THE DATE OF YOUR APPOINTMENT).
- Everything needs to either be in English or be translated.
You can read our more detailed post on the financial requirement here.
Immigration Health Surcharge
- You need to pay £150 per year to be able to use the NHS (for our guide on how to use the NHS go here).
- You will have 4 extra months in your visa (6 if you're in Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, or Imperial) after the end of your studies. Therefore, you will have to pay a bit more than the £150.
- You will pay this when you finish your application. If you're outside of the UK, the payment will be in USD.
Once you get approved
- You'll get a 30-day sticker or vignette on your passport. When you arrive to the UK, you'll then get your actual Tier 4 visa, in the form of a Biometric Residence Permit or BRP. You can pick this up either in your uni or in a post office. If it has a mistake, you need to notify the UKVI in maximum 10 working days to this address BRPError@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
- Restrictions of your visa:
- Full-time studies only
- You can only work 20 hours per week (note voluntary work is work)
- You cannot work as a sportsperson or entertainer or be self-employed.
- Your dependants can work full-time