Since the announcement of changes to immigration rule HC 2631 and the return of Post Study Work Visa, many international students contacted us for legal advice. In this article we will explore the general requirements of the Tier 4 Visa for all prospective international students.
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What is on this page?
- Entry clearance
- Education body
- Visa Requirements
- Application time and fee
- Immigration Health Surcharge
- CAS letter
- When to Apply
- Academic Requirements
- Supporting documents
- What would you do next?
The starting point for an international student is to obtain Entry Clearance Visa from the UK High Commission from their home country. Tier 4 student category is divided between minor and adult students. An adult student is someone who would like to study in the UK for post-16 education under Tier 4 (general) and a child student is a person aged between 4 and 17 years and intends to study in the United Kingdom.
It is important to note that a student cannot simply enroll at any college or university. The educational body or college/university where a student wishes to study must be an approved education provider. If an international student enrols at a place of study which is not a registered sponsor or on the list of the registered sponsors, then the student cannot apply for a student visa. Here is a list of all registered sponsors, (authorized colleges and universities) for the year 2019/20.
- The student must be registered or enrolled with an approved education provider and this will provide 30 points.
- The student must have sufficient funds to pay his tuition fee and living expenses in the UK, and this will give an international student further 10 points.
- The applicant must when required to do so on examination or at interview prove the proficiency of English language of a standard to be expected from such individual as specified in his/her CASS letter (letter issued by the college or University).
- The Entry Clearance officer must also be satisfied that the applicant is a genuine student and the purpose of the stay in the UK will be purely for studies. (Although, you may be allowed to pursue part-time work both during and after term time i.e. on vacation. This is subject to a weekly and hourly cap)
- The student must be from a country that is not in the European Economic Area or Switzerland
Application Time and Fee
You may apply 3 months before you start your course and a decision is usually made in three weeks. Visa processing times vary by country and can be checked online. It costs £348 to apply from outside the UK and it is the same price per person for any dependents a student wishes to bring along.
Immigration Health Surcharge
You will have to pay the immigration health surcharge during the online application process by debit or credit card and you need to return to the application (after paying) in 30 minutes maximum.
As an international student or on a Youth Mobility Scheme you have to pay £300 Immigration Health Surcharge per year.
Once you are granted with a Tier 4 student visa then you can arrive in the UK up to 1 week before if your course lasts 6 months or less or up to 1 month before if your course is more than 6 months. Once here, you cannot get access to public funds, work in certain jobs like for example professional sportsperson or sports coach or study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (maintained school).
CAS: The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies
A student must obtain a CAS letter, which is issued by an approved education provider. Each CAS has a unique reference number. The CAS also provides information about the intended educational course for which it is issued and other personal details.
When to Apply for
You must apply for your visa no more than 6 months after you receive the CAS and an entry clearance or leave to remain must be made no more than three months before the start of the course. A CAS will expire if it is not used for entry clearance or where it is left unused for six months from the date of issue. Most importantly, the CAS letter can be used only once.
The course which is pursued by a student must meet the Home Office’s minimum educational/academic requirements and must be a full-time course of study and must take place on the premises of the education provider except where the applicant is on work placement.
The student must provide documentary evidence that he has access to the funds. Following documents are accepted by Entry Clearance Officers and the Home Office
- Personal bank or building society’s statement.
- A building society’s passbook.
- A letter from another financial institution which is regulated by the FSA etc.
- a current passport or other valid travel documentation (blank page needed for visa)
- proof that you can support yourself and pay for your course – this will vary depending on your circumstances
- proof of parental or other legal guardian’s consent if you’re under 18
- proof of your relationship with your parent or guardian if you’re under 18
- your (Tuberculosis) TB test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
- This list is by no means exhaustive. You may also need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances. (A yellow fever test result may be required and so maybe a birth certificate. It is important that individual circumstances may vary greatly.)
Where a student is sponsored by any government or other institute or organisation, the details must be available either through CAS or a letter is required from the sponsoring body. The letter must confirm the length of the sponsorship and that it will cover the financial obligations of the student.
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