Tier 4 visa (1)

NEW STUDENTS - APPLYING FOR A TIER 4 VISA OVERSEAS

This page is aimed at new students who do not have a current visa to study in the UK, and who need to apply for a Tier 4 visa from overseas.

You may also find this page useful if you are currently studying at Aston or you have finished a course at another university in the UK, and you have been advised to apply for your visa from overseas.

There is a lot of information on this page, so if you do not understand anything, please do contact us for further advice. 

Please see our International Student News and Updates page for the latest Tier 4 updates

  • Update 05/11/2018: Passport sized photographs are no longer required for a visa application
  • Update 8/01/2019: The Immigration Health Surcharge has doubled in cost as of 8th January 2019. All visa applications made after this date will be subject to a higher charge.

We advise that you use our guidance and complete the visa application yourself. 

The International Student Advisers at Aston University offer a free and confidential expert immigration advice service. 

However, if you enlist an agent to assist you with your visa application, we strongly advise that you personally ensure that all of your documents and application form are correct and that they meet the visa requirements.

The UKVI cannot reconsider a visa refusal due to mistakes made by you or a third party. 

If you are planning to do any of the following full time courses at Aston University and you are not a UK or EEA/EU national, you will require a Tier 4 visa:

  • Bachelors course including integrated masters (e.g. BSc, BA, BEng, MPharm, MOptom, MEng)
  • Taught postgraduate masters course (e.g. MA, MBA, LLM. MSc)
  • PhD and research (e.g. MPhil, PhD, MRes)
  • Pre-sessional English course
  • Exchange programme (more than 6 months)
  • International Foundation Programme

The type of visa you need will usually be confirmed once you have applied for your course at Aston. If you have been advised to get a Short Term Study visa, please refer to this page

If you need a Tier 4 visa, in the online visa application form, we advise that you apply for the Tier 4 (General) Student visa (even if you are receiving official financial scholarship).

The "Tier 4 Student visa (for Chevening, Marshal and Commonwealth scholars)" is only relevant if you are receiving these specific scholarships.

You are allowed to apply for your visa up to 3 months before your course start date.

You should apply as early as you can, but only once you meet all of the requirements outlined on this page.

Think of the visa application in two stages: 

1) Prepare all of the relevant documents to show that you meet the Tier 4 requirements. You can do this while you are waiting for your CAS.

2) Apply for the visa online and complete the application process. 

You should not apply for the visa until you are certain that you have all of the required documents. Please see below for the requirements of each document that you might need.

You will need to apply from the country where you are a resident. This will usually be through a UKVI partner such as TLScontact or VFS Global depending on your country.

"Resident" usually means the country where you are living. This is likely the country of your nationality, but it could also be the country where you are working or studying at the moment.

You can't apply in a country where you are just a visitor.  

If you are unsure where to apply then please contact us.

A Tier 4 visa is the correct visa to do a full time course in the UK and the majority of overseas students will require one.

If you have another type of visa that allows full-time study in the UK (e.g. Spouse visa, Dependant visa, Indefinite Leave to Remain) you should not need to apply for a Tier 4 visa.

Please get in touch if you're unsure whether your current visa will allow you to study at Aston.

 


 

DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE 

 

Documents all applicants will need

Documents you might need

CAS number - This is an electronic document and does not need to be printed unless advised

Tuberculosis (TB) clearance certificate (only if you are applying from a country that requires this)

All passports/travel documents

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate (only if you will study a course at Aston which requires this)

Biometric Residence Permit  (BRP) - if you have one

Letter of consent from parents allowing you to use their funds (only if you are using their financial evidence)

Official documents showing you meet the financial requirement (e.g. bank statement, bank letter, official financial sponsorship letter)

Original birth certificate (only if using parent's financial evidence)

Official qualification -

(degree/transcript) showing you have successfully completed the course your offer was based on

Letter of consent from parents allowing you to travel and live independently (only if you are under 18 at the time of application)

 

Official translations (if any of these documents are not in English/Welsh)

 

Proof that you can apply from the country you are in (Only if you are applying in a country where you are not a citizen)

 

This is just a general checklist. The documents you provide to support your visa application are very important and must meet certain requirements - please see the section below for more information about each document. 

Please ensure your documents meet the criteria as listed in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance before you submit your application. You should obtain all necessary documents in the right format before you apply for your visa online.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us for advice.

 

Your CAS number is a compulsory part of your visa application that confirms to the UKVI that Aston University will sponsor your study in the UK.

If you are eligible, Aston will create your unique CAS number once you obtain and accept an unconditional offer. You may also have to pay a deposit before Aston can issue your CAS.

Your CAS will be sent to you via email and contains information about your course as well as your personal information. 

You will need to check all of the information on the CAS is correct (e.g. personal details, course information and tuition fees paid) and then copy and paste the CAS number into the relevant section of the online Tier 4 application form.

Getting an unconditional offer is not a guarantee you will get a CAS. Aston is legally obligated to assess your eligibility for a CAS number regardless of an unconditional offer. We must assess a variety of factors like an applicant's previous immigration history in the UK, including visa refusals and how long someone has already spent studying in the UK

During the admissions stage, you will be sent a Pre-CAS questionnaire to complete. It is crucial you complete this quickly and accurately so we can make a proper assessment.

Please inform the visa compliance team of any previous visa refusals or pending visa applications.

 

Pre-CAS example

You will need to provide your current passport for your visa application. Ideally, your passport would have at least 6 months before it expires, but this is not mandatory.

In addition, you will also need to provide any previous passports which you have used to travel to the UK.

The online visa application form will ask if you have a second nationality. It is up to you which nationality will be your primary nationality for this visa application, the visa requirements will be the same except for some special arrangements for low risk nationals (see below).

 

many-passports

BRP card

You should only have a BRP card if you had a previous visa in the UK. If you do have a BRP card with you overseas, then you should submit it with your visa application. If you have never had a BRP card before then ignore this section. 

The UKVI will issue you a new BRP when you arrive in the UK. Please see section "After You Apply" for more information about this. 

Financial evidence is a key part of the visa application. Incorrect financial evidence is the most common reason that Tier 4 applications are refused, so we encourage all students to check their financial evidence with us before they apply for their visa.

This section contains a lot of information, but it is very important that you understand it. Please click the image below for our separate financial evidence page

Financial requirements page-Cropped-234x187

As part of your Tier 4 visa application, you must provide the original academic qualifications that Aston university assessed to give you an unconditional offer.

The Home Office need to see this  as proof you have successfully obtained that qualification. Your CAS will state exactly which qualification you need to provide.

*Waiting to confirm that you have completed a course can be one of the biggest reasons for delays in CAS production.

The original academic qualification will usually be an official certificate or transcript but can include any English Language Tests too (e.g. IELTS)

The qualification must show:

  • your name; and 
  • the title of the award;
  • the date of the award; and
  • the name of the awarding institution
  • Confirmation of award if using a Transcript

 

CAS Qualification Example

TB certificate example

You will need to get a Tuberculosis clearance certificate if you are applying for a visa from any of the countries listed here and the following applies:

  • You have been in that country for more than 6 months (e.g. living there since birth)
  • You will be coming to the UK for over 6 months

You can only get the Tuberculosis certificate from approved UKVI clinics and the certificate must be included as part of your supporting documents. 

Please refer to the UKVI website for more information about where you can get your Tuberculosis certificate if you need one. 

ATAS means Academic Technology Approval Scheme. It is a mandatory security clearance certificate for certain postgraduate courses.

You will be told if you need an ATAS certificate when you get an offer for your course at Aston. Your CAS will also state if you need ATAS or not for your course. If you do not need an ATAS certificate then please ignore this section.

If you do require an ATAS certificate, you can apply for it using a free online service. There are some important things to know about ATAS:

  1. You will require some information from Aston University to complete the application - this will usually be given to you once you get a conditional offer
  2. Once you finish the ATAS application, it can take around 1 month hear back from the Home Office. This means that you need to apply as early as possible
  3. A CAS cannot be issued until your ATAS application has been approved
  4. If there are any major changes to your course after you get ATAS clearance (e.g. significant research proposal change or course start date is delayed by 3 months), you will require a new ATAS certificate.
  5. You are allowed to apply for multiple ATAS (if you hold offers for different universities)
  6. You can submit an ATAS application up to 6 months before the programme start date, even if the offer is still conditional

Once you get your ATAS certificate, you will need to print it out and include with your application. You must use your ATAS certificate to apply for your visa within 6 months of receiving it. 

  • You can find more information about ATAS on the official website here.
  • You will apply for your ATAS certificate using the online form here
  • Click the picture below for our guide about how to complete the ATAS application. 

 

ATAS capture

Financial Evidence

If you will use financial evidence that is in the name of your parents/legal guardians, you will need some extra documents. Please remember, this is not the same as your parents giving you the money to hold in your own account.

The financial evidence from your parents must meet the same rules as explained in the "financial evidence section". You will also need to include:

  • An original birth certificate to prove the relationship with your parents/legal guardian. If you are relying on a legal guardian's financial evidence then an official court document can be used, but please get this checked with us.
  • An original letter of consent from your parents/ legal guardian explaining their relationship with you and that they give you permission to use their funds for your study in the UK. Have a look at the example here.

If you are relying on your parents' financial evidence and do not include these documents then the financial evidence will be invalid.  

Under 18 years old

If you are under 18 years old then you will need to include a letter of consent from your parents which explicitly states that they give you permission to travel and live in the UK independently. If the Home Office cannot see that this permission has been given then they will refuse the application.

Letter of consent example

If any of your documents are not readable in English, you must provide an official English (or Welsh) translation to accompany the document. 

If the document is not in English or no official translation is provided, then the document will not be accepted and this can lead to a visa refusal.

*You cannot translate the document yourself.

An official translation must include the following information so the Home Office can independently verify it: 

  • it must contain confirmation from the translator/translation company that it is an accurate translation of the original document 
  • the date of the translation,  
  • the translator/an authorised official of the translation company’s full name and signature, and  
  • the translator/translation company’s contact details

Please ensure that the translator you choose will include the above information.

translation example

This is only relevant if you are applying from a country where you are not a citizen. 

You can only apply for your Tier 4 visa from the country you are resident or "living in". This can mean your country of nationality, or the country where you work, live or study and have a valid permit/visa to do so. 

If this applies to you, you will likely have to submit proof of this permit/visa that allows you to be in that country.

You should not apply from a country where you are just a visitor/tourist


 

 


 

LOW-RISK NATIONALS / DIFFERENTIATION ARRANGEMENT

Nationals of some countries do not need to provide evidence of their qualifications or their money when they apply for Tier 4 (General). The Home Office calls this the 'differentiation arrangement' for 'low-risk applicants'. 

You are a 'low-risk' applicant if you are applying for Tier 4 (General) to study at an institution that has Tier 4 Sponsor status, and:

  • you are a national of Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, The Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, UAE and the United States of America and you are applying for entry clearance in the country or territory where you are living or for leave to remain in the UK; or 
  • you hold a Hong Kong*, Macau SAR passport or a British National (Overseas) passport and you are applying for entry clearance in the country or territory where you are living or for leave to remain in the UK; or
  • you hold a Taiwan (ROC) passport* with a residence card number, and you are applying for entry clearance in the country or territory where you are living or for leave to remain in the UK

* On the Tier 4 application form, select 'Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China' or 'Taiwan' (as appropriate) as your nationality.

It is very important that as a low-risk applicant you still obtain the evidence of your qualifications and your money, even though you do not need to send them. This is because the Home Office can request this evidence as part of their decision process and they will refuse your application if you are unable to provide it within a specified time-frame. 

We always advise that low-risk nationals prepare their documents in the same way as normal applicants.

 


 

TIER 4 APPLICATION FORM

Once you have all necessary documents to show you meet the Tier 4 visa requirements, you can then move on to completing the visa application form online.

You can draft and save the form anytime you like, even whilst you are getting your documents ready. But it is important not to submit it until you are sure your documents clearly show you meet the Tier 4 visa requirements. 

Please read about BRP pick up location in the section below.

*VERY IMPORTANT - The UKVI will count the day you pay for the application as the official date you applied. All visa requirements should have been met by the day you pay for the application. For example, you should have already held money for 28 days and gotten the correct documents to show this by the time you pay for the application. You cannot pay for the application and then wait 28 days. 

You can find the online application form here

Click the picture on the right for guidance on how to complete the form. 

App form guidance

Standard Visa application fee 

Current fee is  £348

This is subject to change and you will pay the equivalent of this fee in your home currency.

This is also the standard application fee for any dependants you include on your application.

Depending on which country you are applying from, there are usually services you can pay for to expedite your visa application. If you want to explore using any of these extra services, you can find more information on the website of the relevant the UKVI partner for your country:

TLS Contact

VFSglobal

Please note that some countries may ask you to "Register with a Commercial Partner" in order to proceed with your visa application. This will usually be in countries where there are a low number of visa applications to the UK or the Home Office presence is low. You may be asked to pay an extra administration charge equivalent to £55, which should be paid at the same time as the visa application fee  

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)  

This fee is to cover the use of the National Health Service in the UK and is a mandatory part of the T4 application.

You are only liable to pay this charge if your Tier 4 visa will be for more than 6 months.

The IHS fee is £300 per year of your visa.

Please note that your entire Tier 4 visa length usually includes 1 month before course start date and 4 months after the end date therefore the IHS charge will likely be rounded up to the nearest 6 months. Approximate calculations of your IHS fee will be based on the course start and end dates on your CAS:

1 Year course: £450

3 Year course: £1050

4 Year course: £1350

5 Year course: £1650

*Please note that these are estimates. Currency fluctuation (if paying in your home currency) and bespoke course lengths can affect these prices.  

 


 

AFTER YOU APPLY

1) BRP pick up location

If your visa application is successful, you will notice when you get your passport back that you will only have a 30 day entry sticker. You must enter the UK within these 30 days and you will collect a BRP card in the UK which will contain the full time for your Tier 4 visa.

To collect your BRP card from Aston University, write 2HE554 for the alternative collection code in your Tier 4 application form [ASTON STUDENTS ONLY]. You must collect your full visa issued on a BRP card within 10 days of arrival in the UK or before your 30 day entry visa expires, whichever is later. Please refer to the picture below for reference. 

2) Book an appointment at a visa application centre

You will book an appointment at a nearby visa application centre to submit your biometric information (fingerprints and digital photo). 
Usually, you will also submit your documents at this appointment (visa application centres in some countries, such as the USA, may ask you to post your documents after completing biometric enrolment).

You may also be interviewed during the appointment - please see the information on credibility interviews below.

*PLEASE NOTE – The UKVI have introduced changes to some visa application centres overseas (e.g. China, India, Malaysia and others) where you will have the opportunity to upload your documents to a third party website prior to attending your appointment.  If you are presented with this option, you can upload your documents but we always advise that you still bring your documents to your appointment just in case.

3) Print the UKVI Checklist and attend your appointment

You will be prompted to print the checklist and take this and your documents to your appointment.

Make sure to arrive in good time - once you have attended this appointment and submitted your documents, you will usually just need to wait for a decision. 

We recommend that all applicants make photocopies of all documents being submitted. In the event of a visa refusal, this will make challenging the decision easier.

BRP pick up

4) Use of E-Gates

The following nationalities when arriving in the UK are permitted to use the “E-Gates” for quicker entry into the UK.

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • USA

This means that if you are a national of any of the above countries and once your Tier 4 visa is approved and you have your “30 day visa sticker”, you can choose to use the E-Gates at a UK airport instead of waiting in line to see a Border Officer. It is not mandatory to use an E-Gate and you can still see a Border Officer if you want. More information here.

All other nationalities still must see a Border Officer and present their visa/passport in person when entering the UK

If you have been advised to get a Short Term Study visa at the airport and are a national of any of the above countries, you must NOT use the E-gates as only a Border Officer can give you the stamp you require to verify Short Term study in the UK.  More information here.                              

Usually the standard application process can take up to 15 working days (3 weeks). Paying for priority or super-priority services (if available) can shorten this time.

It's very important to make sure that you allow enough time to get your visa and arrive at Aston University before the latest date of enrolment for your course. If you arrive after this date, we may not be able to accept you onto course despite you having a visa to study.

Be mindful that during the busy period (August to October), waiting times may be longer. 

You can see up to date processing times here

 


 

 CREDIBILITY INTERVIEWS

Most Tier 4 applications should be interviewed as part of the Tier 4 visa process. Interviews take place when you attend a visa application centre to give your biometric information. It will be done via videolink with a Home Office member of staff in the UK and they will ask you questions about

  • The course you want to study
  • Why you want to study at Aston University
  • The reasons why you chose to study in the UK
  • How the course fits into your future career plans

The transcript of your interview will be sent to the Home Office Entry Clearance Officer who decides your visa application. They will use it to determine your genuineness and English Language Ability.

You may be called in for a further interview, or your visa application may be refused if the Entry Clearance Officer determines you are not a genuine student.

We strongly recommend that you research your course in preparation for a credibility interview. 

We also advise that you read pages 100 - 105 of the Tier 4 Modernised guidance for further information about credibility interviews.

You can refer to our written guidance here which has more information about credibility interviews.

Please also watch the videos below (produced by INTO Study) for advice about how to conduct yourself in the credibility interview. 

  1. Student is well prepared
  2. Student is not well prepared

Once you have completed this process, you should just need to wait for a decision on your visa application.

We hope everything goes well and we look forward to welcoming you to Aston University.

Please don't hesitate to contact us at any point during the visa application process - we are here to help!

Phone: +44 (0) 121 204 4007                       Email: astoninternational@aston.ac.uk 


 

VISA REFUSALS

The most important thing is not to panic!

Please contact us straight away so we can assess the reason for refusal and determine whether we can challenge the refusal or if you can apply again.

We will need to see the visa refusal decision letter as well as the documents you submitted with your application.

Do NOT try to challenge a refusal without seeking our advice first.


 

TIER 4 DEPENDANTS

Not all Tier 4 students can bring their dependants to the UK with them.  You will normally only be able to have dependants with you in the UK if you are studying at Aston for a postgraduate course that lasts more than 9 months, or you are a government sponsored students studying for a course that lasts at least 6 months. 

There are some other special circumstances in which dependants that currently have or have recently had permission to be in the UK as a Tier 4 student’s dependant may also qualify but this is rather complicated and you should contact us for further advice.

You will need to show that there is enough money available to cover your dependants living costs in addition to your living costs and the tuition fees for your course.  You will need to show that this money has been available throughout a 28 day period that ends no more than one month before you apply for your visa.  The money must be held in an account in your name and/or the dependant’s name and this includes joint accounts. You cannot use money held in an account that is solely in your dependant’s name as evidence that you have enough money to meet your own maintenance requirements for your Tier 4 application.

For the financial requirement for your dependant (Spouse, a child under 18 years old), you will need to show that there is at least £6,120 held for 28 days available for each dependant’s living costs.  If your dependant's new visa will last for less than 9 months then you should only need to show that you have at least £680 available for each dependant for each month (including part months) that the new visa will be granted for.

For example:

If your partner and child are in the UK as your dependants, you are applying to extend your visas together and you have more than 9 months left of your course you would need to show a total of £21,375 for you and your dependants’ living costs (£9,135 for you and £6,120 for each dependant).  You will also need to show that you have enough money to pay your tuition fees.

 

You will also have to pay the same application fee and immigration health surcharge to process the dependant visa application, and you should ideally apply all at the same time. Besides the financial requirement, there will be some other documents you need - see here for details.


 

MORE RESOURCES

  • UKCISA website - UK Council of International Student Affairs. A non-government organisation with a focus on international student issues
  • UKVI website - Official Home Office website for the Tier 4 visa application
  • Tier 4 policy guidance - The laws and regulations of the Tier 4 visa
  • Tier 4 modernised guidance - These are instructions for the UKVI caseworker will use to assess your Tier 4 visa application

 

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Last updated 12/04/2019 VN