Tier 4 Student Visa Overview
The Tier 4 visa application process is points based, and requires various supporting documents as well as confirmation of acceptance for studies at a UK school, college, or university. The education institution in question must be on the UK's list of registered Tier 4 sponsors.
Below you will find detailed information on the Tier 4 visa and its application process. If you would like more information, help, or advice on UK immigration please contact our London office on on 0344 991 9222 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tier 4 visa categories
There are two types of Tier 4 Student visa: the Tier 4 (General) Student visa - for applicants aged 18+, and the Tier 4 (Child) Student visa – for those aged between 4 and 17. This guide covers both types of Tier 4 visa.
Tier 4 (General) Student visa For students aged 18 or over who have been offered a place on a course at a UK educational institution. Courses of study covered by this visa include degree level courses, and level 3 courses such as A levels. While studying, some students are allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week during term time and full time during the holidays. Changes to UK immigration rules in 2015 mean that students at further education colleges on this type of visa may no longer work while they study.
Tier 4 (Child) Student visa For students under the age of 18 who have been offered a place on a course at a UK educational institution with a valid Tier 4 sponsorship licence. Tier 4 sponsors are usually independent fee-paying schools. Some students over the age of 16 may work for up to 10 hours per week during term time and full time during holidays. Changes to UK immigration rules in 2015 mean that students at publicly funded further education colleges on this type of visa may no longer work while they study.
Length of stay
The current system grants student visas for an initial period which varies depending on the length of the course:
- 12 months or more: Students may arrive in the UK upto 1 month before their studies commence, and may stay for upto 4 months after they finish
- 6-12 months: Students may arrive in the UK upto 1 month before their studies commence, and may stay for upto 2 months after they finish
- Less than 6 months: Students may arrive in the UK upto 1 week before their studies commence, and may stay for upto 1 week after they finish
- Pre-sessional English courses: Students may arrive in the UK upto 1 week before their studies commence, and may stay for upto 1 month after they finish
English language requirement
Tier 4 student visa applicants may be required to complete an English test if they are not nationals of an English-speaking country or have not completed any academic courses in English.
The Tier 4 application process is based on a points assessment. Applicants must score the full 40 points to be granted a Tier 4 visa. The table below gives a detailed breakdown of the Tier 4 points assessment.
Tier 4 Student Visa Points Table
Having a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies from a Tier 4 sponsor
Funds: at least £9,180 for maintenance (living costs), and enough to cover course/tuition fees for the first year of your studies
Help with tuition fees may be available to international students from Student Finance; the UK's official student loan provider. However, help with maintenance (living costs) is restricted to UK nationals and residents. Generally this means people who have legally been in the UK for at least 3 years.
Students who are in a course at or above degree level (NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9) at a UK higher education institution are allowed to:
work for up to 20 hours per week during term time
work full-time during vacations
do a work placement as part of your course
work as a student sabbatical officer
work as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised Foundation Programme.
If you are on a course below this level at a UK higher education institution, you are allowed to:
work for up to 10 hours per week during term time;
do a work placement as part of your course;
work full-time during vacations.
If you are on a course at any level at a publicly funded further education college, you are allowed to:
do a work placement as part of your course, provided your education provider is a Highly Trusted sponsor or the course is at or above NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9.
Tier 4 visas rule changes mean that as of August 2015 students at publicly funded further education colleges are no longer allowed to work, bringing them in line with existing rules for privately further education funded colleges.
Family members (dependants)
In some cases, you can bring your partner or children with you during your studies, but you must show that you have sufficient funds to provide for them. They will be able to apply under the Tier 4 student visa as a dependent. People who can bring their dependants to the UK include:
- Studying towards an NQF level 7 (UK Master's degree) or higher qualification in the UK for at least 1 year, OR;
- Sponsored by the UK government on a course lasting at least 6 months, OR;
- Studying on a Doctorate Extension Scheme
Parents of children under the age of 12 who are studying at an independent fee paying UK school on a Tier 4 (Child) visa may also come to the UK on a Parent of a Tier 4 Child Visa.
Tier 4 applicants must supply several documents with their application. These include:
Current passport and/or other travel documents
A separate passport photograph, with the applicant's name on the back
Proof of maintenance and course fee funds, such as bank statements and loan agreements
If under the age of 18, a letter showing that the applicant has his/her parent/legal guardian's consent to travel to the UK
A clear tuberculosis (TB) test result letter, if the applicant is from one of the countries on the Home Office's TB testing list, found here (link).
Tier 4 student visa applicants from certain countries can qualify for an exception because they are considered to be 'low risk' and will normally be required to provide fewer evidential documents.
A Tier 4 student visa applicant qualifies for this exception if they are:
sponsored by a Highly Trusted Sponsor; and
applying for entry clearance in his/her country of nationality or for leave to remain in the UK; and
a national of:
Trinidad and Tobago
United States of America
British Nationals living oversea
Switching to another UK visa category
Tier 4 students at UK universities may be able to switch to a UK work visa – such as Tier 2 or Tier 5 – when their studies are completed. Please see our UK Business and Work page for more details on these visa types.
As of 2015 Tier 4 visa holders at further education colleges may no longer switch to another UK visa category from inside the UK when their studies finish, such as Tier 2 or Tier 5 work visas. Tier 4 college students who wish to work in the UK after their studies finish must now leave the UK and apply for a UK work visa from outside of the country.
Further information, help, and advice
Workpermit.com's team of specialists has over 25 years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the UK. We work with OISC registered advisers who can submit your UK visa application to the Home Office to be dealt with on the same day.