Advice and guidance on how to apply for the Tier 4 (General) visas including the Tier 4 Dependant visa
We can offer support and advice in the following Tier 4 areas:
- Applying from outside the UK;
- Applying from inside the UK;
- Applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa for part-time courses of 6 months or more (see 'Important changes to the immigration rules' below for more details);
- PBS Dependants;
- Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS).
Further information on all areas of Tier 4 can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website.
How to apply for Tier 4 (General) visa from outside of the UK
If you are applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa outside of the UK you must apply and pay for your application online, unless you are from North Korea, in which case you will need to complete the paper application form.
You should apply for your visa as soon as possible – but please note that you cannot apply for a visa more than three months before the start date of your course of study. If you apply earlier, then your visa application will be refused.
Once you have submitted your application form online you will need to book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC). You will need to have your biometric (fingerprints and photograph) information taken, and then submit your support supporting documents (in person or by post dependent on the VAC). You may also be asked to attend a credibility interview where you will be asked a series of questions about your visa application and proposed study at Cranfield University.
How to apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa from inside the UK
If you are making your application from inside the UK, you will need to make your application online via the UK Visas and Immigration website. Once you have completed the application form and paid the IHS, biometrics and application fee, you will have three options to choose how soon you should receive a decision on your application:
- Standard Service - you should receive a decision within eight weeks from your date of submitting and paying for your application online. If UK Visas and Immigration are unable to make a decision on your application within the eight week time frame, they will write to you and inform you. The cost of this service is currently £475.
- Priority Service - after giving your biometrics at an appointment with a Sopra Steria UKVCAS centre, the process should take no more than 10 working days for you to receive a decision and currently costs £952.
- Super Priority Service - if you choose this option, you should get a decision the day after submitting your biometrics at your appointment with a Sopra Steria UKVCAS centre. Your BRP will be delivered to you by post within 7-10 working days of the decision being made. The cost of using the premium service is currently £1,085.
Once you've chosen the mode of application, you will be directed to the Sopra Steria UKVCAS website to book an appointment. At the appointment, you will have your documents checked and scanned, and your biometrics taken. At the end of your appointment, all of your documents will be returned to you for you to take home whilst your visa application is being considered.
Our local UKVCAS centre is in Bedford town centre. Appointments at this centre cost upwards of £60 per person depending on date and time of the appointment.
You must submit your visa application online before your current visa expires.
Documents required for Tier 4 (General) visa application
You will require the following documents in support of your application:
- Current passport and any previous passports that you have used to travel to the UK;
- Your Biometric Residence Permit (if applicable);
- Police Registration Certificate - if it was a condition of your previous leave to register with the police, you will have a registration certificate;
- Confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) - more information on how to apply for the CAS number is available in the 'Further documentation' section on this page;
- Evidence used to obtain offer as referred to on your CAS - you will need to submit any documents that Cranfield University has listed on your CAS document that were used for your admission;
- Evidence of your IELTS (International English Language Testing);
- Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) - ATAS clearance is needed for some postgraduate study in the UK and in some areas of research - you must have a valid ATAS clearance certificate before you apply for your Tier 4 (General) visa. More information on how to apply is in the 'Further documentation' section on this page;
- Evidence of finances - you will need to provide evidence with your visa application that you are able to pay for your tuition fees and living expenses, or have a sponsor who will support you financially'
- Translations - if any of your documents are not in English, you will need to provide a certified translation
- Tuberculosis (TB) testing (if applicable) - If you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months and are a resident in any of these listed countries you will need a certificate confirming that you are free of TB. You must obtain the certificate from an approved clinic. Certificates from non-approved clinics will not be accepted.
Evidence of finances for your visa application
You will need to prove to the Home Office that you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees and your living expenses (maintenance) while you are studying in the UK.
You must be able to show that you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees for the first year of your course at Cranfield University. Your CAS document will detail the fees you have paid and the fees that are due. The amount stated in the fees due is the amount of money that you will need to show to the Home Office.
You must also be able to show that you have enough money to pay for your living expenses. The Home Office state that you need £1,015 for maintenance per month for nine months. Therefore you will need to show that you have £9,135 (£1,015 x 9).
What money can I use?
Money that you use must be:
- Held in an account by you or your parents;
- In the form of cash funds held in the bank;
- Used for your studies and living costs in the UK, and must continue to be available to you after your application is made.
It is also possible to use a joint account, however you must be named on the account along with one other person.
What financial documents should I include with my application?
- Personal/joint bank account statements
The statements must show your name or your parents' name(s), the account number, date of the statement, the bank’s name and logo and the amount of money available. The Home Office will not accept bank statements from any other relative or friend. If you are using your parents' or legal guardian's bank statements, you must also provide your birth certificate and a letter of parental consent confirming that the money will be used for your studies.
It is possible to use overseas bank accounts, but if they are not in English you will need to send an official translation.
If your bank statements are in your home currency, the Home Office will expect you to show (by writing on the document) the closing balance in pounds sterling (access the OANDA currency converter).
Finally, you must ensure that your funds are not held in a financial institution that the Home Office are unable to verify. Check Appendix P of the Immigration Rules.
In the case of using a bank statement as evidence of finances, you must show that you have had the required funds for a consecutive 28 days from the date of the closing balance (latest transaction date). Also, there must be less than 31 days between the date of the closing balance and the date of your visa application.
- Paper receipts
If Cranfield University has not included details of money that you have already paid to the University for your tuition fees or accommodation, you will need to include paper receipts confirming that all fees have been paid or a part payment has been paid.
- Official Financial sponsorship or government sponsorship
If Cranfield University is acting as your financial sponsor, the details will be noted on your CAS. For any other financial sponsorship, you must provide a confirmation letter from your official financial sponsor. The letter must contain your name, the name and contact details of the official financial sponsor, the length of sponsorship, and the amount of money they will be giving to you. This letter must be dated and stamped by the official financial sponsor.
You can only receive official financial sponsorship from the UK Government, your home government, the British Council, any international organisation, an international company (must have an office in more than one country), any university or a UK independent school.
What is a Tier 4 (Dependant) visa?
Under the Tier 4 immigration rules, your dependants are:
- A husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner or same sex partner;
- Children under 18 years of age (children must not be married or in a civil partnership, must not have formed an independent family unit, and must not be leading an independent life).
You can bring your dependants to the UK only if you are on a full-time course (part-time courses are not eligible) and are:
- Sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at NQF level 7 or above that lasts 1 year or more;
- A new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts 6 months or longer.
How to apply for a Tier 4 (Dependant) visa
If you are applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa for a full-time course your family members must apply at the same time as you. Alternatively, once you arrive in the UK and your Tier 4 (General) visa has been granted your family can then make an application as dependants.
Each dependant will need to complete a separate application form online and pay the relevant fee. If your dependants are from Cuba or North Korea they will need complete the paper application form. The NHS Immigration Health Surcharge will also need to be paid and their biometrics (fingerprint and photograph) will need to be taken as part of their visa application.
Documents required for a Tier 4 (Dependant) visa application
Your dependants will require the following documents in support of their application:
- Current passport;
- Two passport photographs - these must comply with the Home Office photograph guidance guidelines;
- Marriage certificate (if inviting your partner);
- Birth certificate (if inviting your children);
- Evidence of finances - you will need to provide evidence with your visa application that you are able to pay for your family’s living expenses, or have a sponsor who will support you financially - more information on how to apply is in the 'Further documentation; section on this page;
- Translations - if any of your documents are not in English you will need to provide a certified translation;
- Tuberculosis (TB) testing (if applicable) - if you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months and are a resident in any of these listed countries, you will need a certificate confirming that you are free of TB. You must obtain the certificate from an approved clinic. Certificates from non-approved clinics will not be accepted.
Important changes to the immigration rules
New rules on the use of eGates at the border
From June 2019, nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America will be able to use eGate entry at the border in 15 UK airports and the Eurotunnel.
If you are a national from one of these countries and you are coming to the UK for a study visit of 6 months or less:
- Please DO NOT use the eGate entry. You are required to visit a border force officer to receive an entry stamp in your passport on arrival in order for you to register with us as a student on a Short Term Study visa.
- Please DO NOT attempt to use the eGates to obtain a standard visit visa, as this visa is not accepted for study purposes.
If you are a national from one of these countries and you are coming to the UK for study using a Tier 4 visa:
- You are eligible to use the eGates, however, we will require proof that you entered the UK during the validity period of your Entry Clearance stamp. As such, please be sure to have evidence such as your boarding pass, flight tickets or flight booking available at registration.
- Alternatively, you can visit a border force officer on arrival at the airport and receive an entry stamp in your passport instead of using the eGate system.
All other nationalities and visa holders must use the standard entry points and be seen by a border force officer.
Part-time courses and Tier 4 (General) visas
As of 11 January 2018, the Home Office introduced new immigration legislation requiring all international students coming to the UK to study a part-time course of 6 months or longer to obtain a Tier 4 (General) visa to cover the duration of their studies.
Such students will be subject to some additional restrictions:
- You will not be permitted to work in the UK whilst on a Tier 4 visa for part-time studies.
- You will not be permitted to bring any dependants with you.
- You will not be permitted to extend your visa from within the UK. If you need to extend your visa to complete your studies you will be required to return home and apply for an extension.
If you will need to support yourself financially by working alongside your studies, if you plan to bring dependents with you, or require the flexibility to extend your visa from within the UK, you will need to apply for a full-time course.
Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
Foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area have to apply for a biometric residence permit. If you are applying for your visa from outside the UK you will need to give your biometrics at a Visa Application Centre. If you are granted leave to enter the UK for more than six months you will receive a BRP card.
Successful applicants will be issued with a vignette in their passport which is valid for 30 days. The vignette validity will either begin 30 days before your course start date or 7 days before your intended date of travel; whichever is the latter.
Once you arrive in the UK you will have 10 days to collect your BRP from the location specified on your visa application form. This is usually from the Post Office. If you do not travel within the 30 day limit as stated in your passport you will need to apply for another vignette.
Immigration Health Charge
The UK Government has introduced an immigration health surcharge. All Tier 4 students and their dependants who are coming to the UK for more than 6 months will be required to pay the surcharge. It will also be paid by Tier 4 students and their dependants who are already in the UK and apply to extend their visa after 6 April 2015. The surcharge rates were increased in 2019.
The immigration health charge will cost:
• £300 for students and their dependants;
• £400 for other applicants (Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 5).
The fee is an annual amount and you will be charged based on the maximum period of time for which your visa could be granted, as per your CAS document. The Immigration Surcharge tool on the Home Office website will help you to calculate how much you will need to pay.
The health charge is payable in full at the time of the immigration application. It is a mandatory payment, but will allow migrants to access the National Health Service in the same way as a permanent resident, i.e. they will receive NHS care generally free of charge but may be charged for services a permanent resident would also pay for, such as dental treatment and prescription charges in England.
CAS numbers for Cranfield campus courses
You will need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies number (CAS number) issued by us in order to apply for your tier 4 (General) visa.
To get your CAS number you need to have completed the following:
- accepted your full-time or part-time course offer online via the EVE portal for Cranfield campus .
- met all the conditions of your offer as stipulated in your offer letter.
Once you have completed these tasks we will email you with details of how to request a CAS number using the EVE portal.
You will be asked a series of questions to check that the information we have on your record is correct.
For instance, you will need to make sure that your name as shown on your passport, exactly matches our records. If required, you will be able to correct your name in EVE so that it matches your passport. You will also have the opportunity to provide any missing information or, if you already have a visa to study in the UK, you will have the chance to provide further details about this.
You must complete the CAS task in EVE even if you do not require a CAS number from us.
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is a UK Government scheme which aims to help stop the spread of knowledge and skills that could be used in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. ATAS clearance is needed for some postgraduate study in the UK and in some areas of research.
How do I apply for ATAS clearance?
You should apply for an ATAS certificate directly with the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) on their ATAS webpages. The application must be made online and is free of charge.
Please ensure that you have all of the required information/documentation to be able to complete the application fully. If your application is incomplete a decision on your application will be delayed. You should check the ATAS webpages for full details of what is required.
Information about your course including the subject JACS code can be found on your offer letter. If you intend to study a taught course you may also require course module information, which can be found on our website. If you will be studying a research programme, you will also need to provide the research proposal as detailed in your offer letter.
How long does the ATAS application take?
It can take at least 20 working days for the application decision and to receive your ATAS certificate. During busy periods, particularly in August and September, applications may take longer.
The ATAS certificate will be sent to you directly from the FCO by email.
Please note that ATAS will not begin processing your application until it is complete. They may request additional information from you and your application will be held until this has been received.
When should I apply for an ATAS certificate?
Apply as soon as you can; the sooner the application is submitted the sooner you will receive a response. You cannot apply for your Tier 4 visa until your ATAS certificate has been received.
Please also be aware that your ATAS certificate will expire after six months and must be valid at the point you make your visa application.
What to do if your visa is refused
If your visa application is refused you should contact the University immediately. The department you contact depends on which campus you are at. For Cranfield campus contact the Admissions Office and for Shrivenham you should email Academic Registry, Shrivenham. Please also copy in Student Immigration and Funding, providing a copy of the refusal letter given to you by the Home Office so that we can provide the right advice.
Your CAS number can only be used once. You must not use the same CAS number again to make a new visa application as you will be refused. We are not always able to issue you with a new CAS number if your Tier 4 (General) visa application is refused, but we will consider any requests carefully.