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.
Tier 4 visa categories
There are two types of Tier 4 Student visa: The Tier 4 (General) Student visa - for applicants aged Over 18 and the Tier 4 (Child) Student visa
- for those aged between 4 and 17.
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 permitted to work for up to 20 hours per week during term time and full time during the holidays.
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
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 up to 1 month before their studies commence, and may stay for up to 4 months after they finish
6-12 months: Students may arrive in the UK up to 1 month before their studies commence, and may stay for up to 2 months after they finish
Less than 6 months: Students may arrive in the UK up to 1 week before their studies commence, and may stay for up to 1 week after they finish
Pre-sessional English courses: Students may arrive in the UK up to 1 week before their studies commence, and may stay for up to 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
Students who are in a course at or above degree level (NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9) at a UK higher education institution are permitted 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.
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.
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
Our team of specialists has years of experience in visa services. We are registered with the OISC at Level 3 to provide Immigration advice and services.
For more information and advice on UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0203 488 2308 or at Info@worldwideimmigration.co.uk