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International Students


If you are already in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, or in certain other visa categories, you may be able to extend your leave to remain under Tier 4 from within the UK. This section of the website provides information on how to go about extending your stay.

Please note:

  • If you are applying in order to commence a new course at Cambridge, your course start date must be within 28 days of the expiry of your current visa in order to apply from within the UK.
  • You must also apply before your current visa expires, otherwise you will become an overstayer and will not have valid permission to be in the UK.
  • If your current Tier 4 visa is sponsored by another institution you must provide evidence of either a new Tier 4 visa for Cambridge or proof of submitting an in-time visa application using our CAS before you can commence your studies. You will start your course at your own risk whilst your application is pending and will be without your passport so you must not plan any travel. The University requires you to keep us informed of the progress of your application.
  • If you are currently being sponsored by Cambridge for a Tier 4 visa and will be starting a new course in Michaelmas 2016, you may be able to start with your existing visa if your leave does not expire until after the start date of your new course. In line with Tier 4 policy, you must make a new Tier 4 application within six weeks of your course starting or before your leave expires, whichever is earlier. This means you will need to have made an application before 12 November 2016.

The International Student Team runs workshops for students applying to extend their visa from inside the UK. For further information please see our Visa Advice Service webpages

Step 1: Obtain ATAS clearance

Any student requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa undertaking a PhD-level research degree or Masters course in certain science and technology subjects requires an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance certificate. Your offer letter will confirm if you require ATAS. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) manages this scheme.

You must apply online to the FCO, using a statement provided by your supervisor. The application is free and you can apply when you have a conditional offer. You must receive an ATAS Certificate before applying for the Tier 4 visa. The FCO advises that it considers complete applications within 20 working days. The University monitors the outcome of your application.

Graduate Admissions provide details of the ATAS process for new graduate students and graduate students continuing on to a new graduate course.

Current students should contact the International Student Team.

Step 2: Obtain a CAS

Before you make a visa application you will require a CAS. The Graduate Admissions Office prepares and issues the CAS for new graduate students and graduate students continuing to a new graduate course. The International Student Team prepares all other CAS.


  • You should make sure that all of the details in your CAS are correct and let the team who issued the CAS know if there are any errors.
  • If your visa application is refused, you must notify the International Student Team immediately.
Step 3: When, where and how to apply

From the 18 March the cost of submitting a visa application is increasing to £448 for the standard service.

If you intend to apply from within the UK, you must complete the online application form and pay the application fee before your current visa expires. Failure to do so would result in you becoming an overstayer without valid permission to be in the UK. 

The online application is available via the Home Office's Tier 4 webpages

If you apply from within the UK, once you have completed the online application you can either send your supporting documents in the post or attend a Premium Service Centre (PSC). Alternatively you can use the Priority Service which allows for an outcome within 10 working days. In order to be eligible for this service you must complete the priority application request form before submitting your visa application. The form can be found here

You may be asked to attend a credibility interview as part of the application process. During this interview a member of Home Office staff may ask you a series of questions to assess whether you meet the English language requirements and determine if you are a 'genuine student.' If you are asked to attend such an interview you must do so unless there are exceptional circumstances. Failure to attend may lead to your application being refused.


If you are intending to apply from overseas, you should follow the procedure outlined in Applying for a Tier 4 visa (entry clearance)

Step 4: Healthcare surcharge

Applicants submitting a visa application from inside the UK are now required to pay an immigration health surcharge of £150 per year as part of their visa application in order to access healthcare services in the UK  If the leave includes part of a year that is 6 months or less, the amount payable for that period will be £75. Any Tier 4 dependants will also have to pay the surcharge.

Once payment has been made, you will receive a reference number starting with 'IHS'.

If your visa application is not successful, you will automatically be refunded the immigration health surcharge (but not the visa application fee). The surcharge will not be partially refunded if you depart the UK earlier than the expiry of your visa. The surcharge is also not refunded if you do not use the NHS during your time in the UK.

Please note that students from Australia and New Zealand are exempt from the health surcharge as reciprocal agreements exist between the UK and these countries.


Step 5: Supporting documents

You must submit all of the documents listed at the end of your application form. This is likely to include your passport, passport photographs, evidence of qualifications outlined on your CAS, proof of your finances for fees and maintenance and your police registration certificate (if applicable).

Financial Evidence

The Home Office Tier 4 policy guidance outlines the specific documents you will need to provide including the types of acceptable financial evidence you can submit and the definition of an official financial sponsor. You are required to provide evidence that you have the funds to cover any course fees and £1015 per month for living costs for the duration of your course as outlined on your CAS, up to a maximum of 9 months. In addition any dependants are required to show £680 per month, up to a maximum of 9 months.

Please note there is no longer a reduced maintenance allowance for those who have previously been studying in the UK. You and any dependants  will need to show the maintenance amount for each month of your course, as outlined on your new CAS, up to a maximum of 9 months. Only Doctorate Extension Scheme applicants can benefit from a reduced amount for living costs of two months.

You are advised to use our Tier 4 Financial Checker tool to help determine the financial evidence you require as part of your visa application based on your circumstances.  

It is important you read the Tier 4 Policy Guidance to fully understand the requirements.

Date of Application
The Home Office defines the 'date of application' according to the method of application. If you apply online, the application date is the date on which you submit the online application form and pay the fee. This means you will need to ensure your financial documentation meets the specific Tier 4 requirements by this date.

Nationals subject to differentiation arrangements

You are subject to the Home Office differentiation arrangements if you come from one of the countries listed in Appendix H of the Immigration Rules. This means that do not need to provide certain supporting documents with your visa application including your financial evidence and academic qualifications. However the Home Office is entitled to ask for these documents during the consideration process and failure to provide them within a specified time frame could result in your application being refused. You are therefore advised to have the evidence available to you at the time of making your visa application.

As the University of Cambridge is participating in a Tier 4 visa pilot scheme, all students applying for a visa to undertake a Masters course of 13 months or less is subject to the differentation arrangements.

Step 6: Enrolling your biometrics

As part of the application process you must have your biometric details captured which involves having a facial image and your fingerprints taken.

If you submit your documents in person at a PSC, this will be done on the day of your appointment.

If you submit your documents by post the Home Office will write to you and ask you to attend a participating post office to enrol your biometric data within the timeframe specified on the letter.

The cost of enrolling your biometrics is around £20.

Step 7: Receiving your new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

If you apply to extend your visa from within the UK you will be given a BRP card as opposed to a visa vignette in your passport.

You should check that the following information is correct on your BRP:

  • your name and date of birth
  • that you are a Tier 4 (General) student
  • the Sponsor Licence Number is correct
  • for some students, the instruction to register with the police (see Police registration).

If your visa application is refused or you spot an error on your BRP then you should contact the International Student Team immediately.

Once you have received your BRP you must take this to your College Tutorial Office for scanning onto your student record.

Switching from Tier 4 to another visa category

If you switch out of Tier 4 anytime during the period of your Tier 4 permission, you must inform your College and the International Student Team. This is because, we have to report this change to the Home Office, and only on evidence of your new visa will we release you from Tier 4 responsibilities. Your College will upload your new visa onto your student record.

Switching into Tier 4

If you were granted permission to start your studies on an alternative visa, but need to switch Tier 4 to complete your studies, please contact the International Student Team for further guidance and advice.

Further sources of information


Home Office

Contact us

The University's International Student Team provides a Visa Advice Service and can assist with queries in relation to your Tier 4 visa application. However, it is your responsibility to make sure you understand and meet the UK immigration requirements.


Dependant family members

Your dependants can apply to extend their visa from inside the UK, ideally at the same time as you or once you have the outcome of your visa.

Each dependant will need to show that they have 680GBP in maintenance for each month of the visa extension up to a maximum of 9 months.

If you already have dependants with you in the UK or are considering having your family members apply for a Tier 4 dependant visa, please see the 'Bringing your Family' section of the website