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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:

  • To check if you can switch from your existing immigration permission into Tier 4 from inside the UK please visit the UKVI website You cannot switch from a dependant visa, visitor visa or a Tier 5 visa. Please check with the International Student Team if you think your situation would allow you to switch from inside the UK
  • If your current visa expires more than 28 days before the start date of your course, the Home Office requires you to leave the UK and apply for new entry clearance from overseas. This would normally be in your home country or in a country where you have immigration permission other than as a tourist. Further information on applying from overseas can be found here
  • 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 you are already in the UK under Tier 4, you can only apply to extend your visa from inside the UK if you have obtained the qualification for which your current immigration permission was granted. If you have not then you must apply for your visa from outside of 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. The University requires you to keep us informed of the progress of your application and to provide evidence to your College Tutorial Office to demonstrate that you made an in-time visa aplication.

The International Student Team provides workshops for students applying to extend their visa from inside the UK. 

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 and self-service will confirm if you require ATAS. Your self-service is also where you can view your ATAS Summary of Research and JACS codes (both of which are required for your ATAS application).

 The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) manages this scheme. You must apply online to the FCO. The application is free and you can apply when you have a conditional offer. You must also reapply for ATAS clearance if you need to extend your visa in order to complete your current course. You must receive an ATAS Certificate before receiving your CAS and applying for the Tier 4 visa. The FCO advises that it considers complete applications within 20 working days. You will receive your ATAS certificate via email. You must print this out and include it with your visa application supporting documents. 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.

REMEMBER:

  • 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

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 Postal 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.

The cost of submitting a visa application is:

  • £448 if you submit your documents via the standard postal service
  • £823 if you use the priority postal service
  • £948 if you use the premium service

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 a mandatory immigration health surcharge of £150 for every year of study 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.

The online payment procedure will calculate how much is to be charged based on the course dates entered in the visa application. 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.

Step 5: Financial documents

As part of your visa application 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 for the duration of leave awarded, up to a maximum of 9 months.

Please note that only Doctorate Extension Scheme applicants can benefit from a reduced amount for living costs of two months.

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 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.  Please note in particular that if you are relying on your own or your parent's/legal guardians funds, you will be required to show that the money has been in the account for a consecutive 28 day period (finishing on the date of the closing balance) and the financial evidence used must not be more than 31 days old.

The evidence you provide can be in UK Sterling (GBP) or another recognised world currency. If you use a currency that is not GBP, you must make sure that the amount meets the minimum amount required on the date of application using the currency converter https://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/

Avoiding a refusal on financial grounds

Failure to meet the Home Office financial requirements is the most common reason for visa application refusals. Common mistakes include:

  • Submitting bank statements that do not evidence that the funds have been in the account for a consecutive 28 day period.
  • Submitting financial evidence that is older than 31 days old
  • Submitting evidence where the money is not in cash funds (for example, shares, bonds, pay slips, credit cards)
  • Showing evidence of lower funds than the amount required
  • Claiming to have paid more fees than is recorded in the CAS
  • Using a parent's bank statements without providing an original birth certificate and a letter from the parent(s) confirming their relationship and giving permission for the applicant to use their funds to pay for their studies.
  • Using another relatives bank statement other than a parent.

Applicants from Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, India, Iran, Pakistan, the Phillipines and Sri Lanka should also check Appendix P of the Immigration Rules to ensure that their financial evidence is from an institution that the Home Office accepts.

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.

Documents not in English or Welsh

Any documents that you need to submit that are not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a full translation that can be independently verified by the Home Office. The translation must provide confirmation from the translator/translation company that it is an accurate translation of the original document; the date of the translation; the translator/an official of the translation company's full name and signature; and the translator/translation company's contact details.

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. The countries are:

Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong*, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan**, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, British National Overseas*

This means that you 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 are subject to the differentation arrangements.

* Where the applicant is a rightful holder of a passport which has been issued by the relevant competent authority and where the applicant is applying for entry clearance in the territory related to that passport

**Those who hold a passport issued by Taiwan that includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan.

Step 6: Other supporting documents and differentiation arrangements

You must submit all of the documents listed at the end of your application form. In addition to your financial evidence (see step 5) this is likely to include your passport, passport photographs, ATAS (if applicable) evidence of qualifications and your police registration certificate (if applicable).

English language ability

You do not need to incude any documents in support of your english language ability, even if this was a condition of your offer, unless you have been issued a CAS for attendance at the ADTIS course. Instead you should answer 'yes' to the question in the application form 'If you are studying at a higher education institution, have they assessed that you meet the English language requirement or that you are a gifted student'. This statement will also be present in your CAS.

If you have been issued a CAS solely for attendance on ADTIS pre-sessional course you will need to submit a Secure English Language Test (SELT) which shows that you are at level CEFR B1 in all four language components.

Evidence of Qualifications

The Home Office requires you to include in your visa application the original version of any documents or certificates listed in your CAS. For most students this will mean submitting their original degree certificate or transcript for a previous course. If you are unable to do this you must contact the International Student Team

If you are a current PhD student who is having to submit a visa application because you need more time to complete your course, it is likely that your CAS will say that your evidence for offer is based on your academic progress to date. This means that you do not need to submit any evidence of your previous qualifications.

Documents not in English or Welsh

Any documents that you need to submit that are not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a full translation that can be independently verified by the Home Office. The translation must provide confirmation from the translator/translation company that it is an accurate translation of the original document; the date of the translation; the translator/an official of the translation company's full name and signature; and the translator/translation company's contact details.

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. The countries are:

Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong*, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan**, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, British National Overseas*

This means that you 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 are subject to the differentation arrangements.

* Where the applicant is a rightful holder of a passport which has been issued by the relevant competent authority and where the applicant is applying for entry clearance in the territory related to that passport

**Those who hold a passport issued by Taiwan that includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan.

Step 7: 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 Premium Customer Service Centre, 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.

Your application will be processed once your biometrics have been taken. Should a caseworker require any further information, you will be contacted via email or telelphone and possibly asked to attend an in-person appointment.

Step 8: Receiving your BRP and other Tier 4 responsibilities

Your leave will be issued in the form of a BRP card as opposed to a visa vignette in your passport and sent to you in the post

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 and refer the our Tier 4 issues webpage

Once you have received your BRP you must take this to your College Tutorial Office so that a copy can be uploaded onto your student record.

Information on your responsibilities whilst in the UK under Tier 4 including informing the police of your new period of leave and restrictions around working can be found here.

 

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 the University has to report this change to the Home Office and you continue to be subject to the Tier 4 responsibilities until you have provided the evidence of your new visa.

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

It is your responsibility to make sure you understand and meet the UK immigration requirements. Further information on the Tier 4 application process is available from:

UK Council for International Student Affrairs (UKCISA)

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. 

Dependant family members

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

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 Tier 4 dependants section of the website.