skip to content

International Students


Students starting their course early because their studies include a pre-sessional course need to take extra precautions to ensure they have the correct visa in place before the pre-sessional course begins. If you cannot present a valid visa upon arrival at Cambridge, you will not be permitted to start the pre-sessional course.

A 'pre-sessional' course might include the Academic Development and Training for International Students (ADTIS) programme offered by the Language Centre, or an MPhil programme that begins with a Preparatory Mathematics Course in September.

Steps to take to ensure your visa is issued in time

The Tier 4 visa for such courses will almost always cover the full course, as the pre-sessional is considered part of the main programme. Your CAS cannot be issued until you have met all of the conditions of your offer, and after your admission has been confirmed. It is therefore important to consider the following:

  • You cannot start your course on a visa issued for another institution.
  • Aim to meet all of the conditions of your offer as early as possible.
  • Apply for ATAS clearance if required. This process takes 20-30 working days and you can apply when you have a conditional offer.
  • Prepare for your visa application early. You can submit your application as soon as you receive your CAS if you have the necessary documents prepared. We often find students who could have applied for the visa are prevented from doing so because they have not prepared the required financial documentation in advance.
  • Do not book your flights to the UK - or any other travel - until you have obtained your Tier 4 visa.
  • Look at the Tier 4 processing times for applications made in your country. Have you allowed enough time? Many countries now provide a priority Tier 4 service for an additional fee - please check your visa application centre to see if this is on offer.

Additional Information for Academic Development and Training for International Students (ADTIS)

The information below is for those applicants who will be undertaking the Academic Development and Training for International Students Pre-Sessional course in 2019.

  • The earliest date that you can submit a visa application is 13 May 2019  (three months before the pre-sessional course starts).
  • We recommend that you try to meet all of the conditions of your offer as early as possible so that we are able to issue one CAS for both the ADTIS pre-sessional course and main course of study. If you are issued one CAS to cover both the pre-sessional and your main course, you do not need to submit any evidence of English language proficiency with your visa application. In the relevant section of the visa application form you should select 'Your sponsor is a Higher Education Institution and has made its own assessment of your English language ability'.
  • If you believe that you cannot meet your conditions early enough to obtain your visa and arrive in time for the ADTIS pre-sessional course then it may be possible, in exceptional circumstances, for us to issue you one CAS for the ADTIS pre-sessional programme (an ‘ADTIS-Only CAS’), and then later, once you have met ALL the conditions of your offer, for us to issue you with another CAS for the main course of study. If you receive a CAS for the ADTIS pre-sessional course only, you are required to have a Secure English Language Test (SELT) showing that you are at level CEFR B1 in all four language components and will need to submit this document with your visa application.

When to contact the International Student Office

Contact the International Student Office in the following circumstances:

  • You believe you will not meet your conditions before the pre-sessional begins. We are not directly involved in the admissions process but can discuss your options with you and the Graduate Admissions Office.
  • You need advice about your Tier 4 application - for instance on the financial requirements or if you hold a Tier 4 visa for a different institution and need information about how to submit your Cambridge Tier 4 application from inside the UK.
  • You hold a non-Tier 4 visa and would like to check whether you can study on that visa.