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International Students


The following guidance is provided to help you prepare your student visa application from outside the UK (applying for entry clearance). It is intended for students of the University of Cambridge. 

You must wait for your student visa to be issued before using this visa to travel to the UK.

If you are applying on a EEA or Swiss passport read the information on Applying for a student visa as an EEA or Swiss National (applying outside the UK).

Obtain ATAS Clearance if required

Most students undertaking a PhD-level research degree or Masters course in certain science and technology subjects require an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance certificate to support their visa application. Students who hold an EEA or Swiss nationality or one of the following nationalities are exempt from this requirement: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA, Singapore, Japan, South Korea.

Postgraduate students who are required to apply for ATAS will have this included as a condition of offer and will be able to view an ATAS summary of research and the course CAH3 code, required for the ATAS application, in their applicant self-service. Undergraduate students undertaking an integrated Masters which requires ATAS clearance will receive instructions from the International Student Office by email. Current students should contact the International Student Office.

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) manages the ATAS scheme. You must apply online to the FCDO. The application is free and you can apply once you receive your ATAS research statement. You will be sent the ATAS certificate via email and must have received it prior to being issued your CAS and applying for the student visa. The FCDO advises that it considers complete applications within 20 working days but this can be extended to 30 working days or more during peak periods.

If you require ATAS clearance for your course, you must upload the certificate issued by the FCDO with your visa application as a mandatory supporting document.

CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)

Your student visa application must be supported with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This confirms the University wishes to sponsor your student visa. It is an electronic record outlining the information about you and your study at Cambridge. 

The Postgraduate Admissions Office issues CAS for new postgraduate students and postgraduate students continuing to a new course. The International Student Office issues all other CAS. Your CAS Statement will be sent to you by email. You are not required to provide a physical copy of your CAS when you apply for your student visa. You must enter the CAS reference number in the relevant section of the online application form.  

The 'Your CAS Explained document' outlines the information that is included in the CAS Statement. When you receive your CAS, check it against this document. You should make sure that all of the details in your CAS Statement are correct and let the office who issued your CAS know if you identify any errors. These will need to be corrected prior to you making your visa application.

For visa purposes, the University is a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance. You will be asked this in the visa application. 

A CAS can only be used for one visa application. If your visa application is refused, you must inform the International Student Office urgently and provide a copy of the decision letter. This office will advise on your options. You would require a new CAS to support a further visa application. This would only be issued if the University is satisfied you will be able to meet the requirements for this new application. You would need to provide relevant evidence to show any issues identified in the decision letter can be resolved.   

When, where and how to apply

When: You must apply for and obtain your student visa before you travel to the UK and commence your studies at Cambridge. You can only submit and pay for your application once you have been issued your CAS.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) advises that decisions on applications using the standard service aim to be made in 15 working days but the timeframe can vary depending on when and where you make your application, particularly in the peak period between July - September. A priority service may be available at additional cost and aims to make a decision on the application in 5 working days. Some countries may also offer a super priority 24 hour service for a decision. These services should not be relied upon in planning when to make your student visa application. Advertised decision timeframes are from when you enrol biometrics. 

Where: You are required to apply for your student visa in your country of nationality or country of residence (where you have permission to live other than as a visitor).

How: You will first complete an online application form which includes paying the relevant fee. Make sure you are aware of the costs associated with applying for a student visa

As part of the online application, you should upload any supporting documents and book an appointment to enrol your biometrics (have fingerprints and a facial image taken).The application provides instructions on how to do this. You are advised to upload any required supporting documents to your application prior to attending your appointment. The Visa Application Centres offer a document scanning service but there is usually an additional fee to use this. 

In most countries your appointment will be at a UK Visa Application Centre and you will submit your passport when you attend.

Applicants in the USA, will book to enrol biometrics at an USCIS Application Support Centre and send their passport to the UKVI Scanning Hub in New York after attending the appointment. Alternatively, an appointment can be booked at a UK Premium Application Centre to enrol biometrics and submit your passport at the same time, but there is an additional cost for this. For applicants who hold EEA or Swiss nationality, the process is different.

The International Student Office has produced a guidance document to assist you with the online student visa entry clearance application form.

The majority of students are not interviewed as part of the visa application process. However, it is possible to be asked to attend a ‘credibility interview’ after you have applied. This request would be sent by email from UKVI after you have enrolled your biometrics. The questions at interview usually focus on study history, employment history if applicable, the chosen course of study in the UK, funding for the course and reasons for studying in the UK. The interview will be conducted in English and may be via video link or in person.

Confirm BRP collection point in visa application

The Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) will be your visa document and evidence of your immigration permission, which you will collect once you arrive in the UK.

As part of the visa application you will need to confirm where you will collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) after you arrive in the UK. Students starting in Michaelmas Term will have the option of collecting the BRP from the University by entering an ACL code in the relevant section of the application form. Please find details on the 'Collecting your BRP' page. Students starting in Lent and Easter terms should select to collect their BRP from the Post Office in their visa application. 

Healthcare surcharge

You will need to pay a healthcare surcharge (called the 'immigration health surcharge' or IHS) as part of your student visa application in order to access public healthcare services in the UK.  

The amount charged is based on the duration of the visa to be issued, taking into consideration your course dates and the short post-study period granted on the end of the visa. If your visa application is not successful, you will be automatically refunded the immigration health surcharge (but not the visa application fee). 

TB Screening

You will need to have a Tuberculosis (TB) test if you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months and have lived for at least 6 months, in the period immediately preceding your visa application, in one of the countries specified by UK Visas and Immigration on their website

You must be tested at a clinic that has been approved by UK Visas and Immigration. The test will involve having a chest x-ray and, if clear, you will be given a certificate which is valid for 6 months and must be uploaded as a supporting document to your visa application.

Please note that the requirement to have this test, and provide evidence with your visa application, is dependent on where you are resident, or have been resident in the last 6 months, and not on your nationality.

You do not need a TB certificate if you have lived for at least 6 months in a country where TB screening is not required by the UK, and you have not been away from that country for more than 6 months.

Financial requirements

As part of your visa application you must be able to prove that you have sufficient funds to cover your course fees, as stated in your CAS, plus £1023 in living costs for each month of your course, up to a maximum of 9 months. Financial evidence must be provided as supporting documentation with your visa application, unless you qualify for differentiation arrangements as outlined below.

You must ensure that your financial evidence meets the specific student visa application requirements. We advise using our financial evidence checker tool to understand the requirements for your circumstances.

Please note that if you are using your own or your parent's/legal guardian's funds, you will be required to have held the required amount for a minimum consecutive 28 day period (finishing on the date of the closing balance) and the financial evidence must not be more than 31 days old on the date you submit your visa application.

You can have evidence of funds in UK Sterling (GBP) or in another recognised world currency. If the money is not in GBP, make sure that the amount meets the minimum level requirements on the date of application using the OANDA currency converter. There is an exception if you are using the Syrian Pound or Iranian Rial, in which case the FCDO Consular Exchange Rate should be used to check the currency conversion rather than OANDA. 

Please note: The financial undertaking you sign as part of the conditions of your admission to the University is different to the financial requirements for your visa application. You cannot submit this form as evidence that you have the required funds available to you.

Avoiding a refusal on financial grounds

Failure to meet the financial requirements is the most common reason for a student visa application refusal. Mistakes include:

  • Showing evidence of lower funds than the amount required.
  • Submitting bank statements that do not provide evidence the funds have been in the account for a minimum consecutive 28 day period.
  • Submitting financial evidence from a bank 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).
  • Using a parent(s) bank statements without providing a 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 in the UK.
  • Using another relative's bank statement other than a parent.

Date of Application
The date of application is the date you pay the visa application fee. This means you will need to ensure your financial documentation meets the specific visa requirements on this date.

Documents not in English or Welsh

Any documents not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a fully certified translation by a professional translator or translation company.

Differentiation arrangements 

If you are a national of one of the following countries you qualify for differentiation arrangements for your student visa application:

Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, The Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Macao, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, British National Overseas, plus EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals.

This means you do not need to provide any financial evidence with your application. You must still have the required funds in the manner specified and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) reserves the right to request this evidence during the application process. 

Other supporting documents

You will need to submit a valid passport as part of your visa application. You may need to provide other supporting documents depending on your circumstances:

  • You may need to submit a TB certificate (if applicable).
  • You should upload an ATAS certificate if you require it for your course.
  • If you are under 18 years old at the time of application, you will need to provide proof of parental consent and proof of relationship (a birth certificate or equivalent). A form will be provided by the University for your parent/s to complete and should be used as evidence of parental consent with the visa application.

UKVI reserves the right to contact you during the application process to request additional information if required. Such requests would usually be sent by email after you have attended your appointment. If you are contacted with a request for additional information or documentation and would like to check what is required, contact the International Student Office

Qualification evidence

Your CAS will state any qualifications used as part of the assessment for your admission to your course. In accordance with student visa policy, as the University is a Higher Education Provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance and you will be studying at degree level, you are not required to provide evidence of your qualifications with your application.

English language ability

No evidence of English language ability needs to be submitted as part of the visa application, even if this was a condition of your offer to study at Cambridge. Your CAS will confirm that you are either a national of a majority English speaking country (as defined by UK Visas and Immigration) or the University, as a Higher Education Provider, has assessed your English language ability and it is at the required level.

Entry vignette

Students granted a student visa for 6 months or more will initially be issued with a 90-day entry vignette. A vignette is a sticker placed in your passport which will enable you to enter the UK.

The earliest the vignette will be valid is one month prior to the start date of your course, in line with student visa policy.

You will also receive a decision letter which outlines the conditions of your immigration leave. You may receive the decision letter with your passport, or it may be sent to you separately in an email. You will need to bring this letter with you to the UK.

Check that the information on the entry vignette and in the decision letter is correct. If you identify any errors, contact the Visa Application Centre before you travel for instructions on how this can be corrected. 

Travel to the UK

You cannot travel to the UK to commence your studies until the visa application process has been completed and you have the entry vignette in your passport.

You must enter the UK within the validity of the entry vignette. Please note you cannot enter on your student immigration permission before the ‘valid from’ date on your entry vignette. In addition, you cannot enter the UK earlier as a standard visitor (tourist) and then 'switch' inside the UK to your student visa even if the entry vignette is in your passport. If you enter the UK as a visitor, you will need to leave the UK and re-enter within the validity of your entry vignette to activate your immigration permission as a student prior to commencing studies.

You are expected to obtain your visa and enter the UK in time for the start of your course. Where circumstances mean this is not possible, for example owing to a visa delay, there is a latest start date by which you will need to arrive. This date will vary depending on your course and will be stated in your CAS. If you are unable to arrive in time, the University will be required to withdraw its visa sponsorship. If your visa has already been granted, the visa will then be curtailed. It is not possible to use the same visa to start your course in a different term or academic year. UKVI advises that visa fees, including the immigration health surcharge, are not refundable in these circumstances.

Collect your BRP and other visa responsibilities

Once you arrive in Cambridge, you will need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). The BRP is a credit-card sized document which contains your personal and biometric information and will confirm your immigration permission in the UK.

Once you have collected your BRP, check to ensure the details are correct. If you identify an error on your BRP after arrival in the UK, contact the International Student Office who will advise on the process for correction.

Your College will require you to provide your passport, entry vignette and BRP for scanning before you commence your studies. If Border Force does not stamp your entry vignette you will also need to provide evidence of your flight (e.g. flight ticket or boarding pass). Your College will provide you with instructions on this prior to commencing your studies.

You should ensure you understand and comply with the conditions of your student visa and your responsibilities as a student with visa sponsorship at Cambridge.

Length of visa granted

Your visa will be granted for the course duration as outlined in your CAS plus a post-study period as outlined below:

  • the length of your course plus four months for undergraduate and PhD courses;
  • the length of your course plus two months for Masters courses of 12 months or less;
  • the length of your course plus four months for Masters courses lasting 12 months or more;
  • the length of your course plus two months for other courses lasting less than 12 months, e.g. exchange students. 
Further sources of information

Visa advice service

The International Student Office provides a visa advice service to assist with queries in relation to applying for a student visa. They also produce a guidance document on completing the student visa entry clearance application.

Other sources of information

You are advised to read the information on the UK Visas and Immigration website, prior to applying for your visa. It is your responsibility to ensure you understand and meet the UK immigration requirements.

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides information on applying for a student visa from outside the UK.

Dependant family members

Read the information on eligibilty for a dependant visa if you intend to come to Cambridge with family.