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International Students

 

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

If you are applying on a EEA and 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 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 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). 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.

A CAS can only be used for one visa application. If your visa application is refused, you must request a new CAS. This will only be issued upon receipt of your full refusal notice and if the University is satisfied you will be able to meet the requirements for a new visa application.

When, where and how to apply

When: You must apply for 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 is available in most countries at additional cost and aims to make a decision on the application in 5 working days. Some countries also offer a super priority 24 hour service for a decision. Advertised decision timeframes are from when you enrol biometrics. 

Where: You should 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. The cost of a standard student visa application is currently £348. Priority and super priority services may be available at a higher cost. 

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. 

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 USANew Zealand and certain cities in Australia will book to enrol biometrics at a local immigration centre as part of their application and send their passport to a UK visa application hub after attending the appointment. The address will be provided as part of the online application. 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.

Most students are not interviewed as part of the visa application process. However, it is possible to be asked to have a ‘credibility interview’. If requested, the questions will focus on your chosen course of study, how you will pay for your course, your previous immigration history 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 wish to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) after you arrive in the UK. You will be able to collect your BRP from the University but in order to do this, you must enter a particular code by selecting ‘collect from an alternative location’ in the relevant section of your visa application. New students starting in Michaelmas Term 2021 will be sent the Alternative Collection Location (ACL) code for the University by email from the International Student Office after you have been issued your CAS. If you do not use this code in your application, you will need to collect your BRP from a designated local Post Office.

If you use the ACL code in your application, you will be able to collect your BRP at the University from early October.

As the MBA, MFin and PGCE programmes have an earlier start date, students should collect their BRP from the Post Office prior to starting studies.

 

Healthcare surcharge

Applicants coming to the UK for 6 months or longer will be required to pay a mandatory immigration health surcharge in order to access healthcare services in the UK. This is charged at £470 per year for the duration the visa will be granted. If the permission granted includes part of a year that is 6 months or less, the amount payable for that year would be £235.

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

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

You will pay the surcharge for the full duration of the visa. Payment is made online as part of the visa application. The amount charged is calculated based on the course start and end dates inputted into the application form and takes into consideration the short post-study period you will be granted on the end of the visa.

If your visa application is not successful, you will automatically be 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 uploading 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, or have been, resident 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, 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 in particular 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 your 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 please make sure that the amount meets the minimum level requirements on the date of application using the OANDA currency converter.

You are advised to upload any required supporting documents to your online 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.

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 visa application refusals. Common mistakes include:

  • Showing evidence of lower funds than the amount required.
  • Submitting bank statements that do not evidence that 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 you need to submit that are not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a fully certified translation by a professional translator/translation company. 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.

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, Macau SAR, 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 may need to provide other documents in support of your application. What you need to submit depends on your course, your nationality and where you are applying.

  • You will need to provide a current passport. 
  • You may need to submit a TB certificate (if applicable).
  • 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).

You are advised to upload any supporting documents to your online application prior to attending your appointment. The Visa Application Centres offer a document scanning service but this is usually an additional fee to use this.

Qualification evidence

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

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 time-limited entry vignette. A vignette is a sticker placed in your passport which will enable you to enter the UK.

The entry vignette will be valid:
• from 7 days before your planned date of travel to the UK, as stated in your visa application form*; OR
• from the date of issue if granted after the intended date of travel as stated on the visa application form.

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

The entry vignette is normally issued for a 30 day period but owing to circumstances around the coronavirus outbreak, UK Visas and Immigration is currently issuing the vignette for a period of 90 days.

You will also receive a decision letter which outlines the conditions of your immigration leave. 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. They will then issue instructions on how to correct the error.

If your visa application is refused, inform the International Student Office immediately and provide a copy of the decision letter. This office will advise you of your options. Please note that the University will not issue another CAS to support a new application until evidence is provided that any issues identified in the refusal notice have been resolved.

 

Coming to Cambridge

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 to activate your immigration permission as a student prior to commencing studies.
• If you are unable to arrive in the UK prior to the vignette expiring, contact the International Student Office.

Your College will provide guidance on arrangements for arriving in Cambridge. You may need to allow for a period of quarantine after arrival in the UK depending on where you are coming from. Read the information on Travelling to the UK

 

 

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 a scan of your passport, entry vignette and BRP before you commence your studies. If your entry vignette is not stamped by Border Force you will also need to provide evidence of your flight (e.g. flight ticket or boarding pass). You will be provided with instructions on this by your College prior to commencing your studies.

Some students will be required to register with the police after they have collected their BRP.

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.

 

Webinars and further guidance from the International Student Office

The University's International Student Office can provide the following support for your student visa application:

a visa advice service to assist with queries in relation to your student visa application.

a guidance document on completing the student visa entry clearance application.

Please note that we are unable to advise by telephone. When you email please do quote your application number or student reference number within your message.

Webinars on applying for a student visa from outside the UK will also be hosted in June and July. You can register to join a webinar by clicking below on your preferred date relevant to your level of study. Please provide your full first and last name, and please note these webinars are provided for University of Cambridge offer holders only. After you have registered, you will be sent the link to access the webinar a few days before.

Undergraduate

Thursday 24 June 2021 - NOW FULL 

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Thursday 15 July 2021 

Postgraduate

Tuesday 15 June 2021 - NOW FULL 

Wednesday 23rd June 2021

Tuesday 29 June 2021 - NOW FULL 

Thursday 8 July 2021

Tuesday 20 July 2021 

The links will take you to an external booking platform, Eventbrite.

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

Further 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

If you are considering bringing dependant family members with you to the UK, read the section on dependants.

Information about visas for dependant family members is currently being updated and information will be available shortly.