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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 apply to stay in the UK on a student visa.

  • If you currently hold valid permission in an immigration category other than Tier 4, you will be able to switch into a student visa unless you have a status as a visitor, short-term student, parent of a Tier 4 child, seasonal worker, or have permission outside the immigration rules.
  • In order to make your application inside the UK there should not be a gap of more than 28 days between your current visa expiring and your new course start date. If the gap is more than 28 days, contact the International Student Office for further guidance.
  • When applying from within the UK you must make an application before your current visa expires. The date of your application is the date that you paid for and submitted your online application.
  • You can only apply to extend your Tier 4/student visa from inside the UK if you fulfil the academic progression requirements.
  • If you hold a current Tier 4/student visa sponsored by another institution, you must make a new student visa application, using the CAS issued by Cambridge, before commencing your studies. You will need to provide evidence of either a new student visa for Cambridge or proof of submitting an application for further permission to stay in the UK prior to your current visa expiring. If you provide the latter, you can start your course at your own risk whilst the decision on your application is pending. You are required to keep your College informed of the progress of your application. You should plan when to make your new student visa application, taking into consideration the completion of your current studies and the start date of your course at Cambridge. 
  • If you hold a current Tier 4 visa/student visa sponsored by the University of Cambridge and you are continuing onto a new course at Cambridge, you can start your new course on your current visa. You will need to make a new application for permission to stay in the UK within 6 weeks of the official start date of the course or prior to your current visa expiring, whichever is earlier. You will need to provide your College with proof you have submitted an application within the relevant timeframe.This only applies where you successfully completed the course for which you current visa has been granted.


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 and Commonwealth Office (FCO) manages the ATAS scheme. You must apply online to the FCO. The application is free and you can apply once you have a 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 FCO 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 FCO as a mandatory supporting document with your visa application.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

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 must enter the CAS reference number in the relevant section of your application for further leave to remain.   

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.

When, where and how to apply

When you make an application in the UK, you will not be able to travel overseas until you have received the decision and your new BRP. If you leave the UK whilst the decision is pending, UK Visas and Immigration advises the application can be withdrawn.This is the case whichever application service you select.

You will need to complete an online application form which includes paying the relevant fee.

Application timeframe and cost

The application processing time and cost varies depending on the service you opt for:

  • £494.20 if you use the standard service. The decision takes up to 8 weeks*. 
  • £994.20 if you use the priority service. The decision takes up to 5 days* after you have enrolled your biometrics. 
  • £1294.20 if you use the super priority service. The decision is made within 24 hours* after you have enrolled your biometrics.  

*Your new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), confirming your immigration permission, will be sent to the postal address you use in the application and can take up to 10 days after a decision on the application has been made.

*Please note that owing to coronavirus, UKVI services are currently more limited and processing timeframes for applications made in the UK may take longer than advertised. Priority and super priority services are suspended at this time.

Healthcare surcharge

Applicants are required to pay a mandatory immigration health surcharge as part of their visa application in order to access healthcare services in the UK. This is currently charged at £300 per year for the duration the visa will be valid. If the permission granted includes part of a year that is 6 months or less, the amount payable for that year would be £150.

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

If your visa application is not successful, you will automatically be refunded the immigration health surcharge (but not the visa application fee).

The immigration health surcharge is scheduled to increase from £300 to £470 per year from 27 October 2020.

Biometric appointment

As part of the online application you would normally book an appointment to have your passport scanned and enrol your biometrics within 45 days of submitting your online application. 

The Home Office uses a partner organisation, Sopra Steria, to manage the appointment system. Appointments are offered in different locations and the cost varies depending on where you select. Appointments are subject to availability and therefore may not be available at your preferred location. The nearest options in Cambridge are:

  • Core Service Point: appointments are free of charge during core operational hours but availability is often limited. The nearest Core Service Point is in Croydon, London.
  • Enhanced Service Point: appointments are in Cambridge Central Library in the Grand Arcade. There is a £70 charge to book an appointment. Appointments available outside of core hours may be available at an increased charge.

You are advised to upload any supporting documentation as part of your online application prior to your appointment, including the biographic information page of your passport. You are able to upload your supporting documents by using smartphone photographs; the image must be clear and less than 6MB. Images are also acceptable in black and white. You may be charged an additional fee to have supporting documents uploaded at the appointment. 

*Please note that owing to the coronavirus outbreak, UKVI is exceptionally using pre-existing biometrics for student visa applications in the UK where these have been enrolled before. If UKVI can reuse your biometrics, you will be emailed after you make your application with instructions on how to send them an image of your face and your supporting documents via an app. If biometrics cannot be reused, you will be emailed to book an appointment to provide biometric information.

Financial requirements

If you have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months on the date of application, you do not need to provide financial documentation to support your new student visa application.

If you are applying for a visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme, you will need to provide evidence of £2030 with your visa application, unless you are a national of a country that qualifies for differentiation arrangements..

If the above does not apply to your circumstances, and you do not hold a nationality that qualifies for differentiation arrangements, you will need to upload financial documents with your new visa application to show you have sufficient funds to cover your course fees as stated in your CAS plus £1015 in living costs for each month of your course up to a maximum of 9 months. You are advised to read through the guidance on the website for further information on the financial evidence required. This also includes a list of nationalities who are exempt from this requirement.



Other supporting documents

All applicants will need to provide a current passport. You may need to provide other supporting documents depending on your circumstances:

  • An ATAS certificate (if you require it for your course);
  • Police registration certificate (if you were required to register);
  • A letter of consent from your financial sponsor to continue your studies in the UK if you have received funding for your course fees and living costs in the last 12 months
  • If you are under 18 years old at the time of application, proof of parental consent and proof of relationship (a birth certificate or equivalent). A template letter will be provided by the University for proof of consent.

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. The exception is students who are applying for a visa to attend the ADTIS pre-sessional course only.

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.

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

Receiving your BRP and other visa responsibilities

Your visa will be issued in the form of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and sent by courier to the postal address you use in the application. 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 received your BRP, you should check to ensure the details are correct and include:

  • The correct start and end date (you should receive the length of the course plus 4 months for courses of more than 12 months or, length of course plus 2 months for courses between 6 and 12 months);
  • Either the University’s Sponsor License number (4NUV7KB58) or your CAS number.
  • Your correct personal details.

If you identify any errors on your BRP, these will need to be reported to UKVI. Contact the International Student Office for further guidance.

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

Some students will be required to update their police registration certificate when they have received their BRP.

You will need to cut up and send your old BRP to the Home Office. Your decision letter will give instructions, and an address, to do this. 

You should ensure you understand and comply with the conditions of your student visa and your responsibilities as a student sponsored under Tier 4 at Cambridge.

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.

Dependant family members

If you have dependant family members with you in the UK, read the section on dependants.

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

Further sources of information

You are advised to read the information on the student route 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.

Contact us

The University's International Student Office provides a visa advice service and can assist with queries in relation to your Tier 4 visa application.