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International Students


The following guidance is provided to help you prepare a student visa application for Cambridge from inside the UK (applying for ‘permission to stay’). If you are already in the UK on a Tier 4/student visa you may be able to make your student visa application from inside the UK - this is also referred to as extending your student visa. If you hold a UK visa in certain other categories, you may be able to apply to switch to a student visa from inside the UK.

  • It is not possible to apply for a student visa in the UK if you have a status as a visitor, short-term student, parent of a Tier 4/student child, seasonal worker, domestic worker or have permission outside the immigration rules.
  • You can only apply to extend your current Tier 4/student visa from inside the UK if you fulfil the academic progression requirements.
  • 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 your current visa expires more than 28 days prior to your new course start date, contact the International Student Office for further guidance.
  • 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, providing it will still be valid at that time. You will need to make a new application for further 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 your current visa has been granted.
  • When applying from within the UK you must make an application before your current visa expires (or earlier if you are starting a new course as explained in the information above). The date of your application is the date that you paid for and submitted your online application.
Obtain ATAS 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 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 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 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 are not required to provide a physical copy of your CAS when you apply for your student visa but 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 Higer Education Provider with a track record of compliance. You will be asked this in the visa application. 

How to apply and the application time frame

You will need to 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.

The application can be accessed via the website. As part of the application you will need to confirm your identity. Most applicants applying in the UK will be able to do this using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app. Once you have created a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account, you will be asked to download the app to a smart phone. You will need either an iPhone 7 or newer or an Android phone. The app will be used to confirm your identity by scanning your BRP, or if you are an EEA or Swiss national by scanning your passport. Once you have used the app, you can continue the application on your computer or another device. 

If you use the app, you will not need to book an appointment to enrol your biometrics.

If you cannot use the app

In certain circumstances you may not be able to use the app. For example:

  • you currently only hold a digital status and therefore do not have a valid BRP;
  • you are applying together with your family which includes children under 18 years old;
  • the app cannot read your BRP.  

If you are unable to use the app, you will need book an appointment to enrol biometrics at a UKVCAS Centre. The application will provide instructions on how to do this if applicable. Appointments are subject to availability. The nearest location is in Cambridge Central Library in the Grand Arcade.

Application processing times

The application processing time varies depending on the service you opt for and whether you use the 'UK Immigration: ID Check' app to apply:

  • If you use the standard service and use the app, the decision takes up to 8 weeks.
  • If you use the priority service and use the app, the decision takes up to 5 days.

If you do not use the app, the periods above are calculated from the date you attend a biometric appointment. 

Timeframes can vary and are not guaranteed. The timeframes are for a decision only and do not include the time it takes for your BRP to be delivered, where this is issued (see the 'Decision' section). 

When you make an application in the UK, you should not travel overseas until you have reached a decision. If you leave the UK while the decision is pending, UKVI advises the application could be withdrawn. 

Healthcare surcharge

You will need to pay a healthcare surcharge (called the 'immigration health surcharge' or IHS) as part of your permission to stay application in order to access healthcare services in the UK. Payment is made online as part of the visa application. 

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 your visa. 

Financial requirements

If you have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months on the date of your permission to stay application, you do not need to provide evidence of finances as supporting documentation. You must be applying in the UK. The Home Office advises that the requirement is to have held your current visa for at least 12 months at the point of application, rather than having been based in the UK for the full period. However, if you have been outside the UK for a significant part of the previous 12 months, and the Home Office gives an example of at least 3 months, you may be asked to provide evidence you meet the financial requirements during the application process. 

If the above does not apply to your circumstances, you are required to hold sufficient funds to cover 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. 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 subject to differentiation arrangements where financial documentation does not need to be submitted with the visa application but funds should be held in the manner required and UKVI reserves the right to request the evidence.

Other supporting documents

All applicants will need to enter the details of their current passport. You may need to provide other supporting documents depending on your circumstances:

  • An ATAS certificate (if you require it for your course);
  • A letter of consent from your financial sponsor to continue your studies in the UK if, in the last 12 months before the date of application, you have completed a course of studies in the UK for which you received funding from a Government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and living costs.
  • 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.

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) with a track record of compliance 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. 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.


You will receive an email confirming the outcome of your application.

If you use the app to make your application, your new visa will be granted as a digital status, also called an eVisa.

Only certain nationalities will be issued a new Biometric Resident Permit (BRP). Nationals of these countries will likely need to show the BRP in order to enter the UK if you travel overseas so are advised to wait until this is received before making any travel plans. UKVI advises it can take up to 10 days after receiving the decision on the application for the BRP to arrive. The BRP will be sent by courier to the postal address you use in the application.

If you cannot use the app as part of the application, and need to enrol your biometrics at an appointment, you will also be issued a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

Nationals of countries who are only issued with an eVisa will not be required to show hardcopy evidence of their permission when travelling to the UK. Border Force can check the status on their systems at immigration control. Some nationalities are able to use the eGates to enter the UK. 

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.

Checking your new visa

Once you have received the decision, you should check your new visa 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 decision, you should notify the International Student Office who will provide instructions on how to provide evidence of your status.

Other responsibilities

Your decision email, or the letter you receive with a new BRP (if applicable), will provide instructions on what you should do with your previous BRP if you held one.  

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


Dependant family members

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


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.

The International Student Office has created a guidance document to assist you with the visa application from within the UK. 

Contact us

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