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International Students

 

The following guidance is provided to help you prepare your Tier 4 visa application for Cambridge from outside the UK (entry clearance):

 

Obtain ATAS Clearance

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. Graduate students who are required to apply for ATAS will have it 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 this scheme. You must apply online to the FCO. The application is free and you can apply when you have a conditional offer. You will be sent the ATAS certificate via email and must have received it prior to being issued your CAS and applying for the Tier 4 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 your course requires ATAS clearance, you must submit the certificate issued by the FCO with your visa application as a mandatory supporting document.

CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)

Your Tier 4 visa application must be supported with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). The Graduate Admissions Office issues CAS for new graduate students and graduate 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 the Tier 4 visa application.   

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 sent the 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 Tier 4 visa before you travel to the UK and commence your studies at Cambridge. The earliest you can apply for your visa is 3 months prior to your course start date. The date of application is the day you submit the online application and pay the visa application fee. 

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) advertises that applications using the standard service aim to be processed 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 process the application in 5 working days. Some countries also offer a super priority 24 hour service for a decision.  

Where: You should apply for your Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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.The application provides instructions on how to do this. 

In most countries you will also submit your passport during the biometrics appointment. Applicants in the USA, New Zealand and certain cities in Australia send their passport to the visa application centre after they have enrolled their biometrics. The address will be provided as part of the online application. 

The International Student Office has prepared a guidance document on completing the Tier 4 entry clearance application.

Some UK Visa Application Centres are temporarily closed owing to the coronavirus outbreak. To check on the status of a visa application centre in particular country, visit VFS Global or, for Africa, Europe and some countries in the Middle East, TSLcontact. Priority and super priority application services may also be suspended at this time.

Confirm BRP collection location 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 (‘ACL’) in the relevant section of your visa application. New students starting in Michaelmas Term 2020 will be sent this code 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 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 are advised to collect their BRP from the Post Office.

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 currently charged at £300 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 £150. Any Tier 4 dependant will also be required to pay the surcharge.

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).

The immigration health surcharge is scheduled to increase from £300 to £470 per year for visa applications made from 1 October 2020.

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 being given a chest x-ray and, if clear, you will be given a certificate which is valid for 6 months and must be submitted with 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 documents

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 £1015 in living costs for each month of your course up to a maximum of 9 months.

You must ensure that your financial documentation meets the specific Tier 4 requirements. You are advised to use our Tier 4 Maintenance Checker tool to help determine the financial evidence you require as part of your visa application based on 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 it at the required level for a consecutive 28 day period (finishing on the date of the closing balance) and the financial evidence used must not be more than 31 days old.

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.

Applicants from Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, India, Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka should also check Appendix P of the Immigration Rules to ensure that their financial evidence is from a Home Office approved financial institution.

Tier 4 policy outlines the specific documents required for visa application purposes including the types of acceptable financial evidence and the definition of an official financial sponsor. It is important you read the Tier 4 Policy Guidance in good time to ensure you fully understand the requirements and make the necessary preparations.

Please note: The financial undertaking you sign as part of the conditions of your admission to the University is different to the financial requirements of the Home Office. 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 Tier 4 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 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 Tier 4 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.

Nationals subject to differentiation arrangements

If you are a national of one of the following countries you are subject to differentiation arrangements under Tier 4:

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*

This means that nationals of these countries do not need to submit financial evidence or qualifications as supporting documents with their visa application. However as UK Visas and Immigration reserves the right to request these documents during the consideration process you should make sure you have them in the manner required under Tier 4 at the point of making your visa application.

As the University of Cambridge is participating in a Tier 4 visa pilot scheme, students applying for a visa prior to 1 October 2020 to undertake a Masters course of 13 months or less are also subject to the differentiation arrangements.

* Where the applicant is a rightful holder of a passport which has been issued by the relevant competent authority.

**Those who hold a passport issued by Taiwan that includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan

Other supporting documents

In addition to the financial evidence, you may need to provide a number of 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 your passport. In addition, you may need to submit a TB certificate (if applicable), ATAS certificate (if your course requires it), evidence of the qualifications outlined on your CAS (e.g. academic transcript/degree certificate) and proof of parental consent if you are under 18. These documents should be prepared prior to making the visa 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. The exception is students who are applying for a visa to attend the ADTIS pre-sessional course only.

In the 'English language assessment' section of the visa application form, you will be asked to confirm that you are coming to study at a Higher Education Institution (HEI) and that your CAS confirms your English language ability was assessed by your institution.

Evidence of qualifications

You are required to have documentary evidence for any qualifications listed on your CAS. You must provide either a certificate or transcript confirming the award. If you do not have official documents, it is acceptable to use a print out of the qualification or transcript from the awarding body's online checking service which clearly shows your name, the title of award, the date of award and the name of the awarding body. Please note that provisional certificates are not acceptable. If you are unable to provide the required document, you should contact the International Student Office for further advice prior to submitting your visa application.

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.

Nationals subject to differentiation arrangements

If you are a national of one of the following countries you are subject to differentiation arrangements under Tier 4:

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*

This means nationals of these countries do not need to submit financial evidence or qualifications as supporting documents with their visa application. However as UK Visas and Immigration reserves the right to request these documents during the consideration process you should make sure you have them in the manner required under Tier 4 at the point of making your visa application. Other supporting documents if applicable, such as ATAS certificate or TB clearance certificate, would need to be submitted. 

As the University of Cambridge is participating in a Tier 4 visa pilot scheme, students applying for a visa prior to 1 October 2020 to undertake a Masters course of 13 months or less are also subject to the differentiation arrangements.

* Where the applicant is a rightful holder of a passport which has been issued by the relevant competent authority.

**Those who hold a passport issued by Taiwan that includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan

Attend a visa application centre

You will book an appointment at a visa application centre as part of the online application. At the appointment you will enrol your biometrics (have your fingerprints and a facial image taken) and submit your passport. 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 there is usually an additional fee to use this.

After applying online, applicants in the USA, New Zealand and certain cities in Australia attend a biometrics appointment and, following this, must send their passport to the visa application centre within 5 days. Other documents may need to be included if not uploaded as part of the application and further information should be provided when you complete the online application if applicable.

When you attend the visa application centre, you may be asked to attend a 'credibility interview'. If selected, this will take place via a video link with a visa officer based in the UK. This takes about 10 to 15 minutes. 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. 

Only after you have enrolled your biometrics will your application be assessed and a decision made. 

Some UK Visa Application Centres are temporarily closed owing to the coronavirus outbreak. To check on the status of a visa application centre in particular country, visit VFS Global or, for Africa, Europe and some countries in the Middle East, TSLcontact.

Entry vignette

Students granted a Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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 as a Tier 4 student 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 Tier 4 even if the Tier 4 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.
• If you are unable to arrive in the UK prior to the vignette expiring, for example because of any travel restrictions, contact the International Student Office.

Your College will provide guidance on arrangements for arriving in Cambridge. You may need to allow for a possible period of 'self-isolation' after arrival in the UK depending on where you are coming from. Further information is outlined on the Government website and a list of the countries exempt is being kept up to date in the information on travel corridors.

 

 

 

Collect your BRP and other Tier 4 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 need to scan 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).

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 Tier 4 visa and your responsibilities as a student sponsored under Tier 4 at Cambridge.

 

Guidance from the International Student Office

The University's International Student Office can provide the following support for your Tier 4 visa application:

a visa advice service to assist with queries in relation to your Tier 4 visa application.

a guidance document on completing the Tier 4 entry clearance application.

Please note that we are only able to advise by email at this time. When you email please do quote your application number or student reference number within your message.

 

Further sources of information

You are advised to read the Tier 4 information on the UK Visas and Immigration website, including the Tier 4 Policy Guidance, prior to applying for your Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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 Tier 4 dependants.