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Apply for a Student route (formerly tier 4) visa

Check if you need a Student route (formerly tier 4) visa to study in the UK and how to apply

What you need to know

Most international students need a Student route (formerly tier 4) visa to study in the UK.

It allows you to study on a course that is longer than six months and it's the most common student visa.

Make sure that you read this information about how to apply for a Student route visa carefully.

Your visa will be refused if your application is not completed correctly.

Confused about your application?

Our visa advisors can help you with any aspect of your application, visas, and immigration.

Contact our team

Before you apply

All students who apply for a Student route visa under the sponsorship of Middlesex University must agree to our conditions of Student Route sponsorship.

Check if you need a visa

If you're an EU or EEA national who was resident in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 and are now considering studying with us, you'll need to ensure that you have Settled or Pre-settled Status to continue living, working and/or studying in the UK after 30 June 2021.

If you are an EU national who does not have settled or pre-settled status or are a national of any other country, you may need a visa to study in the UK. You need a Student Route visa if you want to study a course for longer than six months.

Remember, some other types of visa can be used for study. This depends on your individual circumstances and what type of visa you have. You can discuss this with us by emailing our International Advice team before applying for your course.

For a Student Route (formerly tier 4) visa

  • You must have an unconditional offer to study at an institution that is licensed by the Home Office as a Student Route visa sponsor. Middlesex University is a licensed Student Route (General) visa sponsor
  • You must be at least 16 years old to apply for a Student Route visa to study at Middlesex University. We regret that we are unable to offer Student Route visa sponsorship to students who are under 16 years of age.
  • You must meet the financial and documentation requirements. Please see below for these in more detail.

Your CAS reference number

We will send you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) when we offer you a place to study and have confirmed that we will be able to sponsor you.

Your CAS will have a reference number which you must state on your visa application form. Your caseworker will check it when they process your visa.

Your Student Route visa only allows you to study at the institution which issued your CAS. If you move to another institution, you must apply for a new visa, even if your current one is still valid.

Information in your CAS

The CAS includes:

  • Personal information such as your name, date of birth, passport number, and nationality
  • Information about your course, including your course title, start and end dates, the details of your offer, and tuition fees
  • Details of your Student Route visa sponsor: sponsor licence number, institution name, and campus address.

You will receive a copy of this information when your CAS is issued. Please check it carefully and contact us if there are any mistakes.

Your visa sponsor

Your university or college will act as your Student route visa sponsor. This will be Middlesex University if you are accepted onto courses at our campus in London. Your visa is issued under your institution's 'sponsor licence'. This means that the institution is responsible for you while you are in the UK, and must guarantee your student status with UK Visas and Immigration.

All UK Visas are issued by a government agency called UK Visas and Immigration (formerly the UKBA). If you are overseas, your visa application might be managed by an agency such as VFS Global. The agency will manage the application process, but the final decision on your visa will still be made by UK Visas and Immigration.

  • The length of your visa

    Your Student Route visa will be valid for the duration of your course, plus a short amount of time afterwards.

    The amount of time your visa is valid for after graduation depends on the length or type of your course:

    • More than 12 months - 4 months after graduation
    • 6-12 months - 2 months after graduation
    • Less than 6 months - 7 days after graduation
    • Pre-sessional courses - 1 month after graduation
    • PhD courses - up to 3 years following graduation under the Graduate route.

    If you are already in the UK, working or studying or as a dependent (but not as a visitor), you may be able to apply for a Student Route visa to study at Middlesex University. We have free advice and support to help you with your application and visa

    After your course is finished, you can also search for a job with an employer who can offer you a Tier 2 (General) visa. The UK Visas and Immigration website has more information about work visas.

  • Working on your visa

    You can work while you are in the UK with some restrictions on the number of hours and on the type of work you can do. For example, you cannot be self-employed. More information about work restrictions can be found on the UK Council for International Student Affairs website and our Unihub site

    Placements on your visa

    A placement is an excellent choice for many students. At Middlesex many of our undergraduate courses have the option of a placement year to help increase your employability. We have excellent industry links to help you find a placement that's right for you. More information on work placements can be found on our Unihub site.

    Working after your studies

    After your course is finished, you can work during the additional period specified above. You can also search for a job with an employer who can offer you a Tier 2 (General) visa. The UK Visas and Immigration website has more information about work visas.

    If you are graduating in the summer of 2021 and was a student in the UK on a Student Route (or Tier 4) visa by the 5 April 2021, or if you started a programme at degree level or above after this date and which you then successfully complete, you will be eligible for a Graduate Route Visa.

    This allows you to stay in the UK to work or look for work for up to two years. The detailed rules for this visa have not yet been published but are expected in March 2021.

Make your Student route visa application

You must apply using an online application form (unless you are applying from North Korea). You must choose between the application form for applicants outside the UK and the application form for applicants already within the UK. Both application forms can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

How to complete your application form (overseas applicants)

How to apply for a Student route visa video

This will give you an overview of the application process.

How to complete your Student route visa application online video

The second video will go through a step-by-step guide to applying for an overseas Student route visa.

  • When to apply

    You can apply for your visa up to six months before your course starts. Do not apply before this date, as your application will be refused. You must apply for your visa at least two weeks before your course starts (or if you have the option of starting your studies online, at least 2 weeks before you plan to travel to the UK).

    If you cannot apply for your visa by this deadline, you may have to defer your studies and start your course at a later date.

    Make sure you allow enough time for the visa to be processed before your course starts or you plan to travel. It can take several weeks for your visa application to be processed and average processing times vary in each country. Lots of visa applications are made in June, July, and August so it can take longer to get your visa at these times because of the high demand.

    If you think you will miss the start of your course because your visa has not been issued, you should let us know immediately. You may need to start your studies online or defer your studies to the next intake.

    Any problems with your visa? Contact your local Regional Office or email our International Advice team to let us know.

  • Costs for your visa

    You need to pay for a fee to make a Student Route visa application. These costs are paid directly to your local Visa Application Centre or online. You will be advised of how to pay when you apply.

    From March 2018*, the cost of a Student Route visa is:

    • £348 if you are applying from outside the UK
    • £475 if you are applying from within the UK

    There are additional fees if you are applying for dependant visas or if you chose a priority service.

    *These charges are accurate as of February 2021. They are subject to change and you should check the visa application fees before you apply.

Applying with dependants

If you are studying at Postgraduate level only, on a Student Route visa, you might be able to bring your partner/spouse or your children with you to the UK as your dependants. You will need to show additional funds for each dependant.

Student route (Child) visa students cannot bring dependants.

If you have or are applying for, leave under the Graduate route, please see the Graduate route information.

For more information on regulations and definitions, please visit the Dependants page on the UKCISA website.

Prepare for your interview

You may be interviewed as part of the visa application process. An interview can take place at the visa application centre when you submit your application or any time between then and you receiving your visa (by phone or face-to-face). There is no way of knowing whether you will be selected for an interview.

You can find detailed information about the interview process on our visa interview page.

There is no need to be worried about the interview. Use our guidance to prepare and make sure you think about what you want to say in advance.

Questions at your interview

The questions in your interview will help your caseworker decide if you are a 'genuine' student and if you are planning to come to the UK in order to study the course you have been offered.

The interviewer will ask you questions to check that:

  • You have carefully thought about your study and why you want to come here
  • Your English is good enough for you to study in the UK so you will be expected to answer the questions without an interpreter.

Always tell the truth! You should never lie at any point during your visa application.

If you don't understand a question, you can ask the interviewer to repeat it. They understand that English might not be your first language and won't mind repeating the question. Most importantly, try to remain calm and answer the questions clearly and slowly. Don't panic, as this makes it harder for you to speak clearly.

We have created a flyer and an infographic preparation guide to help you think about the kinds of questions you may be asked and the best ways to prepare.

  • Example questions to prepare

    • Your institution
      • Why do you want to study in the UK?
      • Why did you choose your institution?
      • Where is your institution?
      • How big is your institution?
      • What other institutions did you consider?
    • Your course and your future career plans
      • Why did you choose this course?
      • What other courses did you consider?
      • How will you be assessed?
      • What modules will you study?
      • What do you want to do after graduation?
      • How will this qualification help you?
      • How much are the tuition fees?
      • How long is your course?
      • What qualification will you receive when you graduate?
    • Living in the UK
      • Where will you live?
      • How will you pay for your studies/living costs?
      • How much will your accommodation cost?
      • Are you planning to work while you are in the UK?

Length and format of your interview

  • The interview will probably last 10 to 20 minutes and can be done by video conference with an interviewer in the UK, by telephone or face-to-face at a visa application centre, a High Commission, or an Embassy
  • The interview is not recorded, but your answers are written down. The transcript is attached to your file and sent to the caseworker with the rest of your documents
  • No decision is made at the time of the interview. The transcripts are assessed at a later stage by the caseworker.

We strongly recommend that, when the interview is over, you ask for a copy of this transcript and check that it is an accurate record of the interview. If you feel the transcript is inaccurate or leaves out something important, please contact our international student advice team for more information.

Second interviews

It is unlikely you will be asked back for a second interview. If you are, this is probably because the interviewer is concerned about something you said during your first interview. You must contact us immediately to let us know. We can supply additional support and guidance.

A second interview is your last chance to convince the interviewer that you are a genuine student. Make sure you prepare well and can answer the questions fully.

Documents for your application

To apply for a Student route visa you will need the following documents.

  • Key documents

    • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

      Your University will send this to you by email when you have met all of the academic and financial conditions of your offer.

      You must state your CAS reference number on your Student route visa application.

      Please be aware that a CAS is specific to your unconditional offer. If you defer your studies to the next intake, or choose a different institution, you will need a new CAS.

    • Bank statements

      Unless you have already been living in the UK for 12 months or longer and are making a new application in the UK, you must provide a bank statement(s), loan letter or sponsorship letter to show that you have sufficient funds to pay for your studies.

      This includes outstanding tuition fees for your course, as well as living costs. You need to show that you have £1,334 per month for 9 months (£12,006) unless your course is shorter than 9 months*.

      *These figures are accurate as of February 2021. These figures are subject to change and you must make sure than you meet the requirements in place at the time you submit your visa application.

      Checklist for bank statements

      • They must clearly show the money is in your account for 28 consecutive days. The bank statement cannot be more than one month old when you apply for your visa
      • Bank statements must be in your name or the names of either of your parents(s). You cannot use a company account or a bank account in any one else's name
      • Loan letters must have been issued as part of an official state or national government educational loan scheme. Sponsorship letters must have been issued by a government or government agency, a university or a multinational company
      • All financial documents must be in English or accompanied by a translation stamped and signed by a professional translator
      • If you are applying for your visa from within the UK, you may be able to show reduced living costs. Please see the UKCISA website for more information

      More information on the financial requirements for your visa can be found in the UK Visas and Immigration Student route visa policy guidance.

    • Original copies of your qualifications

      Your CAS will list the qualifications which you must submit with your visa application. You must supply the original copies. Photocopies will not be accepted.

    • Evidence of your English language level

      The Home Office requires all students to have a minimum standard of English before they can study in the UK. The standard of English required depends on the level of the course you have applied for.

      Your CAS will state how your English has been assessed. This might be by reference to a qualification you have achieved or a IELTS certificate. You must ensure that you supply copies of any qualifications referenced on the CAS letter when you apply for your visa.

      If you are from a country which is recognised as majority English speaking, or you have completed a degree course which was taught and assessed in English in one of these countries and this is recorded on your CAS, you will not need to provide evidence of any additional English Language qualifications.

      Majority English-speaking countries are defined as: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA.

    • Tuberculosis (TB) screening certificate (if applicable)

      If you are coming to the UK for more than six months and apply for your visa from a country which has a high risk of tuberculosis, you must be tested and obtain a certificate to confirm that you do not have this illness.

      You must obtain this certificate from a recognised screening clinic before you make your visa application. There is a small charge, which is payable locally.

      Get more information about tuberculosis tests and a list of recognised screening clinics from the UK Visas and Immigration website.

    • Police Registration Certificate (if applicable)

      You may be required to register with the police when you arrive in the UK. This depends on your nationality and it will be clearly marked on your visa.

      When you register with the police, you are given a Police Registration Certificate. If you submit a visa application from within the UK, you must supply this certificate with your documents. You do not have to supply a Police Registration Certificate if you apply for your visa from outside the UK.

      Find out more about registering with the police for your visa.

    • A valid passport

      You will need a valid passport in order to apply for a Student route visa.

You don't need to submit all of the documentation above with your Student route visa application if your nationality (as stated on your passport) is one of the following:

Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Botswana, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, The Maldives, Mexico, New Zealand, Qatar, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates or the USA.

However, you must be able to show these documents if requested.

An applicant will be subject to different documentary requirements under Student route visa of the Points Based System where they are the rightful holder of a passport, which has been issued by one of the relevant competent authorities listed below, and where the applicant is applying either for entry clearance in the country or territory where they are living or for leave to remain in the UK.

British national (overseas), Hong Kong, Macau SAR or Taiwan*.

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

After your application

When you arrive in the UK

Once your Visa and course applications have been successful - you are on your way to the UK! Read our guidance and advice on getting through Border Control to make sure you start your time in the UK the right way.

If your visa is refused

If your visa application is unsuccessful then please email our team immediately. We will advise you of your options and help you decide what to do.

How to apply for another course

If you have already studied in the UK then you may want to apply to take another course at the same level. However, you must show that there is a good reason for this. This is called 'academic progress' and there are the following requirements:

  • If you want to continue onto a higher level course for example from undergraduate to postgraduate, you will automatically meet the requirements.
  • If you want to start a course at the same level as your previous course for example a second master's course then you should explain why you want to do the new course in your personal statement when you apply. This will be assessed as part of your application.

Academic progress only applies to courses that have been taken in the UK. If your previous study was overseas, this does not apply to you.

How to extend your Student route visa in the UK

If you have just graduated from a college or undergraduate course, you may want to continue to study and progress onto a masters or PhD course.

You may be able to extend your Student route visa to do another course, if you have not had a student visa for more than five years and meet additional criteria. For more information, please visit the UKCISA website.

You must extend your visa before you start your new programme. As long as there is not a gap of more than 28 days between your visa end date and your course start date, you can extend your visa from within the UK, so you don't have to return home.

When you extend your visa, you must meet the requirements in place at the time you apply. These might have changed from when you applied for your original visa.

Limits on extending your visa

You can have a Student route visa for a maximum of five years. You cannot extend your visa beyond this, unless:

  • You study a four-year undergraduate degree course. This is usually a course that includes a placement year. In these cases, you can stay in the UK for up to six years.
  • You study a PhD course

Some courses are exempt from the five-year limit. If you have previously taken a course that falls into any of these categories, you should let us know when you apply:

  • Architecture
  • Medicine
  • Veterinary Medicine/Science
  • Dentistry
  • Law (certain professional courses only)
  • Music (at a recognised 'Conservatoire')

Get support from our team

Our advisors are here to offer support to all applicants. We particularly recommend you contact us if you are not being supported by a professional advisor such as an agent or regional office, if you are resuming your education after a gap or are changing direction, if have had a previous visa refusal or if have been asked to attend a second visa interview as part of your visa application.

Confused about your visa?

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