Tier 4 (General) Visa
International students aged 16 and over enrolling on courses longer than 6 months need to apply for a Tier 4 visa. Find out more about eligibility, required documents and everything you need to do before and after receiving your visa.
Who should apply
Students aged 16 years or over who meet both financial and English language requirements, and that are coming to UAL to study:
- A full-time degree or degree-level course (e.g. BA, MA, PhD).
- A part-time postgraduate course at RQF level 7 or above (e.g. MA or Postgraduate Diploma).
- A further education course (e.g. Foundation Diploma).
- A pre-sessional course.
- An English language course (at level B2 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).
- There are time limits on how long you can study with a Tier 4 visa.
- Full-time students can work a limited number of hours, part-time students can't work.
- You may need to register with the police.
- Full-time postgraduate students may be able to bring dependants (family members), part-time students cannot bring dependents.
- Full-time students may be apply to extend their visa whilst in the UK, part-time students cannot extend in the UK.
- The University must report to the UK Government if you don't enrol or don't attend your course.
You can apply from a country in which you are legally resident (e.g. your home country), or from the UK if you are eligible. The earliest you can apply is 3 months before your course begins. You should prepare your application carefully and ensure you understand all of the requirements to have a successful visa application.
Our Tier 4 visa application guides should help you to apply for your new visa.
If you are applying from outside the UK:
- Understanding the process and requirements (PDF 1.07MB)
- Instructions to complete the online application form (PDF 2.88MB)
If you are applying from inside the UK:
Before you apply
Getting a CAS
A CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) is required before you can apply for your Tier 4 visa. A CAS is an electronic document created by the University which contains information about you and the course you will study. It's stored on a database that the Home Office can see.
You'll receive your CAS document by email, after you've completed the following steps:
- Proved that you meet the conditions of your offer.
- Accepted your unconditional offer.
- Paid your Pre-payment.
Note that the University normally stops issuing CAS documents a couple of weeks before the course starts. This is to ensure you have enough time to apply for and receive your visa. However, if you are applying from your country and you can access a priority visa application service, we may still be able to issue a CAS after our final issue date.
After receiving your visa
Read your decision notice
It will explain if your visa application has been successful and will contain important information about your stay in the UK, including any conditions you must meet.
If you do not understand the notice, or if your visa application has been refused, contact the Student Advice Service.
Check for errors
Errors on your visa sticker or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) must be corrected or this can cause problems with your immigration status. Check all information immediately, especially the expiry (end) date.
Register with the police
Some students are legally required to register with the police at the Overseas Visitors Registration Office (OVRO) after receiving their BRP. If you applied for your visa outside the UK, your visa sticker will tell you if you have to register with the police. If you applied for your visa in the UK, your decision notice will tell you if you must register so read it carefully.
After registration, you will receive a certificate with some personal information, your UK address and details of your BRP.
During your stay in the UK
Keep your BRP and passport safe
It can be costly and take a long time to replace your BRP or passport. You don't need to have them with you all the time, it's better to keep them safe at home. For everyday identification purposes, you can get a Validate UK card or Citizencard. You should also take a photocopy of your passport and visa.
Lost/stolen visa or BRP
You need to report this immediately and apply for a replacement.
Find out more
Attend your classes and inform UAL about absences
Let us know if you can't attend classes. UAL must report continued unauthorised absences to UK Visas and Immigration. If this happens, your visa will be cancelled and you will have to leave.
Find out more
Changes to circumstances
If you change your personal details or you get a new visa, BRP or passport, contact:
You can usually work during your studies, but there are restrictions on type of work and the number of weekly hours. See the UKCISA website to learn more.
After the end of your course
You must leave the UK on or before the date that your visa or BRP expires. It is a criminal offence to stay in the UK after your visa or BRP expires. See the UKCISA website for more information.
Please note that if you left the country after the end date of your course as shown on your CAS, you won't be able to return even if your Tier 4 visa or BRP have not yet expired. This is because the purpose for the visa has been fulfilled.
If you have a CAS to start another course and you wish to return to the UK to apply for a Tier 4 visa for that course, you should seek advice from the Student Advice Service.
If you applied for another visa, you can stay in the UK while a decision is made on your application. This happens if you completed a BA course and applied for an MA course, or if you are about to start a job. Learn more about visa options after completing your course.
You should return your visa to the Home Office, when you no longer need and one of the following applies:
- You are taking time-out from your course and returning to your home country
- You have come to the end of your course and are returning to your home country
- You have applied to extend your visa in the UK and have a new visa
You put a short note in the envelope explaining why you are returning it. The return address is:
PO Box 195
If your Tier 4 has expired or you have left the country once your course finished, you must apply for a suitable visa to return to the UK and attend your graduation ceremony.
Please check: Visa Guidance for Graduation 2019 (PDF 307KB)