Applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa inside the UK

The information below is for those applicants from outside the European Economic Area that are inside the UK looking to apply for, switch to, or extend their Tier 4 (General) visa inside the UK.

You will need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa if you wish to study on a full-time course of more than six months at UWE Bristol.

Can I apply inside the UK?

You can only apply for a new Tier 4 visa in the UK if your new course of studies starts no more than 28 days after the end of your current leave. If the gap between the end of your current leave and the start of your new course (as stated on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)) is longer than 28 days then you must leave the UK and apply from your home country.

To make a Tier 4 application inside the UK you must have leave in one of the following categories:

  • Tier 4 (General) student
  • Tier 4 (Child) student
  • Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) migrant
  • Tier 2 migrant

You can also make a Tier 4 application in the UK if you were last granted leave as a student under the old immigration rules that were in place before the Tier 4 student rules were introduced in March 2009.

If your last grant of leave was not one of the categories listed above then you must return to your home country and apply for a Tier 4 visa from there. There are currently three exceptions to this in relation to Syrian nationals, Libyan nationals and the children of diplomats in the UK. If you wish to apply under one of these exceptions, we advise that you speak to a UWE Bristol Immigration Adviser to discuss your application.

How do I apply?

You have two choices about how to make your application – a standard application (by post) or a premium application (in-person).

Whether opting for the standard or premium service, you will need firstly need to complete the online application form and pay the associated fee online using either a debit or credit card. The online form will give you the option of applying by post or in person. 

A payment receipt is immediately available to you online after successful payment has been taken by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

The standard service is the less expensive option but has a longer processing time. The premium service is the more expensive option but your application is decided quickly and if the UKVI are satisfied with your application you will receive a decision on the day and if successful, your new visa in the form of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) will be sent to your correspondence address used in your application within ten working days of your appointment.

Depending on which service you choose your documents will either be sent to the UKVI by post or you will need to submit them in person at your appointment. A UWE Bristol Immigration Adviser can help you prepare for both types of application.

The paper application form is only available to applicants who use the Home Office's Super Premium Service, or who have more than ten dependants. Such applicants can request a paper form

You must be in the UK on the date of application or your application will not be considered. Please read the Tier 4 Policy Guidance produced by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) before submitting your application.

How much does it cost to apply?

As of 6 April 2018:

  • The current standard postal application fee is £475.
  • The current priority (postal) application fee is £952.
  • The current premium service in-person application fee is £1,085.

The in-person fee is payable in full when you book the appointment online as part of the online application process. If you fail to attend the appointment, without good reason, only £985 will be refunded.

These prices are the same for applications made using the online application and those made using the paper application form.

Applications for visas that are more than six months long will also include an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). The cost of this is based on the length of the visa that you are applying for.

This charge is in addition to the visa application fee and separate from the maintenance requirements of the visa application.

If you do not pay the IHS your application will be refused. The Home Office may contact you and request payment before refusing your application for this reason but you should not rely on this happening.

What documents will I need to provide with my application?

When should I make my application?

Check your entry clearance or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to see when your current visa expires. You must apply before your current immigration permission ends. Your date of application is the date on which you pay the application fee and submit the application online. You then have 15 working days to submit your documents by post, or 45 working days to submit them in person at an appointment.

We advise you start preparing for your leave to remain application at least three months before your current immigration permission ends, and longer if you need an ATAS clearance certificate.

If you are applying for leave to remain to continue on a course that you are already studying, you can submit your application as soon as you meet all of the requirements. However, if you are applying in order to start a new course you must not submit your application more than three months before the start date, as stated in your CAS. You should also wait until you have finished, or almost finished, your first course before you make your application for leave to remain to study a second one.

If you cannot make an application before your current immigration permission ends you should leave the UK before this date and apply for entry clearance to return to the UK as a Tier 4 (General) student once you meet all of the requirements.

If you remain in the UK after the date on which your current immigration permission ends without submitting an application for further leave to remain, then you become an over stayer, which is a criminal offence.

The University will not permit you to continue your studies if you become an over stayer and will withdraw your CAS meaning that your Tier 4 application would be refused. If you think that you are going to be unable to submit a Tier 4 application before your current leave expires you should speak to a UWE Bristol Immigration Adviser.

How do I apply if I am under 18 years old?

If you are under 18 years old and applying for a Tier 4 visa you must only apply as Tier 4 (General) student. We do not sponsor Tier 4 child applicants.

How do I provide my biometrics?

A visa issued in the UK is issued onto an ID card called a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). The card shows information about you and your visa. It also contains an electronic data chip which holds your information and fingerprints. In order to have a BRP issued, you will have to provide fingerprints and have a photo taken, otherwise known as ‘enrolling your biometrics’.

Once you have completed the Tier 4 online application form and paid both the application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge, you will immediately be asked to make an appointment to enrol your biometrics. This is done automatically via the website of UKVI’s contractor Sopra Steria (operating as UKVCAS).

Appointment booking may be free of charge. However, the more conveniently located or scheduled you wish your appointment to take place, the more likely a fee (which can vary with location) will be charged. This is in addition to the standard or priority application fees. Regrettably we cannot guarantee that the appointment will take place in Bristol. The nearest and most popular alternatives are in Cardiff. At busy times of the year (typically September) UWE Bristol arranges a ‘pop-up’ service on campus, for which the charge is £50.

Applicants using the Super Priority service will not be charged for booking the appointment as the charge is included in the overall application fee.

Students with dependants should be aware that the booking fee will be payable for each individual attending the biometric appointment. For example, a student applying with three dependants and booking a £60 appointment slot will be asked to pay £240.

Your immigration adviser will guide you through the application process, and will navigate the biometric appointment booking system. You are advised not to undertake this without assistance. Once we have booked an appointment for you, we will also upload the documents you have been asked to submit in support of your application.

In order for your Tier 4 application to be deemed valid, you must comply with the requirement to enrol biometrics and upload documents in support of your application.

You must take your identity documents (passport and BRP, if you have one) to the appointment. We strongly advise you also to take the evidence which has been uploaded.

Do not under any circumstances leave the UK while your visa application is being decided or while you are waiting for your biometrics appointment.

Please attend your biometric appointment promptly, and inform both UKVCAS and UWE Bristol’s Immigration Advice Service if you anticipate problems getting there. After you successfully enrol your biometrics, your application will be assigned to a caseworker in UKVI and processed.

Will I have to have an interview as part of my application?

You may be asked to attend a credibility interview as part of the application process. Interviews are normally carried out by a secure telecommunications system (similar to Skype), although sometimes they will consist of a face-to-face interview. The interview will take place at one of 12 Home Office centres across the UK:

  • Belfast
  • Birmingham
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds 
  • Leicester
  • Liverpool
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham

Your interview will normally be held at the closest centre to where you live. If there are no appointments available at your nearest centre you may be invited to attend the next nearest centre. However, if you are asked to attend a centre that is very far from where you live you should contact the Home Office using the email address provided in the invitation letter and ask them to move your appointment to a centre closer to your home.

During this interview a Home Office member of staff (either in person or by Skype) will assess whether you meet the English language requirements, and also if you are a 'genuine student.'  If you are asked to attend such an interview you must do so (unless you have a good reason as to why you cannot), otherwise your application is likely to be refused.

The Home Office member of staff will ask you questions and a report of the interview will be sent to the Entry Clearance Officer who makes the decision on your Tier 4 application.

Will I have to undergo health screening as part of my application inside the UK?


Apply for a UK visa online

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