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United Kingdom

Conditions

Students from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland can apply to come to the United Kingdom for their education.

There are a range of immigration categories, depending on your age, the length of your intended course of study and whether you want to work during your stay:

  • The student visitor category is for people aged 18 or over, who want to study in the United Kingdom for up to six months and do not want to work during their stay.
  • The child visitor category is for people under 18 years old who want to study in the United Kingdom for up to six months and who do not want to work during their stay.
  • The Tier 4 (General) category category is for people who want to come to the United Kingdom for their full-time post-16 education.
    • You will need to pass a points-based assessment based on the level of your course, your education provider and your financial resources.
    • You may need to pass an English language test if you have not studied in the United Kingdom as a Tier 4 child, if you do not have a degree that was taught in the English language or if you are not a national of a listed majority English-speaking country.
  • The Tier 4 (Child) category is for children aged between four and 17 years old who want to come to the United Kingdom for their education.
    • You will need to pass a points-based assessment based on the level of your course, your education provider and your financial resources.
    • There must also be adequate care arrangements in place for your stay.
    • If you are between four and 15 years old, you cannot apply under Tier 4 (Child), unless you will be educated at an independent fee-paying school.
    • If you are aged at least 16 years old, you will be allowed to work for up to 10 hours during term-time, and to work full-time during vacations.

If you are applying under Tier 4, you must have been accepted on a course of study at an educational institution that has a Tier 4 sponsor licence and is willing to act as your sponsor. Your sponsor will issue a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies to you.

You will only be permitted to study at the sponsoring institution or at a partner institution.

Procedures

Where and how to apply

Applying under Tier 4

An applicant under Tier 4 must apply for a visa no more than six months after his/her sponsor has issued their Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.

If you are applying to come to the United Kingdom under Tier 4, you must apply at a UK Border Agency visa application centre in the country where you are legally resident.

More on applying to Tier 4 (General) from abroad

More on applying to Tier 4 (Child) from abroad

If you are applying from inside the United Kingdom to extend your stay, you can submit your application by post or in person. There are restrictions as to the immigration categories from which you can switch into Tier 4.

If you finish your current Tier 4 course of study and you wish to start a new course, you may only apply in country if the new course will start less than one month after your current entry clearance or leave to remain expires.

If the course is below degree level you will not be granted leave to remain if this will result in you having spent more than three years in the UK as a Tier 4 migrant since the age of 18 studying below degree level courses.

More on applying to Tier 4 (General) from inside the United Kingdom

More on applying to Tier 4 (Child) from inside the United Kingdom

Documents required

You must provide documents in support of your application.

More on supporting documents for Tier 4 (General) students

More on supporting documents for Tier 4 (Child) students

Duration of validity permits

The maximum length of your stay depends on the type and length of your course.

More on the authorised length of stay for Tier 4 (General) students

More on the authorised length of stay for Tier 4 (Child) students

Appeals

If you apply unsuccessfully from inside the UK, you may have a right of appeal. Your refusal letter from the UK Border Agency will explain why your application has been refused and whether and how you can appeal. If you can appeal, an appeal form will be included with your refusal letter.

If you apply unsuccessfully from outside the UK, an administrative review is available, which is free of charge. You must request a review within 28 calendar days of the date when the refusal notice was issued. An appeal against a refusal of a visa is possible only on the grounds of discrimination by public authorities or a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights by public authorities.

More on appeals and administrative reviews for Tier 4 (General)

More on appeals and administrative reviews for Tier 4 (Child)

Further requirementsYou may need to register with the police upon arrival and during your stay in the United Kingdom, depending on your nationality and length of stay.

Rights

Change of course or education institution

If you want to do a different course of study with the same sponsor, you may need prior permission from the UK Border Agency.

If you want to do a course of study with a different approved education provider, you must obtain prior permission from the UK Border Agency.

You should apply again under Tier 4 and cannot start at the new institution before your application is approved unless:

  • the new sponsor is a Highly Trusted Sponsor; and
  • you have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies from the new sponsor; and
  • you applied to UK Border Agency before your existing permission to stay expired.

If your existing permission to stay was granted before 5 October 2009, you will need to get permission from UK Border Agency to change provider. You may start at the new institution before permission is granted but you should be aware that your request may be refused and your existing permission to stay may be cancelled.

More on changes of course or educational institution for Tier 4 (Child) students

More on changes of course or educational institution for Tier 4 (General) students

Employment during studies

Tier 4 (General) students are allowed to do a work placement if this is an assessed part of the course and takes up no more than 50% of the full course length (unless there is a statutory requirement for the course of study to contain a specific period of work placement).

  • From April 2012 students starting new courses not at higher education institutions can be on a work placement for only one third of the length of the course.
  • Students studying at degree level who are sponsored by a Recognised Body or a body in receipt of public funding are permitted to work for twenty hours per week during term-time and full-time during vacations.
  • Students studying below degree level who are sponsored by a Recognised Body or a body in receipt of public funding may work for ten hours per week during term-time and full-time during vacations.
  • Students studying at any academic level who are sponsored by a publicly funded further education college are permitted to work for ten hours per week during term-time and full-time during vacations.
  • Students who are applying to come to the United Kingdom or to extend their existing permission to study in the United Kingdom and who are not sponsored by a publicly funded higher education institution or further education college will not be able to work at any time during their studies.

No student who is allowed to work can fill a permanent full-time vacancy.

Work as a postgraduate doctor or dentist must be on a recognised Foundation Programme.

Tier 4 (Child) students aged 16 or older can work part-time (no more than 10 hours per week during term-time and full time during vacations. Those under 16 years old are not allowed to work.

More on work for Tier 4 (Child) students

More on work for Tier 4 (General) students

Permanent residenceTime spent in the United Kingdom as a student will not count towards the time needed to qualify for permanent residence status.

Employment after studies

If you are a Tier 4 (General) student, you may be able to apply to remain in the United Kingdom as a post-study worker when you complete your course.

If you have a genuine and credible business idea, and an endorsement from a UK Higher Education Institution or UK Trade and Investment, you can apply to switch into Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur).

More on Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

If you obtain a degree qualification in the UK, and have an offer of a graduate level job with a licensed sponsoring employer, you can apply to switch into Tier 2.

More on Tier 2

If you need to stay in the United Kingdom temporarily to complete postgraduate training or work experience to obtain a professional qualification or professional registration, you can apply to switch into Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange).

More on Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange)

Family reunification

Tier 4 (General) students can bring their partners and/or children to the United Kingdom with them in the following circumstances:

  • The Tier 4 (General) student is applying for a course of study that will last for more than six months and must have or have last had entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain as a Tier 4 (General) student or student for a course of more than six months duration within the three months immediately preceding the date of the application. The child and/or partner must have or have last had entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain as the child and/or partner of a Tier 4 (General) student or student with leave for a course of more than six months duration within the three months immediately preceding the date of the application. The Tier 4 (General) student and child and/or partner must be applying at the same time; or
  • The Tier 4 (General) student is a new government-sponsored student following a course that is longer than six months; or
  • The Tier 4 (General) student is sponsored by a higher education institution on a post-graduate course lasting twelve months or more.

If you are able to bring family members with you and would like to do so, you must prove that you can cover their monthly living costs. Family members cannot claim state benefits and may have to register with the police. If you are applying for leave to enter or remain for less than twelve months (unless you are on a government sponsored scheme for at least six months) or for a course of below degree level study, your partner and/or child will not be able to work.

Family members of Tier 4 (General) students with existing permission to be in the United Kingdom who wish to extend their stay will be allowed to do so provided they apply at the same time as the Tier 4 (General) student applies to undertake a further course of study that is longer than six months in duration.

More on family members of Tier 4 (General) students

Tier 4 (Child) students are not allowed to bring partners or children with them to the United Kingdom when they come to study.

If you are married, in a civil partnership or have a partner who wants to come with you, he/she must make his/her own application in one of the United Kingdom's immigration categories.

Parents of children in Tier 4 (Child) who are under 12 years old can apply for a special visitor visa to accompany their child