If you’re over 18 years old, want to study at a UK university, and live outside the European Union, you need to apply for documentation called the Tier 4 (General) student visa. The Tier 4 visa allows international students to legally study, live, and work in the UK.

What does the visa allow me to do?

The visa will allow you to undertake degree level courses, recognised foundation programmes, or English courses at Level B2 or above.

It will also allow you to work or volunteer for up to 20 hours a week, subject to sponsorship and course type.

What do you need to apply for a Tier 4 visa?

To apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa, you need an unconditional offer, or proof you have met the requirements set from a UK university.

You also need to prove you can speak, read, write, and understand the English language. This usually means passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT), although there are some exemptions. For example, if you have completed a qualification equivalent to a degree in an English speaking country. 

The level of proficiency in English you need will depend on the type of degree you want to take. Always check with the course provider before applying.

If you are under 18 years old, you  need proof of parental or legal guardian consent, and other additional documentation depending on their circumstances. 

How much does it cost to apply for a Tier 4 visa?

The cost to apply is £348 plus a healthcare surcharge, which costs £150.

You also need to prove you have enough money to pay for your course and support yourself during your studies.

The exact amount of money will depend on where and what you are studying. 

How long does a Tier 4 visa allow you to stay in the UK?

The length of your Tier 4 visa depends on the type of course you are applying to study in the UK and the education you have already completed.  

  • If your course lasts up to six months you can arrive in the UK one week before it starts.
  • If it lasts more than six months you can arrive up to one month in advance.

It is important that you do not remain in the UK after your visa has expired, as this is a criminal offence and can lead to serious issues.

If your Tier 4 visa has finished but you wish to continue your studies in the UK, you can extend your visa.

  • To be eligible, there are requirements you must meet – you must stay in the UK and you must still have a sponsor.
  • If you are not eligible, but still wish to stay, you may be able to switch to another type of visa.

Can I work with a Tier 4 visa?

Yes, some students on the Tier 4 visa will be allowed to work, but there are restrictions. Your exact number of permitted work hours will depend on certain factors, but are generally restricted to 20 hours per week during term-time.

Your course type, sponsor, and the type of application you have made will all be important facts on the amount of work you can take on alongside your studies.

Check your passport or BRP card for specific details of the hours you’re allowed to work.

Students on a Tier 4 visa cannot:

  • be self-employed
  • work full-time
  • be employed in the sporting or entertainment industry
  • work as a doctor or dentist – unless it’s part of your training 

Can I bring dependants?

Yes, you can apply to bring your family if you are being sponsored as a Tier 4 student and your course will last more than nine months.

You may apply to bring your unmarried or same-sex partner, husband, or wife. Children under 18 years old may also be allowed to come with you. 

New government-sponsored students on courses longer than six months may also be eligible to bring dependants. Always check during the application process.

Find out more about Tier 4 visas on GOV.UK

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