If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national, and you will come to the UK to study for more than six months, you will need to apply for a Tier 4 visa. You will also need to apply for a Tier 4 visa if you wish to do a work placement as part of your studies, or look for a part time job.
Tier 4 visa requirements
In order to get a Tier 4 visa, you must meet strict criteria for the application.
Courses below degree level
You are permitted to study courses below degree level in the UK using a Tier 4 visa for up to two years.
Courses at degree level and above
You are permitted to study courses at degree level and above using a Tier 4 visa for no more than 5 years UNLESS:
- You are studying an exempted subject
- You are studying a masters degree after completing an undergraduate programme which was 4 or 5 years in length
- In this case you must complete all studies within 6 years
- You are studying a research programme, such as a PhD. If it is your first research programme, there will be no time limit on your studies
- If you have already completed a research degree using a Tier 4 visa, you must complete all of your studies (including previous courses) within 8 years (unless your previous programme was a research Masters of less than 13 months)
Find out more about exemptions in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance
The time will normally be calculated from the start date of your first visa, until four months after you expect to complete your new programme. Any time during which you did not hold a valid Tier 4 visa will be discounted. You must be able to complete your new programme within the limits unless:
- The time limits will prevent you from studying a fifth academic year of study, in which case you must be able to complete the new programme within 5 years and 11 months; or
- You have completed a 4 or 5 year undergraduate programme, and wish to study a masters degree, and the time limits would prevent you from studying a sixth academic year
- In this case you must be able to complete your studies within 6 years and 11 months
Academic progression is an important part of the Tier 4 visa application, and it will dictate whether you can make your visa application in the UK.
If you make your Tier 4 visa application from inside the UK, your new period of studies must represent academic progression from your studies in the UK to date.
Academic progression means that:
- You have successfully completed (i.e. achieved the award for) the most recent programme of study in the UK for which you were given a Tier 4 visa
- Your new course is:
- At a higher level than your previous programme, OR
- Complementary study
- This means it must be a specialisation of your previous studies, or a new programme which, combined with previous studies, will allow you to achieve your career goals
You do not need to show academic progression if:
- You are making a Tier 4 application from outside the UK
- You are applying to resit and exam or repeat a course, or you have previously resat an exam or repeated a course, and you need extra time to complete your programme
- You are applying for more time to complete your PhD for which you were last granted a Tier 4 visa (including at a new sponsor)
- You are applying to undertake a role as a Sabbatical Officer
- You are applying under the Doctorate Extension Scheme
Students who are applying to move to a higher level on certain integrated programmes do not need to have successfully completed their most recent programme to demonstrate academic progression. You can find more information about this in our fact sheet below.
The University will assess whether you meet the academic progression requirements before they issue you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.
Please read the full information about the academic progression requirements in our fact sheet.
You can download a checklist of the documents required for the Tier 4 visa below, however, it is essential that you check our Immigration Guide for detailed information about the requirements.
Completing the application process
There are four steps to making a Tier 4 application:
- Collecting your supporting documents
- Completing the online application and making payment
- Providing your biometric information
- Posting your application and supporting documents
Applying from the UK
If you are already have a visa for the UK, you may be able to extend or apply for a new Tier 4 visa from inside the UK.
Applying outside the UK
If you are making your Tier 4 visa application from outside the UK you must apply in your home country or normal country of residence.