Immigration

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.

When should I make my visa application?

You can make your application up to 3 months before your programme start date, which will be stated on your CAS. 

You should aim to make your Tier 4 visa application as early as possible, once you have gathered your supporting documents.

You should not make your Tier 4 application more than 3 months in advance of the start date of your programme or your application will be rejected and you will lose your application fee.

How long does the application process take?

The application process from outside the UK normally takes around 3 weeks. 

Find out how long it takes to make a visa application in your country:

Visa processing times

Some countries offer a priority application service which takes around 3-5 working days.

Find out if you can make a priority application in your country:

Priority visa application centres

How do I make the application?

There are four steps to making a Tier 4 visa application.

Step 1: Collect documents you will need to support your application

Find a full list of documents and further information here:

Step 2: Complete a Tier 4 application online

You will need to complete an online application.

Online application

At the end of the application, you will need to pay the application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge, at £150 per year of visa.

Our video tutorial shows how to complete the application:

Once you have made your payment, you should print the cover sheet as you will need to send it with your documents.

Find out more about the Immigration Health Surcharge 

Step 3: Attend your appointment at the Visa Application Centre

When you have paid for your application you will be directed to make an appointment at your nearest Visa Application Centre.

Visa Application Centres

At the appointment you will submit your biometric information (your digital fingerprints and photograph) and you may need to attend an interview.

Find out more about visa interviews in our Immigration Guide:

Step 4: Post your documents to the Embassy

When you attend your appointment they will give you confirmation that you have completed that stage, and give you information about where to send your supporting documents.

It is important that you do this as soon as possible to ensure there is no delay in receiving a decision about your application.

What happens next?

UKVI will return your documents to you by post.

If your application is successful, you will get a ‘vignette’ in your passport. This is a visa sticker which will allow you to travel to the UK, and which will state the conditions of your visa.

If you are coming to the UK for less than 6 months, the vignette will state the full length of time you are allowed to stay in the UK.

If you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months, the vignette will be valid for 30 days to allow you to travel to the UK. When you arrive in the UK you will need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit.

Find full information about Biometric Residence Permits, and how to get yours, here:

Biometric Residence Permits

Find more information about the conditions of your Tier 4 visa:

Rights, responsibilities and restrictions

What if my application is refused?

If your Tier 4 visa application is refused, it is important that you get in contact with us straight away. You can email us at visarefusal@ed.ac.uk.

You should include the following information in your email:

  • Your name, date of birth, nationality and student number
  • Where you made your application
  • A copy of your refusal notice (all pages)

We will advise you of the next steps to take. If you need to make a new Tier 4 application, you will need a new Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.