The peak visa application period in the UK runs from September until February.
Start around 3 months from your visa expiry date.
This gives you time to arrange the original documentation you need, and that you make the application in plenty of time before the expiry date.
If your visa is sponsored by another institution, you should make the application to change your visa to being one sponsored by the University of Edinburgh before you enrol.
The International Office can assist you with this.
You can choose to make either a postal or in-person application.
A postal application is made by sending all the required original documents, the application form, payment and your passport to the UK Border Agency.
Once the payment has cleared, you will receive a letter which requests you to provide your biometrics.
Biometrics (finger prints and a biometric photograph) are given at a range of Post Offices, detailed in the letter you will receive. Take your biometrics letter to one of the Post Offices listed - there are two in Edinburgh - and give your details. You will need to pay a fee of £19.20 at the Post Office to give your biometrics.
You can only give your biometrics once you have received a biometrics letter.
Even if you have given your biometrics before as part of a UK visa application, you will need to give them again for your Tier 4 application.
Once you have given your biometrics your application is queued for a decision.
The timescale for a decision is normally around 28 working days (Monday-Friday) starting from the date you give your biometrics. Following the decision, all documents are sent back to the address stated on the application form. At certain times of year, it can take longer.
If you apply through the International Office, all your documents will return there.
If you think you will need your passport for any reason on or you simply want a quicker decision on the application, then make an in-person (premium) application at an Immigration Office.
First of all, you need to make an appointment.
The nearest office which handles in-person applications is the Public Enquiry Office in Glasgow.
The in-person application includes a biometrics appointment - so there is no need to arrange that separately.
You will have a short interview with an immigration officer, who will check your documents and if it is a standard and straightforward case, will normally notify you the decision that day.
The ID card is sent separately and arrives around 5 working days after your appointment to your stated correspondence address.
Whether you apply in-person or by post in the UK, your visa will be issued to you on an ID card and will not appear in your passport.
The ID card is a credit-card sized document, with your photograph and personal details of your name and new visa expiry date.
Details about the Biometric Residence Permit is on the UK Border Agency website:
You will need it if you are travelling outside of the UK, and you may need it for visa applications for other countries made from within the UK. You do not need to carry the card everyday - keep it somewhere safe.
The Academic Registry department at the University of Edinburgh require a copy of your ID card every time you renew your visa.
If you apply through the International Office, we will pass a copy to Academic Registry automatically, however if you apply in person or you post your own application, you will need to ensure that you arrange this.
This article was published on Apr 8, 2013