Applying for a visa

Your Tier 4 (General) application

The University of Essex is a licensed Tier 4 Sponsor for Tier 4 (General). By accepting our Tier 4 sponsorship (using our CAS), you will have many responsibilities both to us as your Tier 4 sponsor and to the Home Office. Make sure you understand what you must do to maintain your Tier 4 immigration status. Please read the ‘Your studies and Tier 4’ section of our website for more information and our You, your studies and Tier 4 leaflet (.pdf).

You must make sure that you are eligible to apply, complete the correct application form, pay the correct fee and can meet all the Home Office requirements as outlined in the Tier 4 Immigration Rules and Policy Guidance.

If you are from a 'low risk' country specified by the Home Office you may not have to supply all the documents at the time of the application but must be able to provide them if the Home Office request them, documents must demonstrate that you meet the Tier 4 requirements on the date you applied.

When to apply

If you are starting a new course, the earliest you can make your Tier 4 application is 3 (three) months before the course start date stated on your CAS. For example, if your course start date is 1 October on your CAS, you must not apply before 1 July or your application will be refused.

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Collection

When completing your Tier 4 application overseas, select the following locations for BRP collection (if you are coming to your campus within 10 days of arrival in the UK):

  • Colchester Campus - ACL (Alternative Collection Location) 2HE557
  • Loughton Campus - ACL (Alternative Collection Location) 2HE557
  • Southend Campus - Southend-on-Sea Post Office, SS1 1LL

More information about BRP collection.

  • Essential reading

  • CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)

    You will need a CAS from the University. When you receive your CAS, check that all the details are correct. A CAS can only be used for one application.

  • Evidence of your qualifications

    If there are qualifications mentioned in your CAS under "evidence used to obtain offer" then you must provide these with your application unless it is an English language test that the Home Office (.pdf) will check online. Paper documents must be original and meet the Home Office requirements. See our guidance regarding English Language requirements.

  • Your finances

    You must provide the required original evidence that you have sufficient funds for your tuition fees and living costs, as specified by the Home Office (.pdf). The most common reason for refusal is on maintenance grounds and often it is the documents that are supplied that do not meet the Tier 4 requirements.

    Bank statements

    If you're self-funded and using bank statements, they must show you have the tuition fees that remain unpaid plus maintenance costs. You can use more than one account. You may be able to use your parents bank account as evidence but must also provide additional documents that meet the Home Office requirements. If you are living in University accommodation and have paid some or all of the fees you will be able to show a lower amount in your account(s).

    Your bank statements must meet ALL the requirements and you must hold the whole amount for a continuous 28 days. The 28th day will be the date of the closing balance and the closing balance must not be more than 31 days before the date you submit your application. The balance on every one of the 28 days must be the minimum amount (or more) you have to show is available to you.

    Official financial sponsorship or Government sponsor

    You must check that your financial sponsor meets the Home Office definition of an official financial sponsor and provide the required documents.

    University accommodation fees

    The Home Office will allow you to count some of the accommodation fees that you have already paid to the University towards your total maintenance requirements. If you have already paid the University some or all of your accommodation fees this should be shown on your CAS. If you pay after your CAS is produced or if you believe the amount shown is incorrect, please ask for it to be amended. The amount you can deduct from the total you have to show for living expenses will depend on the date you are making your Tier 4 application.

    For applications made before 12 November 2015

    All Campuses: £820 per calendar month for each month of your course up to a maximum of nine months, maximum is £7,380. If you're living in University accommodation and have paid some or all of the fees to us, you can deduct the amount you have paid up to a maximum of £1,020 from the total maintenance amount you must show is available to you. The payment should show on your CAS.

    If you have been studying in the UK and hold a valid Tier 4 (General) visa you may have an "established presence". If so you can show less, which is a maximum of £1,640. It's important that you check the Tier 4 policy guidance to ensure you meet all the criteria. If you have recently had a Tier 4 application rejected or refused in the UK and have become an overstayer you will not have established presence. If the course duration includes a part of a month this will be rounded up. For example if your course is seven months and two weeks long you must show you have enough money for eight months.

    For applications made on or after 12 November 2015

    The amount you will need will depend on which Essex campus you are based at. The “established presence” provision has been removed so all Tier 4 (General) applicants (unless applying for Tier 4 DES) must have the full amount of maintenance available to them.

    • Colchester or Southend Campus - £1,015 per calendar month for each month of your course up to a maximum of nine months, maximum is £9,135.
    • Loughton Campus - £1,265 per calendar month for each month of your course up to a maximum of nine months, maximum is £11,385.

    If you're living in University accommodation and have paid some or all of the fees to us, you can deduct the amount you have paid up to a maximum of £1,265 from the total maintenance amount you must show is available to you. The payment should show on your CAS. If the course duration includes a part of a month, this will be rounded up. For example, if your course is seven months and two weeks long you must show you have enough money for eight months.

  • Immigration Health Surcharge

    The National Health Service provides emergency and secondary care in the UK, some NHS treatment is provided free for everyone. Free hospital care is only available to certain migrants including Tier 4 (General) students who have paid (or are exempt from paying) the IHS.

    Who has to pay

    From 6 April 2015, most Tier 4 (General) applicants will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, unless exempt.

    • If you are applying for Entry Clearance overseas you will have to pay the charge if your course is for more than six months.
    • If you are applying in the UK you will have to pay the charge regardless of the length of the course.
    • Tier 4 applications from an Australian or New Zealand national or; a British Overseas Territory Citizen who is resident in the Falkland Islands or; a UK Government Scholarship student (Chevening, Marshall and Commonwealth) are exempt from paying the charge.

    Cost

    The amount you will be charged will be based on the length of your visa (not your course) and is currently £150 per year for each year of your visa. For incomplete years the charge will be halved if less than six months, otherwise the full yearly fee will be charged.

    We would expect students to pay the following amounts, this is based on their course start and finish dates as stated on the CAS, plus the additional periods of leave given before and after your course:

    • UG 3 year (course plus 1 month before, 4 months after) - £525
    • UG 4 year (course plus 1 month before, 4 months after) - £625
    • Masters 1 year (course plus 1 month before, 4 months after for 15/16) - £225
    • PhD 4 year (course plus 1 month before, 4 months after) - £675

    If you are bringing dependants with you to the UK, each dependant will have to pay the surcharge for the length of their visa.

    What you need to do

    When you complete your Tier 4 (General) application on-line you will prompted to calculate the fee and must pay the amount required. If you are making a postal application you will have to enter your details into the Immigration Health Surcharge portal, pay the fee if required and obtain a reference number to enter into the cover sheet of your Tier 4 application.

    If you do not pay the correct fee you should be contacted by the Home Office requesting payment. If you fail to pay the fee by the deadline given your application will be rejected as invalid if you are applying in the UK or, refused if you are applying overseas.

    The Home Office changed the way it collects the ISH fee on the 5 July. If you had already paid the ISH but didn’t submit your Tier 4 application in time and had to pay twice or had other complications please read the Home Office guidance (.pdf) for more information.

    Local NHS services

    This surcharge will give you access to NHS hospital care while you are studying in the UK. If you are exempt from paying the charge you will be entitled to NHS hospital care when you are in the UK.

    If you are not entitled to free NHS hospital care you will be charged as a private patient and should ensure you have adequate health insurance.

    Students studying for less than six months

    Students studying courses of less than six months duration are not entitled to free NHS hospital care in the UK so must ensure they have adequate private health insurance.

  • Entry clearance, date of travel to the UK

    If you are coming to the UK to study for more than six months you should be issued with an Entry Clearance vignette that will be valid for 30 days. The 30 day period will start 30 days before your course start date (as stated on your CAS) or, seven days before your intended date of travel (as stated in your Tier 4 application) whichever is the later. You must ARRIVE in the UK by the date your 30 day entry clearance expires. We recommend that you include your intended date of travel in your application and specify in the additional notes field that you would like your visa to start from this date, especially if you intend to travel to the UK shortly before your course is due to start. Please note that within 10 days of arrival in the UK you must collect your Biometric Residence Permit. How and when you can get your BRP will depend on where you applied. Find out how to get your BRP.

    If you are not able to arrive in the UK by the date your 30 day vignette expires you will have to apply for a new 30 day vignette, please read the UKCISA guidance for more information.

    If you will be studying for up to six months you should be issued with Entry Clearance that will be valid for the duration of your course and will not need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit in the UK.

  • Credibility Interviews

    When you apply for your visa you may be invited to a short credibility interview, which is intended to help satisfy the Home Office that you are a genuine student and that your English language ability is as stated on your CAS.

    If you are invited to participate in a credibility interview, you will be asked a number of questions which might include; your reasons for choosing to study in the UK, where you will live, your knowledge of the area you plan to live in, your reasons for choosing your course and the University of Essex, your future career plans and how you plan to fund your studies. Most interviews will take approximately five to ten minutes and may take place via videoconferencing facilities. In a small number of cases, applicants may be invited to take part in a longer face-to-face interview.

    Failure to satisfy the Home Office that you are a genuine student would lead to your application being refused and you are unlikely to be able to commence your studies as planned.

How to apply

Applying from overseas

If you need to come to the UK as a Tier 4 student to pursue your course, you must make your entry clearance (visa) application before you travel to the UK. If you are in the UK please read our information on applying for Tier 4 (General) from within the UK.

This flowchart – Your Tier 4 journey with us (applying overseas) (.pdf) will assist you to know what to do when.

  • Before making an application overseas

    • Make sure you are eligible and meet ALL the requirements - read the essential information and guidance from UKCISA and the Home Office.
    • Make sure you have the correct finances in place to meet the Tier 4 requirements as well as additional funds to pay your visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
    • Make sure you can receive your visa in time, check the Home Office visa processing times.
    • If you are aged 16 to 18 when you make your visa application, you must meet additional requirements and supply additional evidence. We are not licensed as a Tier 4 (Child) sponsor. You should not submit your Tier 4 (General) application before your 16th birthday otherwise it will be refused.
    • Your dependants - if you have family that you would like to bring with you to the UK check they are eligible to apply.

  • Where and when can I apply?

    • You can apply in the country where you normally live, up to three months before your course start date. It can take some time to obtain your visa so apply as soon as you are able.
    • You can only apply if you have a valid CAS.
    • It is recommended that you book your flight after you have received your passport and visa.
    • Check your entry clearance sticker to make sure all the information and conditions are correct, if there is an error contact the Entry Clearance Post and ask for it to be amended. See UKCISA guidance for details of what conditions you should expect to receive.

  • How do I apply?

    • You must submit your completed immigration application to your nearest Visa Application Centre.
    • For details of your nearest application centre and how to apply, see the Home Office's information about where to apply and select your country.
    • Read the guidance, including the guidance on supporting documents published by the Home Office.
    • If required, apply for and pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), if you are making a postal application you will need to include the ISH reference number on the cover sheet.
    • If you need to collect a BRP in the UK and are coming to study at the Colchester or Loughton Campus, select the University as an Alternative Collection Location (if you are coming to campus within 10 days of arriving in the UK).
    • Complete application form online, attend your biometric appointment.
    • Read the UKCISA guidance Making a Tier 4 (General) Application.

  • Further guidance

Applying from inside the UK

When you apply from within the UK you are applying for further leave to remain. You must make a valid application to the Home Office before your current visa expires.

If you are outside the UK please read our information on applying for Tier 4 (General) from overseas.

  • Before making an application in the UK


    • Make sure you are eligible to apply for Tier 4 (General) from within the UK and can meet all the requirements.
    • Make sure you have the correct finances in place to meet the Tier 4 requirements as well as additional funds to pay your visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
    • Read the essential information and guidance from the Home Office, UKCISA and SU Advice.
    • If you have dependants that you would like to stay with you or join you in the UK whilst you are studying, check if they are eligible to apply as your Tier 4 dependant.

  • My visa runs out before my course finishes

    Check when your visa should end. Read the Tier 4 Policy guidance ‘When can I come to the UK?’ and ‘How long can I come to the UK for?’ to find out how long you should have been given based on the course start and end dates stated on the CAS used. If you think your visa is incorrect, contact our International Services Team for further advice by completing our online enquiry form.

    If your current visa is correct and you haven't finished your course, you will need to apply to extend your visa before it expires. If you don't you may not be able to continue your studies as planned.

  • How and when do I apply?


    • If you are eligible to apply, you must do so before your current Tier 4 (General) visa expires
    • Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). You will need the reference number for your Tier 4 application.
    • Complete a Tier 4 (General) application online, you will choose whether to make a premium application and attend an in person appointment or a postal application
    • Send the cover sheet and all relevant documents to the Home Office within 15 days for a postal application
    • You will need a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)) from the University

    Please note:

    If you are starting a new course, you can apply in the UK up to three months before the course start date stated on the CAS provided there is not a gap of more than 28 days between the expiry date of your current visa and the start date of your new course.

    If you are currently studying at another institution in the UK and are starting a new course at Essex, before you can register and start your studies you will have to make a valid Tier 4 application using our CAS.

    If you are an Essex student who is starting a new course with us, before you can register and commence the new course you may need to make a new Tier 4 application. This will depend on your current visa expiry date, the new course end date and the level of the course you will be studying. More information is available to read in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance, section entitled ‘What do I do if I want to do a different course of study with my Tier 4 sponsor?’. If you unsure what this means for you please contact us.

  • Who can assist me with my application?

    SU Advice provides immigration advice to our students about extending a Tier 4 visa in the UK. You can read the guidance on their website and follow the links to UKCISA and Home Office information and guidance.

    We highly recommend you use the SUAC's check and send service. Students who do not use this service are more likely to receive a refusal and their application will take longer for the Home Office to process.