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.

If you are continuing the same course with us you may have to make your Tier 4 application overseas. You can apply as soon as you have a CAS. Your original course start date must be mentioned in the notes on the CAS, this is because the course start date on the CAS can only be input as the day after your current visa expires.

  • 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.

    Maintenance (funds) amounts

    The amount you will need will depend on which of our campuses 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 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.

    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 you pay after your CAS is produced or if you believe the amount shown is incorrect, please ask for it to be amended.

  • Immigration Health Surcharge

    The National Health Service provides emergency and secondary care in the UK. Some NHS treatment is provided free for everyone and you will normally be eligible to register with a General Practitioner (GP) surgery. 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 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 online you will be required to pay the surcharge, unless you are exempt.

    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.

    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 usually 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

    Studying for more than six months

    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 after your arrival in the UK you must collect your Biometric Residence Permit by the date your entry clearance vignette expires or within 10 days of your arrival in the UK (whichever is later). 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.

    Studying for up to six months

    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.

  • Entry clearance, BRP collection from the University

    When completing your Tier 4 application overseas, you will be asked to select where you will collect your Biometric Residence Permit from. Collection can be from a Post Office or an Alternative Collection Location (ACL) if available.

    Our University is an ACL for Colchester and Loughton Campus students. Southend Campus students should select the local post office which is a very short walk from campus. You must be able to collect your BRP by the date your entry clearance vignette expires or within 10 days of your arrival in the UK (whichever is later) from your chosen location.

    • Colchester Campus - ACL 2HE557
    • Loughton Campus - ACL 2HE557
    • Southend Campus - Southend-on-Sea Post Office, SS1 1LL

    More information about BRP collection.

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.

  • Who has to attend an interview

    Applying from overseas

    You can expect to receive a short credibility interview after you have submitted your application and before it's considered by an Entry Clearance Officer.

    Applying from the UK

    You might have to attend an interview. You are more likely to be invited for an interview if there are discrepancies between the supporting documents you have provided and the information included in your visa application form, or if the caseworker considering your application requests an interview in order to get more information before they can make a decision on your application.

    If you have previously studied a course which is at the same level as the new course you want to study and you received an academic progression justification statement alongside your CAS, you are also more likely to be invited to an interview. This is because the caseworker is required to assess whether the academic progression requirement is met. When making this assessment, the caseworker will consider:

    • the level of the courses
    • the subject matter of the new and previous courses
    • your education history
    • the credibility of your reasons for wishing to study the new course
    • whether the justification statement sufficiently explains why you are applying to study a course at the same level

    If you are invited to an interview, prepare to talk about reasons why you want to pursue the new course sufficiently.

  • Preparing for your interview

    What you might be asked

    If you are invited to attend a credibility interview, you will be asked a number of questions. The .pdf below gives you an idea of the type of things you may be asked.

    Life at Essex

    You may have seen one of our International Officers in your home country or found out about studying in the UK through an agent, UCAS or the British Council. Your department should provide you with more detailed information about your course. We have lots of resources available to you:


  • Attending your interview

    Please be aware that failure to attend an interview when invited may result in your visa application being refused.

    You are entitled to request a copy of your interview transcript and we highly recommend that you do this.

    Interview overseas

    The interview will take place at a (VAC) Visa Application centre as stated on the Home Office’s covering letter you have received. The interview will be conducted in English and therefore your ability to communicate in English will be tested.

    The interview will last around 30 minutes and will be via video link with a Home Office member of staff in the UK. The report of the interview will be typed up as it takes place and will be sent to the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) to consider as part of your application. If the ECO isn’t satisfied with the report they may ask you to attend a face to face interview.

    Interview in the UK

    You will need to make arrangements to go to a Home Office location. The closest to Essex is Croydon but you may have to travel further. You can expect to be interviewed for around 30 - 60 minutes and this will usually be conducted by Skype with a Home Office member of staff based in their offices in Sheffield in the UK.

    Your English language ability

    The interviewer will be checking your ability to converse well in English so make sure you speak clearly. The interviewer will be happy to repeat or clarify a question if necessary. If there is any technical issue that means you cannot hear clearly you should make sure that you raise this.

  • After your interview

    If you have any feedback you'd like to tell us about please email our advisers at intadv@essex.ac.uk.

    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 (new or same course)

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're continuing your course and need more time to complete it or have been studying in the UK and are starting a new course, you may be able to apply in the UK. Please read our information on applying for Tier 4 (General) from within the UK.

The Home Office have published some very basic guidance and top tips about applying for a Tier 4 visa overseas. Please read the full Immigration Rules and Policy Guidance together with the guidance from us and UKCISA to ensure you're eligible to apply, can meet all the Tier 4 requirements and provide all the documents necessary to make a successful application.


  • 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.
    • If you require an ATAS certificate, you will need to obtain it before you can get a CAS or make a Tier 4 application.
    • 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. 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?

    • If you are starting a new course, 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.
    • If you are continuing the same course you can apply as soon as you have a CAS. Check your CAS shows your original course start date in the notes as the start date on the CAS has to be recorded as the date after your current Tier 4 visa expires.
    • 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.
    • Do not leave your home country to travel to the UK until you have received back your passport containing your Tier 4 entry clearance sticker.

  • 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, pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
    • 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 (ACL).
    • Complete the Tier 4 (General) application form online, attend your biometric appointment and credibility interview.
    • Read the UKCISA guidance Making a Tier 4 (General) Application.

  • Further guidance

Applying from inside the UK (new or same course)

It is only possible to apply from within the UK if you are able to meet all the Tier 4 rules and requirements, including the academic progression rules updated from 6 April 2016. 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 applying overseas please read our information on applying for Tier 4 (General) from overseas.

  • Starting a new course

    If you are starting a new course you should meet the academic progression rules and should be able to apply in the UK, provided that the following applies:

    • you have a valid Tier 4 visa
    • you have completed your studies and been awarded the qualification for which your last Tier 4 visa was issued
    • your new course is at a higher level than the course you have completed
    • you are starting the new course within 28 days of the expiry of your current Tier 4 visa
    • you can meet all the Tier 4 rules and requirements

    Your CAS should show how you meet the academic progression rules. If academic progress isn't demonstrated you must apply in your home country. If you have been issued with your Essex CAS but are unsure if you meet the academic progression rules to apply in the UK, please contact our International Services Team by completing the online enquiry form. You can choose to apply in your home country overseas, see our guidance above.

  • Continuing on the same course

    When you're able to apply within the UK

    If you are continuing the same course you should be able to apply in the UK if you are making an application to:

    • repeat or resit part of your course (you must make this application before you start the repeat/resit year)
    • continue your PhD
    • finish your degree course after being a SU Sabbatical Officer
    • be an SU Sabbatical Officer after completing your degree course

    In these specific circumstances you are exempt from showing academic progression. Your CAS should state this. You can choose to apply in your home country overseas, see our guidance above about applying overseas.

    When you have to apply from your home country

    You'll have to apply for Tier 4 leave from your home country overseas if your course is longer because you have:

    • added a work placement
    • added a year abroad
    • previously repeated part of your course or taken resits
    • changed to a longer course before completion

    You can't apply in the UK because you won't meet the Home Office rules on academic progression (in place from 6 April 2016).

    You should read our guidance above about applying overseas. You will have to have your new Tier 4 visa in order to register to start the work placement year, year abroad or to register for the next academic year if you previously repeated or have changed to a longer course.

  • 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.
    • If you require an ATAS certificate, you will need to obtain it before you can get a CAS or make a Tier 4 application.
    • 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 for a new Tier 4 visa and may have to do so from your home country, overseas. You may not be able to continue your studies if you don’t have a visa for the whole duration of your course.

  • How and when do I apply?

    Application checklist

    • If you are eligible to apply, you must do so before your current Tier 4 (General) visa expires.
    • Complete a Tier 4 (General) application online and pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), if applicable.
    • You will then choose whether to make a premium application and attend an in person appointment or a postal application.
    • Send all relevant documents to the Home Office within the deadline given.
    • Have your biometrics taken within the deadline given.
    • Attend a credibility interview if you are asked to do so.
    • You will need a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)) from the University.

    Starting a new course

    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.

    Studying at another UK institution

    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.

    Current Essex students

    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 and you may have to do this overseas.

    This will depend on your current visa expiry date, the new course end date, the level of the course you will be studying and whether you have been awarded your qualification. More information is available to read in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance. If you are 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 SU Advice 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.

    If you are unsure if you can apply in the UK, please don’t make an application without checking. Contact the International Services Team by completing our online enquiry form.