Tier 4 Visas

Tier 4 is part of the points-based system for immigration. It is for migrants who want to study in the UK. Depending on your nationality and circumstances, you may be able to study in the UK without needing to apply under Tier 4 (General) as an adult student. However, there may be restrictions on your ability to work while you are studying in the UK.

As a Tier 4 (General) student, you must have 40 points in UKBA points assessment. You can score:
-30 points for having a valid confirmation of acceptance for studies, which you get for studying a course at an acceptable level with an approved education provider (also known as a ‘Tier 4 sponsor’), and for having acceptable English language skills; and
-10 points for having enough money (also known as maintenance or funds) to cover your course fees and living costs.

Course of Study
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You must study a course at an acceptable level, and there are additional requirements for certain types of course. You can do a work placement as part of your course, and a short preparatory course (if you need one) before your main course of study.

As well as being at an acceptable level, your course must be provided by an education provider which is a licensed Tier 4 (General) sponsor.

Education Provider
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If a UK education provider wants to teach international students, it must apply to us for a Tier 4 sponsor licence. If we approve the education provider’s application, we will give it a licence and add it to our register of Tier 4 sponsors.
Only a Tier 4 sponsor can assign confirmations of acceptance for studies (CASs) to international students. To score enough points to become a Tier 4 student, you will need a CAS, so you must check that the provider of your chosen course is a licensed Tier 4 sponsor.

English Language Skills
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If your confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) was assigned to you before 21 April 2011, your education provider must ensure that you are competent in English at a minimum of level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) unless:
-your course is at or above level 6 of the revised National Qualifications Framework (equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree); or
-your course is a foundation degree, or an HND in Scotland; or
-your course is a pre-sessional course that you will take before taking a degree course in the UK; or
-you are a government-sponsored student who wants to study an English language course; or
-you are a national of a majority English-speaking country (see below).

You must still meet the English language requirement if you want to study an English language course (unless you are covered by one of the exemptions above).

If your CAS was assigned to you on or after 21 April 2011, your education provider must ensure that:
-you are competent in English language at a minimum of CEFR level B2, if you will be enrolling on a course at NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9 or above (unless you are a gifted student studying at a higher education institution – see below); or
-you are competent in English language at a minimum of CEFR level B1, if you will be enrolling on a course at NQF 3-5/QCF 3-5/SCQF 6-8; or
-you are a national of a majority English-speaking country (see below).

If you do not meet the English language requirement, your education provider cannot assign a CAS to you.

Interview with UKBA Officers
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If you are applying to Tier 4 from overseas, you may be required to attend an interview with UK Border Agency officers, either as part of your visa application or when you arrive in the UK. If you are required to attend an interview and you cannot show at that interview that your English language ability is at the required standard, they may refuse your application or refuse to let you enter the UK.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies
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Before you can apply for permission to enter or remain in the UK under Tier 4 (General), your education provider must assign a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) to you. This confirms that you have been given an unconditional offer of a place on a course of study with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor.

If you have a valid CAS, you can score 30 points in UKBA points assessment. However, this will not guarantee that your application will be successful – you will also need to meet the other Tier 4 (General) requirements.

Availability of Funds
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The money you will need depends on the length of your course and the location where you will study. You must show that you can pay your course fees for your first period of study (or for your next period of study, if you are applying to continue a course) and your living costs for up to nine months.

You will not have access to most state benefits (also known as ‘public funds’) during your stay in the UK, and the amount of work you can do is limited. So it is important for you to have enough money to support yourself while you are there.