Tier 4 Study Visa for Students

Under the Immigration Act of 1971, Parts 3 and 6A cover the laws laid out by the United Kingdom government for anyone willing to come to the country for study purposes. While Part 3 of the Immigration Act is a more general definition of the laws detailing the points based system of any visa category, Part 6A covers the Tier 4 category for applicants applying for study purposes. This article goes in detail to explain the laws laid out by the United Kingdom government for students willing to enter the country for study purposes while keeping the points based system in mind.

Tier 4 (General) Students visa category for Adults

For any adult who wishes to enter the UK for study purposes, he or she must first have a letter of acceptance from the educational institution that has offered the applicant admission. The laws laid out by the government consider any applicant who is 18 years or older to be an adult.

The applicant must provide significant proof to the United Kingdom government that he or she will be willing to leave the country once the studies end. He or she must also give evidence that proves the financial situation of the student is sufficient to sustain his or her time in the UK during study period and that he or she has enough to pay for accommodation. It is not allowed to show that a friend or a relative is willing to financially support him or her and must show finances that belong to yourself. This is laid out so that, if in the possible scenario that the financial sponsor backs out during the applicant’s stay, the student is financially capable of paying for accommodation for itself.

You are allowed to switch from any other visa category to the Tier 4 Student visa category or claim any benefits available to the public. You can also switch to other visa types like the Tier 1 visa or t1 entrepreneur visa, after your studies have been completed by fulfilling Tier 1 visa requirements.

The UKBA, which is responsible for handling such applications, will need your fingerprints and picture ID for when you are applying.

Are you allowed to work in the UK if you’re a student studying on the Tier 4 visa?

The student is only allowed to work ten to twenty hours a week during the duration of their courses and is only allowed to work full time during vacation time period.

How many points (from the points based system) do I need to apply for the Tier 4 visa as an adult student?

A total of 40 points is needed. You can gain 30 points for showing your acceptance letter from the educational institution that has offered you admission and also if your command over the English language is acceptable in the eyes of the government. You can get the rest of the 10 points by showing that you are financially capable of sustaining your stay in the UK and paying for accommodation.

How do you apply for the Tier 4 (General) Student visa?

The applicant will be required to visit a visa application center in his or her area (www.gov.uk/find-a-visa-application-centre) and submit fingerprint and photograph ID. Any person wanting to apply can submit application online 3 months before studies start.

Can I arrive in the United Kingdom earlier than when my courses commence? 

If the duration of the course is longer than six months, you can come to the country a month before. If it is less than six months, you can come a week before the course commencement.

Can I switch over from another visa type to Tier 4 (General) visa type?

If you are applying from the general or child category of the Tier 2 visa, you can switch to the Tier 4 (General) Student visa category. You can also switch to this category if you are applying from the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer category or the Minister of religion category.

If the current Tier 2 visa type that you are in includes dependants on your current application, you can have your stay extended. You will be required to submit biometric information (Fingerprint and photograph ID) for this category along with paying the healthcare surcharge.

Why do I need to provide biometric information when applying on the Tier 4 student visa?

This measure has been taken to stop fake educational institutes and fake students from coming to the United Kingdom. Foreign students need to have biometric ID. They are given a card that they must keep with them. Foreign students who wish to apply for an extension also must submit biometric information.

Can I stay and seek a job after my studies in the United Kingdom are completed?

Foreign students who fall in the European Economic Area (EEA) can stay and work in the United Kingdom after their studies are completed. If you are a non-EEA applicant, it is still allowed to stay for work upon review by the UKBA. You will need to work in a job that qualifies on a graduate level salary.

Generally, overseas students who graduate can stay in the United Kingdom if they are able to secure a graduate level job. Once a job has been secured by the overseas graduate, you can switch over to the Tier 2 General category on a work visa.

You can also switch over to the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme. Graduates who have studied for an MBA can choose to apply for the tier 1 entrepreneur visa application to remain in the country for at least a year under a recent ‘Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme’ started by the United Kingdom government. This scheme holds for one thousand graduates of the MBA program. This is done so that graduates can work on a prospective business plan or idea and have sufficient time to act upon it inside the United Kingdom. They can also stay to initiate a start-up which will enable them to stay in the country as an entrepreneur. But, the United Kingdom government has recently started noticing that overseas graduates who have secured an MBA are switching over to the entrepreneur status so they can extend their stay in the United Kingdom. The UK government found evidence from tax returns of these overseas graduates that the tier 1 entrepreneur visa application was being abused while workers were involved in jobs that didn’t require high skill. From now on, the government is monitoring every applicant who wishes to apply for this visa by only allowing graduates with a genuine business idea. They will also need to provide extra proof of their activities.

Applicants can further switch over to the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, the UK Ancestry Visa, if they can provide evidence that a grandparent of yours was born in the United Kingdom. You can choose to switch over to the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange visa if you wish to stay in the United Kingdom for a short period of time or for training purposes.

If I am applying for an extension on my Tier 4 Student visa, do I need to contact a sponsor?

Yes, written proof from a government approved sponsor is required for your application to be approved.

Tier 4 Student Child visa category

The Tier 4 student visa category for children holds for anyone between the ages of 4 and 17. Children applying under this category are not allowed to study at public schools and must apply at private schools. The only public schools in which the applicant can gain admission are the ones that have a separate fee structure for international students.

The course that the applicant wishes to study in must be through an educational institution that has a Tier 4 (Child) sponsor license. Again, the applicant must show significant proof that he or she is capable of sustaining himself financially and has made arrangements during stay in the UK.

For child visitors who wish to study for short durations such as a single course (such as a foreign exchange program), they can apply in the ‘Child Visitor’ category and can stay for a period of 6 months. They can stay for a year if they are with an adult visitor who is there for academic purposes. But, you cannot switch to any other category on this visa category.

How long can I stay in the United Kingdom on the Tier 4 Student Child visa?

You can stay in the country as long as the duration of your course. You are also given an additional 4 months to stay but this period can be changed by the government.

How many points do I need to be accepted in the Tier 4 Student Child visa category?

Like the previous category for adult students, a total of 40 points is required. 30 points are given when evidence of acceptance at an educational institution is provided. Note that the UKBA only accepts acceptance letters from educational institutes is considered a Tier 4 sponsor.

10 points are awarded for showing proof that you are financially capable of paying for accommodation and other costs while in the United Kingdom.

Tier 4 Student Visitor category

For applicants over the age of 18 years who wish to apply for a short duration, they can do so on the Tier 4 Student Visitor category. The maximum period they can stay in this category is up to six months. They can stay for a longer period of eleven months if they are applying to study a course in the English language.

You cannot switch to any other category on this visa type.

Tier 4 Prospective Student visa category

If a student wishes to attend an educational institute where he or she has been offered an interview opportunity or has chances of being accepted, they can apply in this category. It can be for the reason that the university or any other educational institute that has asked you to come for an interview. Once the university has offered you admission, you are allowed to switch to the Tier 4 general visa category or the Tier 4 Child category.

The United Kingdom Visas and Immigration office will ask you the courses you wish to study and whether you have approached the institute in question regarding your admission process or not. It is necessary that you submit some form of written proof that the University has shortlisted or considers you a prospective applicant.

You must also show that you are willing to leave once your period of stay has ended and will not overstay your time in the country. You must also show the government that you are financially capable of studying for the course you are applying in plus the cost of your current stay in the United Kingdom.

What am I not allowed to do on a Tier 4 Prospective Student visa?

Unlike other visa types such as the tier 1 visa or t1 entrepreneur visa, you are not allowed to take any form of employment while on the prospective student visa or make any form of sales to the citizens of the United Kingdom. You are also not allowed to marry or be the beneficiary of any form of medical treatment.

You must also prove that you have money to return to your home country or wherever you wish to leave to after your stay in the United Kingdom. You must also be over the age of eighteen and stay for no more than 6/11 months. You are also not allowed to cross over to the Common Travel Area of the United Kingdom.