Advice about arriving, living, and working in the UK

Advice on applying for a Student Visa  

The Tier 4 (General) student visa

If you are a national of a country which is outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland and you want to study in the UK on a course lasting longer than six months (or 11 months for some English Language courses) then you will need to apply for a Tier 4 student visa under the UK Points Based Immigration System. Check your visa requirements here – do you need a visa?

Obtaining a visa

The UK points based immigration system requires that you score 40 points in order to be issued with a  Tier 4 (General) student visa. You need to score these points in the following areas:

30 points for the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) – this is an electronic record sent to the UK Home Office by the University to confirm your details and your offer of a place at London Met. Find out how to obtain the CAS. Do not submit your Tier 4 visa application without the correct CAS number as it cannot be added at a later date. 

10 points for maintenance (tuition fees plus living costs) – please see the section Financial Requirements to find out how much money you will need.

Watch videos about the Tier 4 student visa application process

Here are two very helpful short videos which explain the Tier 4 student visa application process. One is set in India and the other one is set in China. However, they are really useful for all students who will be applying for entry clearance to the UK.

The more prepared you are before you make your visa application the less risk there is of making a mistake. In order to become more familiar with Home Office UK Visas and Immigration Department requirements please read this very useful advice from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)Applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa

All applicants should read the Home Office UKVI Tier 4 policy guidance before applying for the Tier 4 student visa.

Interviews - Credibility Testing

 

It is very possible that the UK Visas and Immigration Department of the Home Office will call you for a  Credibility Interview. The UK Home Office state that the purpose of any interview is to confirm that the applicant is a genuine student.

When called for an interview, the UKVI staff may ask you a number of questions about your immigration and education history, including why you intend to study in London, your study and post-study plans, your financial circumstances, whilst also assessing your English Language skills.

The questions will be asked via a video link with a member of staff from the Home Office .  The types of questions that you may be asked include: why you decided to study in the UK; why you decided to study at London Met and why the particular course; basic questions about the course content; your immigration history and previous education.  We advise that you make sure that you read information on your department's website to familiarise yourself with the course content for your particular programme.

You should be able to talk about the course content and not just list the modules.

We recommend that while you should not worry too much about the interview you should take some time to carefully prepare for the questions that may be asked.

What kind of questions will the Home Office ask me at the interview?

This will depend on your individual circumstances.   Here are some suggestions 

Your previous immigration history
  • you may be asked about any previous UK visas you have had
  • UKVI may want to know whether you have ever breached any of the conditions of your UK visas
  • UKVI may ask about any visas you have had for other countries around the world
Your previous study history, current study and post study plans
  • if there is a long gap between previous study and the new course you may be asked to explain why there has been a break
  • you will be asked for very clear information about your course and why you want to study at London Met.
  • you may be asked what are your plans after the course eg where do you want to work?
Your Finances
  • The UKVI may ask where your money has come from
  • you may be asked about your family's circumstances at home

Watch this film about applying for a Tier 4 student visa  .

If your Tier 4 visa application is successful you will receive an initial visa, valid for 30 days, that allows you to travel to the UK.  You will also receive a decision letter explaining the full details of your immigration permission. Your full visa length will be stated on the decision letter. It is very important that you keep the letter safe and bring it with you when you travel to the UK.

The decision letter will also inform you that you must collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from a specific Post Office within 10 days of arriving in the UK. Please note, the 30-day Tier 4 entry clearance vignette should have a valid from date based on your course start date. If your course is longer than 6 months, your 30-day Tier 4 entry clearance vignette should start one month before your course start date.

You will also need to provide a UK postcode of the area from which you intend to collect your BRP. This will most likely be where you intend to live, however, if you are travelling within the UK before you start the course, please enter a postcode from this area. If you have not arranged your accommodation at the time that you make the visa application you may use the postcode of the University campus. (Holloway campus: N7 8DB, Moorgate campus: EC2M 6SQ.)

What must I do if I have lost my decision letter and do not know which Post Office branch holds my biometric residence permit?

If you have lost your decision letter and cannot remember the Post Office branch holding your biometric residence permit or your BRP has not arrived or you need to report a problem with your new BRP, then you may report this through the online system found here: www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/need-brp

Further information on the Biometric Residence Permit:

Please read the guidance published by the Home Office

Getting to your designated Post Office:

In your decision letter, the address to your designated Post Office should be included. By using TFL Journey Planner, you can insert your start address (where you intend to travel from) and your destination address (designated Post Office) and it will generate a list of options. 

How long can you stay in the UK as a student?

The Home Office has a time limit of 5 years for degree level study. Any new Tier 4 application must lead to you spending no more than five years on courses at degree level. All previous visas under Tier 4 (or as a pre-Tier 4 student) count towards the 5 years AND this includes the short extra time you are given before the course (maximum one month) and after a course (maximum four months)

The 5-year limit does not apply if you are studying:

 

  • if you are applying to study a course at a higher education institution (HEI) and the 5-year cap would prevent you from completing a fifth academic year at degree level or above, then the limit is extended to five years and 11 months.
  • if you have successfully completed a UK degree course which was at least four years long, and you are making a Tier 4 application to study a Master's degree at a higher education institution (recognised body or institution in receipt of public funding), the limit is six years and 11 months
  • if your Tier 4 application is to study a PhD (or one of the postgraduate research qualifications listed in Annex 5 of the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance
  • if you have already completed a PhD (or one of the postgraduate research qualifications listed in Annex 5 of the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance in the UK, any new Tier 4 application is subject to an 8-year limit (including courses below degree level, but not including Tier 4 leave granted under the Doctorate Extension Scheme).
  • if you are applying to study on or continue a course in:                                    
    • architecture
    • medicine
    • dentistry
    • veterinary medicine and science
    • music at a conservatoire
  • this period of study will be exempt from the limit.

    • if you have completed a UK degree, and your current Tier 4 application is to study certain legal qualifications the legal qualification is exempt from the limit.  In England and Wales the relevant qualifications are a law conversion course, a Legal Practice Course  and the Bar Professional Training Course.  In Northern Ireland the relevant qualifications are a Masters in Legal Science (MLegSc), the Solicitors Course and the Bar Course.  In Scotland the relevant qualifications are an accelerated graduate LLB and a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice.

 

Please read the Home Office Tier 4 Policy Guidance before applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa.

What is a CAS?

The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

In order to enter the UK to start a course you will require a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). The CAS is an electronic record held on the UK Home Office database. The University gives the UKVI your personal details, including your passport number, your date of birth, your nationality and the details about your course, including the start and end date and the tuition fees that you have paid.

The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) is not an actual certificate or paper document, but is a number issued electronically. A CAS Number is the reference number unique to you and London Metropolitan University containing your CAS details. You will need your CAS number to apply for a UK Student Visa but this is not required in an official paper document capacity. 

Obtaining your CAS: to finish your current course

Students already studying at London Met and who need to extend their stay in the UK to complete their current course can apply to our Visa Compliance team who will assess your eligibility for a CAS. Please email visa.compliance@londonmet.ac.uk in order to find out more about how and when you can do this.

Obtaining your CAS: to start a new course

If you have just finished, or are due to finish a course with London Met and progress on to a follow-on programme you will need to apply for a new CAS from The International Admissions Team as a new student. You will be contacted with details about the process when you are holding an unconditional offer for your next course. To obtain a CAS you will need to follow the instructions we will send to you. The CAS Application Portal becomes available four months before the start of the course/semester you are joining.

You will be notified when the process becomes available to you, and where you can then begin the process in “My immigration information”. You will need to have accepted an Unconditional offer of study for your main academic course, or your pre-sessional English course (if applicable). You will then be able to proceed to request your CAS: 

  • Request your CAS and provide the requested documents and payment information
  • Confirm the draft of your information that we will send to the UK Home Office when we issue your Final CAS
  • View and use your Final CAS for your Visa application

Full details of the CAS process can be found on the web page: The CAS Application Portal

Documents required for a Tier 4 visa application

Before you apply for your visa you should ensure you have the original copies of the required documents. You should read the Gov.UK Home Office UKVI information for full details on which documents are required for your visa application.

You will need to provide the following documents with your application although you may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances:

  • qualification documents as listed in your CAS
  • English language documents as listed in your CAS
  • passport
  • financial documents to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds (see next section: Financial requirements)
  • translations of ANY documents not in English
  • 1 passport photograph - please read this guidance on the correct format of photos UK Visas and Immigration Photograph Guidance
  • your tuberculosis test result if you are from a country where you are required to take a test.

Please note that you may be required to provide additional documents and the online application will give you a personalised checklist of documents you must provide.

Financial requirements

The Tier 4 visa application requirements are very strict and it is easy to make a mistake which can lead to a visa refusal.  Please read all of the sections below and remember that we will ask you to provide correct and accurate evidence of your finances before we issue your final Confirmation for Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

The most common cause of visa refusals comes from presenting financial documents in the incorrect format.

How much money do you need to show?

To claim the 10 points for maintenance, you will need to show that you (or your parents) have held the required funds for a 28 day period ending no more than one month before the date of your application.

Course fees: You must have enough money to pay for the course fees for the first year of your course, or the entire course if it is less than one year long. Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) will state the fees that you will be required to pay. The UKVI will use the details in your CAS to confirm how much money you have already paid to the University, and how much of your fees you still need to pay. If you have not paid your full first year fee you will need to show you hold this money in your account.

Maintenance: Your accommodation and living costs are called maintenance. You must have a fixed amount of money to cover your maintenance. London Met is located in inner London, and therefore the Home Office, as of 12 November 2015, will require you to hold £1265 for each month of your course for the first nine months, or £1265 for each month if your course lasts less than nine months. This means that if you will be studying at London Met on a course that lasts one month only, the minimum amount that you will need is £1,265. If you will be studying on a course lasting nine months or more, the minimum amount that you will need is £11,385.

Note: This maintenance requirement is effective from 12 November 2015. If you think that you will be able to apply for a Tier 4 visa before 12 November 2015, then a different maintenance amount applies to you. For questions, please contact adviceinternational@londonmet.ac.uk.

Please note that a new Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £150 per year was introduced in April 2015 for students studying a course lasting 6 months or longer. This will entitle you to use the National Health Service at no extra cost during your stay in the UK. It will be refunded only where an application for leave to enter or remain is refused. From 5 July 2015, the IHS will be automatically calculated and paid for as part of the online Tier 4 application.

Further details of the NHS Surcharge can be found on the GOV.UK website.

If you need any further explanation of these requirements then please contact the International Student Adviser at adviceinternational@londonmet.ac.uk

Preparing your documents: general advice

When preparing your finances it is important you observe the following advice:

  • It is often a good idea to show more money than you need because exchange rates may change slightly during the 28 day period.
  • The balance in your account must not drop below the required amount, even by £1, for a single day.
  • Do not use any of the money in the account until after your visa has been issued to you.
  • The bank statements that you provide must be no more than 31 days old.
  • Use the official exchange rate website www.oanda.com to convert your currency to pounds sterling.
  • Some financial institutions are not accepted by the Home Office. Check this list of authorised and unauthorised financial institutions. 

Example only: calculating your financial requirements for your Tier 4 visa application

If your course fee is, for example, £10,500 AND

You have paid or intend to pay £5,250 (50% of your tuition fees) to obtain your CAS AND

You intend to pay the remaining fees at your enrolment or thereafter (£5,250)

THEN

Your bank statement must demonstrate that you have a total of £16,635. This includes £11,385 (standard maintenance requirement for a course lasting nine months or longer) AND £5,250 (remaining tuition fees).

Financial documents

 

In order to be eligible for the 10 maintenance points you will need to provide very specific financial documents as outlined in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance .

You can demonstrate that you have enough money by providing one of the following :

  1. Personal paper bank statements
  2. Electronic bank statements
  3. Official letter from an authorised bank confirming funds
  4. Official letter from an authorised financial institution confirming loan funds

  

Which Financial Institutions are accepted? 

Please note that there are some financial institutions that are not accepted by the Home Office UK Visas and Immigration department .  

The list of these institutions can be found here in the Immigration Rules: Appendix P 

 

Can I use my parent's bank account? 

Yes, the funds must be held either in your own name or your parent's or legal guardian's name.   If you would like to use your parent's funds then you will need to also provide:

  • your original birth or adoption certificate showing the names of your parents or court document naming your legal guardian
  • a letter from your parents which confirms the relationship between you and your parents and which also give consent to you using their funds for your education in the UK.

 

How do I show I have an official financial sponsor? 

An official financial sponsor can be your own or the UK government, the British Council or any international organisation, international company, university or an independent school.  

You must provide a letter from the sponsor on official letter-headed paper which must include all of the following:

  • your name
  • the name and contact details of the official financial sponsor
  • the date of the letter
  • the length of the sponsorship
  • the amount of money the sponsor is giving to you or a statement that your official financial sponsor will cover all of your fees and living costs.

If you will be receiving sponsorship from an official financial or government sponsor which does not cover all of the fees and maintenance, then please remember that you will have to show that you have the rest of the required maintenance in your own, or parent's name. 

If the sponsorship also covers your dependents then the letter confirming sponsorship must include the names of your dependents.  

 

Your financial documents must be presented in the correct format  

 

  • Original paper/electronic statements

Personal bank statements, either original or electronic, covering a consecutive 28 day period ending no more than 31 days before the date of your application, must include all of the following:

  • Your name, or the name of parent/legal guardian if applicable
  • Your account number,
  • Your bank's name and logo,
  • The amount of funds in your account (the balance should show that there are sufficient funds in your account to cover the cost of any unpaid tuition fees and the required maintenance funds)
  • The funds required must have been in your bank account for a continuous period of 28 days
  • Your statements must not be more than one month old

If you are using electronic bank statements then each page must be stamped by the bank or your bank must issue a letter confirming the authenticity of your electronic bank statements.

 

  • Bank letter

You can provide a bank letter confirming funds have been held for a consecutive 28 day period ending no more than 31 days before the date of your application. This can be the easiest and most simple way to provide the evidence that you have the correct amount of maintenance .  The letter must include all of the following:

  • your name, or the name of your parent/legal guardian 
  • the date of the letter
  • the account number
  • the financial institution's name and logo
  • the amount of funds in your account  - this must be sufficient to cover the cost of any unpaid tuition fees and the required maintenance funds
  • written confirmation that the funds listed have been in your bank account for a continuous period of 28 days and that the balance has not fallen below the required amount
  • any letter issued by your bank must be used to apply for a visa within 31 days of the closing balance date indicated

 

  • Loan funding document

A letter confirming educational loan funds must include the following:

  • Your full name
  • The date of the letter
  • The loan provider/financial institution's name and logo
  • The funds available as a loan
  • that the loan is provided by your national government , their state or regional government, a government sponsored student loan company or is part of an academic or educational loans scheme
  • The letter confirming your loan funding must be dated no more than six months before the date your visa application.

 

Dependants

You can bring certain family members to the UK as your Tier 4 dependant only if either:

  • you are doing a postgraduate level course (NQF Level 7 or above) of 12 months or longer at a Higher Education Institution or 
  • you are sponsored by your government and your course is over six months or 
  • you are a Doctorate Extension Scheme student

Family members (dependants) are any of the following:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner
  • your unmarried or same sex partner
  • your children aged under 18

Please note that although Tier 4 dependants are permitted to work there are some restrictions relating to the type of work that can be undertaken for example working as a sportsperson or sports coach is not permitted.   New rules on the level of work that is permitted are due to be introduced.  Unskilled work will no longer be permitted.

You should carefully read the Guidance for dependants of UK Visa holders for full details .   

If you are eligible to bring your family with you to the UK as your dependants please read this UKCISA information for further details of how they can apply - Dependants

 

Home Office UK Visas and Immigration information on dependants can be found here

ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) Certification

 

If you are a non-EU/Non EEA citizen planning to undertake some research based postgraduate study in the UK in certain science, engineering or technology disciplines, then you may need to acquire an ATAS certificate before you can apply for a visa to come into the UK, or renew an existing visa for the UK. Holders of other types of visas such as Tier 2 will now also be required to obtain an ATAS certificate.

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) has been introduced by the UK government in order to "ensure that people who are studying in the UK in sensitive subjects do not have links to Weapons of Mass Destruction Programmes".

If you require an ATAS certificate, this would normally have been requested during the application stage. It will also be stated on your Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). For full details on the ATAS certificate and requirements see the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Website.

Health (TB) Screening Requirements

 
Nationals from certain countries where there is a high incidence of tuberculosis are now required to have a health screening at an approved clinic before they are granted a visa for the UK.  If required, you will need to provide the health certificate with your immigration application. 

Please check the Immigration Rules Appendix T for the list of countries whose nationals are required to have the Tuberculosis screening and also for details of where to find the approved screening clinics .

Information on the new Immigration Health Surcharge

People who need immigration permission to come to or stay in the UK for longer than six months will now be charged an additional sum as part of their immigration application. This will entitle them to receive free health services under the National Health Service. 

The Tier 4 online application form will now automatically calculate how much of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) applicants have to pay and they will be able to make the IHS payment as part of their Tier 4 visa application. Please note, applicants who enter the IHS portal will have 30 minutes to complete the payment and return to the visa application. If applicants fail to complete within 30 minutes, they will have to re-start the visa application and will need to make another IHS payment.

How much will this cost?

The Health Charge for Tier 4 students is £150 per year. Each Tier 4 Dependant will also be charged £150 per year. 

If this period of leave includes part of a year that is six months or less, the amount payable for that part of a year is half the specified amount, ie £75 for students and their dependants. If the period of leave includes part of a year that is more than 6 months, the full £150 annual amount is payable.

For example:

If you are going to study on a 12-month course, then you are likely to receive leave that starts one month before the start of your course, and ends four months after the end of your course.

If you include the period of leave allowed before the course starts and after the course ends (1 month and 4 months respectively), then that adds up to a total of 17 months of leave. This means that you will have to pay £150 (12 months) + £75 (additional 5 months, so less than six months) = £225.

Who is exempt from the Health Charge?

  • Nationals of Australia, New Zealand*, or British Overseas Territories Citizens who are resident in the Falkland Islands 
  • Those making an application for Entry Clearance of six months or less

*Please note, nationals of Australia and New Zealand who apply on or after 6 April 2016 for immigration permission to come to the UK will no longer be exempt from paying the immigration health charge.

Further details of the NHS Surcharge can be found here.

For further Information please contact the International Student Advisers on adviceinternational@londonmet.ac.uk

Submitting a Tier 4 (General) student visa application 

Making a visa application

Applications are made online unless you are applying from North Korea, in which case you must apply in person. You can find full details of the Tier 4 visa application process on the GOV.UK website

To start the application process you will need to register/apply on the GOV.UK website and then complete the online form in English. After paying the application fee (currently £335) you must book an appointment at your nearest visa application centre in order to submit your biometric details (fingerprints and facial image).

You should read the Home Office UKVI Tier 4 policy guidance very carefully before you begin the application.

When should I apply for my Tier 4 General visa?

You should begin to prepare your application as early as possible as the whole process can take a long time. If you leave it too late your visa may not be granted in time and you will be unable to join your course. London Met cannot permit students to join their course after the latest enrolment date as stated in your Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). For more information, take a look at the dates and deadlines for international students.

The date when you apply for your visa (entry clearance) must be:

  1. before you have travelled to the UK
  2. no more than three months before the start date of your course
  3. no later than six months after your CAS was issued

Your visa start date will be no more than one month before the actual start date of your course.

You can find out more about how long it will take to process your application on the GOV.UK website.

Useful links


Here are some useful links to help you find out more information about Preparing and planning, Arriving, your fees and finance, applying for a Visa, information about dependants, studying in the UK, and more.

Website aids

Contact details

The International student advisers are available for advice on a range of issues including visas and immigration.

The service is regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC)

International student advisers

email: adviceinternational@londonmet.ac.uk

telephone:       +44 (0)20 7133 4186

appointments:  +44 (0)20 7133 4186

Immigration information from London Met

Obtaining your CAS: New Students

Find out when and how you can get your CAS

If you are a non EU/EEA national you will need a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) as part of your student Visa application.

Living, working and studying in the UK

find out about living costs, opening a bank account, health and registration with an NHS doctor, working during your studies, your Visa responsibilities, and more.

Log in to the Applicant Portal (Evision)

Use the applicant portal (Evision) to keep up to date with the progress of your admission.

Video advice for International students

We have comprised a number of videos form our staff at London Met to give you some helpful advice about your immigration to London