Applying for your Tier 4 Visa

Find out more about applying for a Tier 4 visa.


  • Who should apply for a Tier 4 visa?

    You should apply for a Tier 4 visa if:

    • You are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national; and
    • You will study at Ulster University for more than 6 months; or
    • You will study at Ulster University for less than 6 months and you must undertake a work placement as part of your studies

    You may also apply for a Tier 4 visa if you will study at Ulster University for less than 6 months and you would like permission to work part-time during your stay with us.  If this is the case for you, please contact the Compliance team for advice.

  • When can I apply for my Tier 4 visa?

    You can apply for your Tier 4 visa as soon as you have received your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from us.

  • What is a CAS?

    Your CAS is an electronic document that confirms to the UK Home Office that Ulster University has made you an unconditional offer of study

  • When will I get my CAS?

    We can only issue your CAS a maximum of 3 months before your course starts.

    When you have met all the conditions of your offer to study at Ulster University and you have paid your deposit (if applicable), we will ask you to send us the financial documents that you will use to make your Tier 4 visa application. We will also ask you to submit a TB certificate (if applicable).

    We will issue your CAS when we have checked that all your documents meet the Tier 4 visa requirements.

  • How will I get my CAS?

    We will email your CAS to you from CASStatements@ulster.ac.uk.

  • What does my CAS look like?

    Your CAS is an electronic document that includes:

    • CAS number (this is unique to you)
    • Your personal details
    • Ulster University’s details, including our sponsor licence number
    • Details of your course, including start date, end date, course title, latest date of enrolment
    • Your study location (campus) address
    • Details of how we assessed your English language level
    • Academic progression details (if you have previously studied in the UK)
    • A list of documents (your previous qualifications) that we used to make your offer of a place on the course
    • Details of your tuition fees, including any fees that you have already paid
    • Work placement details (if your course includes a work placement)
  • Errors on your CAS

    It is important that you make sure that all of the details in your CAS are correct. Please email us immediately at compliance@ulster.ac.ukif you notice any errors on your CAS.  We will need to correct any errors before you make your Tier 4 visa application.

  • Your CAS and your Tier 4 visa application

    You must enter your CAS number in the relevant section of your Tier 4 visa application form.

    You can only use a CAS for one Tier 4 visa application. If your visa application is refused, you must request a new CAS. We can only issue you with a new CAS when you have sent us your full refusal notice and if we are satisfied that you will be able to meet the requirements for a new Tier 4 visa application.

    If you have any questions regarding your CAS or would like any other information please contact the Compliance team.

  • How do I apply for a Tier 4 visa from outside the UK?

    If you are making your Tier 4 visa application from outside the UK you must apply in your home country or normal country of residence.

    When to apply 

    You must apply for your Tier 4 visa before you travel to the UK and start your studies at Ulster.

    You will need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) in order to apply for a Tier 4 visa.  You may apply for your visa up to 3 months before the course start date on your CAS.

    If you are applying for your Tier 4 visa in August or September, we recommend that you use the priority service to ensure that you receive your visa in time to travel to the UK and start your studies at Ulster

    How long will it take?

    UKVI aims to process Tier 4 visa applications submitted through the standard service within 15 working days.  However, it can take longer than this depending on when and where you make your application. The peak period for Tier 4 applications is between July and September. We recommend that you submit your Tier 4 visa application as soon as you can.

    If you would like your visa to be processed more quickly, you can pay an additional fee to fast-track your application.  This is known as priority service and is available at most visa application centres.  Other services including a walk-in service and prime time appointments are available at some visa application centres.

    Check the current visa processing times.

    How to apply 

    Step 1 - Submit an online Tier 4 visa application form

    Step 2 - Attend a visa application centre to submit your supporting documents and provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph).

    If you are applying in the USA, New Zealand and some cities in Australia, the process may differ slightly.

    Check the advice and different services available for a Tier 4 visa application from your country.

    Step 3 – Receive your documents and your visa.  You may be able to choose to collect your documents or have them delivered to you by post.

    How much does it cost?

    The cost of a Tier 4 visa application is £348.  You may pay more for additional services.

    You will pay an Immigration Health Surcharge when you pay your Tier 4 visa application fee.

    Credibility interview 

    You may be asked to attend a credibility interview as part of your Tier 4 visa application process. Failing a credibility interview is one of the main reasons why Tier 4 visa applications are refused.

    The interview will be conducted by a member of Home Office staff who will assess whether you are a 'genuine student' and have the required level of English language proficiency.

    You may be asked detailed questions about your new course of study, your previous UK study and immigration history, how you will fund your studies and the reasons you have chosen to study your course in the UK and at Ulster University.

    It is essential that you answer all questions at your interview clearly and in detail.

    Help and support with your application

    If you need help to complete and submit your Tier 4 visa application, please contact global@ulster.ac.uk

  • How do I apply for a Tier 4 Visa from inside the UK?

    If you are already in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, or in certain other visa categories, you may be able to apply for leave (permission) to remain in the UK on a Tier 4 visa from within the UK.

    Please note:

    • You must apply for a new Tier 4 visa before your current visa expires, otherwise you will become an overstayer and will not have valid permission to be in the UK.
    • If you are already in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you can only apply to extend your Tier 4 visa from inside the UK if you fulfil the academic progression requirements.
    • If there is a gap of more than 28 days between the expiry date of your Tier 4 visa and your new course start date, you must leave the UK and apply for a new Tier 4 visa from outside the UK.
    • If you currently have permission to be in the UK in another immigration category, you will need to check whether you are eligible to change (switch) to a Tier 4 visa from inside the UK.  You can do this on the UKVI website. You cannot switch to a Tier 4 visa in the UK from a dependant’s visa, Visitor visa, Short-term Student visa or a Tier 5 visa.
    • If there is a gap of more than 28 days between your Tier 4 visa expiring and your new course start date, you must leave the UK and apply for a new Tier 4 visa from outside the UK.

    How to apply for a Tier 4 visa 

    The application processing time and cost varies depending on the service you choose. If you want to get a decision more quickly than the standard 8 weeks, you can apply:

    • for priority service – your application will be considered more quickly. There is a limited number of priority service places available each day; or
    • to use a premium service centre– you will need to attend in person

    Application type

    Time for a decision

    Cost per person

    Standard

    1. weeks

    £475

    Priority

    1. days

    £952

    Premium

    Same day

    £1,085

    You will also pay an Immigration Health Surcharge when you pay your Tier 4 visa application fee.

    Standard application

    Step 1 – Submit your online Tier 4 visa application form.

    Step 2 - Submit your supporting documents by courier or post

    Step 3 – Attend an approved Post office to provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph)

    Step 4 – When your visa has been processed, you will receive your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) by post or courier

    Priority application

    Step 1 – Apply for the priority service

    Step 2 – If you receive an email to say that you have been accepted for the priority service, you must submit your online Tier 4 visa application form within 24 hours.

    Step 3 – Submit your supporting documents by courier or post

    Step 4 – Attend an approved Post Office to provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph). You must do this within 2 working days.

    Step 5 - When your visa has been processed, you will receive your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) by post or courier

    Premium application

    Step 1 – Apply online to book an appointment at a premium service centre

    Step 2 – Attend your appointment at the premium service centre. You will need to take all your supporting documents with you.  You will provide your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) at the premium service centre.

    Step 3 – Your visa should be processed on the day of your appointment.

    Credibility interview 

    You may be asked to attend a credibility interview as part of your Tier 4 visa application process. It is important that you prepare for your credibility interview so you are able to explain your answers clearly and in detail.  You will be asked questions about your new course of study, your previous UK study and immigration history, how you will fund your studies and the reasons you have chosen to study in the UK at Ulster University.

    The interview will be conducted by a member of Home Office staff who will assess whether you are a 'genuine student' and have the required level of English language proficiency.

    Help and support with your application

    If you need help to complete and submit your Tier 4 visa application, please contact global@ulster.ac.uk

  • Immigration Health Surcharge

    The UK has a healthcare system which is paid for through taxes.  All UK nationals and most residents have equal access to the National Health Service (NHS) without being charged each time they visit a doctor or hospital.

    The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) has been introduced to help fund the NHS, and will give migrants the same access to the NHS as UK citizens.  You will pay the IHS when you apply for your visa.

    Who has to pay the IHS? 

    If you make your visa application outside the UK, you will have to pay the IHS when you apply for a visa for a period of longer than six months.

    If you make your visa application within the UK, you will have to pay the IHS when you apply for a visa of any length.

    Who does not need to pay the IHS? 

    You do not need to pay the IHS if you are applying for a visitor visa or for a visa for 6 months or less from outside the UK.  You will not need to pay the IHS if you are applying for a Short-term Study visa.

    How much does the IHS cost? 

    As a Tier 4 student, you will pay £300 for each year of your visa. You will pay £150 for part of a year that is less than six months.

    For example, if you are studying a three-year course, you will be charged £1050 (£300 for each year of the course, plus £150 for the four-month period at the end of your visa).

    Dependants usually need to pay the same amount as you.

    You can check how much you will have to pay using the IHS calculator

    Is anyone exempt from the charge? 

    Anyone applying for entry clearance for less than six months, and academic visitors coming to the UK for up to 12 months (even if they are here for more than six months) do not have to pay the surcharge.

    UKCISA - Health and healthcare

    When do I pay the IHS? 

    You must make your payment by debit/credit card as part of your online visa application.

    For more information on the IHS, please see link below:

    Information about the IHS

  • Financial Requirements of your Tier 4 visa

    Your financial documents are one of the most important parts of your Tier 4 visa application. Submitting financial documents in an incorrect format is the main reason why Tier 4 visa applications are refused. 

    To meet the Tier 4 financial requirements, you must be able to prove that you have enough money to pay for:

    • The first year of your tuition fees; or
    • Your whole tuition fee if the programme is less than one year;or
    • The next academic year's fees, or outstanding fees if you are extending your visa to continue your studies; and
    • Your living costs.

    You must prove that you have at least £1,015 per month of your studies (up to a maximum of 9 months) for your living costs.

    There are three ways in which you can prove that you meet the financial requirements.

    Download a copy of our Tier 4 Financial Requirements guide.

  • Other required documents

    We have provided a checklist of documents which you may be required to submit with your visa application.

  • Low risk applicants

    The UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) has introduced ‘differentiation arrangements’ for low risk applicants.

    You are a low risk applicant if you are a national of one of the following countries:

    • Argentina
    • Australia
    • Bahrain
    • Botswana
    • Brunei
    • Cambodia
    • Canada
    • Chile
    • China
    • Dominican Republic
    • Indonesia
    • Japan
    • Kuwait
    • Macau SAR
    • Malaysia
    • Maldives
    • Mexico
    • New Zealand
    • Qatar
    • Serbia
    • Singapore
    • South Korea
    • Thailand
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • United Arab Emirates (UAE)
    • United States of America (USA)

    You will also be be a low risk applicant if you hold one of the following passports and you make your Tier 4 visa application in the UK or from the country or territory related to one of the passports below:

    • British National (Overseas)
    • Hong Kong
    • Taiwan (those who hold a passport issued by Taiwan that includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan)

    The list of low risk applicants is updated regularly so please check https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-h-tier-4-documentary-requirementsbefore you submit your Tier 4 visa application.

    As a low risk national you must confirm on your Tier 4 visa application that you have enough money to meet the Tier 4 financial requirements, however, you do not normally need to provide any evidence of this when you submit your Tier 4 visa application.  In addition, you do not need to submit evidence of the qualifications on which your offer to study at Ulster University were made.

    Please note that you could later be asked to provide evidence of your finances and your qualifications, so you should not apply for your Tier 4 visa if you would not be able to provide this evidence if requested to do so.  If you are asked to provide evidence and you are unable to do so by the given deadline, your Tier 4 visa application will be refused.

  • What will my Tier 4 visa look like?

    30-day visa vignette (sticker) 

    If you applied for your Tier 4 visa from outside the UK, you will be given a visa vignette (sticker) in your passport.  The visa vignette contains basic details about you and your Tier 4 visa permission, and is valid for 30 days.  It will allow you to travel to the UK.  You will need the visa vignette to enter the UK and collect your Biometric Residence Permit.

    An Immigration Officer will stamp your vignette with an entry stamp confirming your date of entry to the UK when you go through UK immigration control.

    Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) 

    Your BRP is a credit card-size card that contains your biometric details (your fingerprints and a photograph of your face) and details of your Tier 4 visa.

    You must collect your BRP within 10 days of arriving in the UK.

  • Collecting your BRP

    We recommend that you choose to have your BRP delivered to the Compliance team at Ulster University.  In order to do this, you must choose to collect your BRP from an' alternative location' and input ACL code 2HE597 when you complete your Tier 4 visa application form.  Your BRP will be delivered to the Compliance team at Ulster University.

    If you choose to have your BRP delivered to a UK Post Office, it will be delivered to a specified Post Office in Belfast or Londonderry/Derry. This could be many miles away from your campus.  You must collect your BRP from the Post Office within 10 days of your arrival in the UK.

    If you apply for your Tier 4 visa inside the UK, your BRP will be delivered directly to the address that you specify on your Tier 4 visa application form.

  • Errors on your visa vignette

    Check your visa vignette carefully when you receive it.  If there are any errors on your vignette that would prevent you from entering the UK as planned, you must get the errors amended before you travel to the UK. This includes errors with your name, nationality or ‘valid from’ date.

    Please contact the Compliance team for advice if you notice mistakes on your visa vignette.

    Passport, visa and BRP problems

  • If your visa vignette is lost or stolen outside the UK

    If your visa vignette is lost or stolen outside the UK, you will need to apply for a “vignette transfer” as soon as you have received your new passport.

    You can apply to have your visa vignette transferred to a new passport online.  This will cost £154.

    When you complete your online application, please select the following route:

    Reason for visit: Other

    Visa type: Others

    Visa sub type: Vignette transfer

    You do not need to provide a CAS or evidence of funds or qualifications etc. (unless this is requested by UKVI). However, you must submit a letter from Ulster University confirming you have been accepted to study with us, in addition to a photocopy of your evidence of leave and your police report.

  • Tier 4 visa - your rights and responsibilities

    As a Tier 4 student, it is your responsibility to ensure that you comply with the conditions of your visa at all times. Failing to comply with the conditions of your Tier 4 visa is an offence and could result in your visa being cancelled.

    As a Tier 4 student, you may:

    • Study a full-time course at Ulster University
    • Study a part-time at Master’s level (RQF level 7) or above
    • Take other studies at Ulster University or another institution provided that you other studies do not interfere with your main course of study.
    • Work

    As a Tier 4 student, you may not:

    • Work as a self-employed person (link to working in the UK)
    • Work as an entertainer, sportsperson or coach (link to working in the UK)
    • Work more hours than you are entitled to during term-time (link to working in the UK)
    • Study a part-time course at undergraduate level (RQF level 6) or below
    • Study your main course at another institution
    • Stay in the UK after your visa has expired, unless you have made a visa application to extend your stay in the UK.

    As a Tier 4 student, you must:

    • Complete your enrolment at Ulster University
    • Provide us with copies of your passport, visa sticker (vignette), Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or proof of your visa application, if you have applied to extend your visa in the UK
    • Keep us up-to-date with any changes to your passport or visa
    • Register with the Police (if you are required to do so)
    • Attend all your classes (lectures, seminars, tutorials, practicals) and exams, or meetings with your supervisor (for research students)
    • Keep your contact details (address, email and phone number) up-to-date. You can do this through Banner Self Service and by email to compliance@ulster.ac.uk
    • Let us know if, for any reason, you are absent from class or an exam. Your absence must be authorised by your Course Director and/or the Compliance Team
    • Let us know immediately if you wish to take a break in your studies (Leave Of Absence) or if you wish to make any changes to your studies
    • Apply for an new Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate each time you make changes to your studies (if applicable)
    • Leave the UK or apply to extend your stay in the UK before your visa expires
  • Tier 4 visa - Ulster University's responsibilities

    As a Tier 4 sponsor, it is Ulster University’s responsibility to ensure that we comply with the conditions of our Tier 4 sponsor licence.  Failing to comply with the conditions of our Tier 4 sponsor license is an offence and could result in our sponsor license being withdrawn.

    As a Tier 4 sponsor, Ulster University must:

    • Maintain an up-to-date file of your contact and visa details
    • Monitor your academic engagement.  To do this, we will monitor your attendance in class, exams and/or meetings with your supervisor (for research students), and your academic progress
    • Report changes to your circumstances within 10 working days to UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI).  This includes:
      • If you fail to enrol and begin your studies
      • If you change your course
      • If you change your study location
      • If you begin a work placement as part of your course
      • If you withdraw from your course
      • If you complete your course earlier than the original expected end date
      • If you take a break from your studies (e.g. Leave of absence)
      • If you fail to engage with your studies and we withdraw your Tier 4 sponsorship
      • If you change your immigration status (e.g. you get a different visa)
      • If you apply for a new visa and it is refused, and you lose the right to study in the UK
    • Report to UKVI if you break any immigration rules
  • How long may I stay in the UK on a Tier 4 visa?

    There are limits on how long you are permitted to study in the UK on a Tier 4 visa at different levels.

    Courses below degree level

    You are permitted to study courses below degree level in the UK with a Tier 4 visa for up to two years.

    Courses at degree level and above 

    You are permitted to study courses at degree level and above with a Tier 4 visa for up to 5 years UNLESS:

    • You are studying an exempted subject (e.g. architecture)
    • You are studying a master’s degree after completing an undergraduate course which was 4 or 5 years in length.  In this case you must complete all your studies within 6 years
    • You are studying a research programme, such as a PhD
    • If it is your first research programme, there will be no time limit on your studies
    • If you have already completed a research degree with a Tier 4 visa, you must complete all of your studies (including previous courses) within 8 years (unless your previous programme was a research masters degree of less than 13 months)

    How will the time limit be calculated?

    The time limit is linked to the duration of your Tier 4 visa rather than the duration of your course/s.  The time will normally be calculated from the start date of your first Tier 4 visa, until four months after you expect to complete your new course (i.e. the expiry date of a new Tier 4 visa). Any time during which you did not hold a valid Tier 4 visa will be discounted.

    You must be able to complete your new course within the limits unless:

    • The time limits will prevent you from studying a fifth academic year of study.  In this case you must be able to complete your new course within 5 years and 11 months, OR
    • You have completed a 4 or 5-year undergraduate course, and wish to study a master’s degree, and the time limits would prevent you from studying a sixth academic year.  In this case you must be able to complete your studies within 6 years and 11 months

    If accepting you on to another course at Ulster would result in you exceeding the time limits, we will be unable to accept you.

Students applying from China or India

The following videos show students from China and India as they prepare to make their visa applications for study in the UK and then as they prepare to travel here.

UK visa application from China UK visa application from China

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UK visa application from China

UK visa application from India  UK visa application from India

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UK visa application from India