Tier 4 Immigration
1. How do I apply for a Tier 4 Visa?
A Tier 4 visa is for overseas students wishing to study in the UK. You can apply online at www.gov.uk for a Tier 4 visa unless you are applying from North Korea, which must be done via a downloaded form. You will need to provide fingerprints and a photo to the visa application centre, which are required for a biometric residence permit. This can be collected within 10 days of the date you state you are arriving in the UK.
Applications for a Tier 4 visa will be accepted up to three months before the start of your course, and you can expect a reply within three weeks of your application. The cost of this application from outside the UK is £328, and the cost is the same for any dependents that you are also applying for. There is a healthcare surcharge as part of the application, the cost of which varies depending on your circumstances.
With a Tier 4 visa you can study and work in the UK (the work you are allowed to do depends on what course or level of sponsor you have) but you cannot have access to public funds or work in professional sport. You also cannot study at an academy or local authority-funded school.
Upon a successful application, you can arrive in the UK up to one week before the start of your course, if it lasts for only six months or less. You can arrive up to one month before, if the course lasts for six months or longer.
2. How do I apply for a Tier 4 Extension?
You can extend your visa to continue your studies, or start a new course, as long as you continue to meet the original eligibility rules. You must also be resident in the UK when you apply, and you must include all your dependents on your application, including those on your current visa who have reached the age of 18 during your original stay.
Extension applications can be done online and you must do this within six months of being accepted on your new or extended course, and before your current visa expires. However, this also must not be more than three months before the start of the course. You can stay in the UK while you await your decision.
The application process usually takes eight weeks as standard, but there are ways that this can be speeded up. However, this affects the cost of the application process considerably. A standard extension application takes eight weeks and costs £448. A ‘Priority’ service costs £823 and takes 10 days, and a ‘Premium’ service costs £948 and you get a decision on the same day.
3. What are the Tier 4 Immigration Rules?
There are strict eligibility rules in order for you to be able to apply for a Tier 4 visa.
- You must be studying in the UK and be aged 16 or over.
- You must have been offered a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor in place.
- This course must be full-time and leading to a qualification of at least level 6 on the Ofqual register.
- The course can be an overseas course of degree level study that is equal to a UK higher education course and is run by an overseas higher education institution.
- The course can be a recognised foundation programme for a post-graduate doctor or dentist.
- You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English.
- You must be able to support yourself financially and be able to pay for your course.
- You must be applying from a country outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland.
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