Student FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions from student applicants overseas.

What is a CAS?

CAS stands for Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. A CAS is an electronic reference number which is issued to you by the education provider that you have chosen to study at. You will need this when you submit your visa application. It is not a physical document; it is an electronic reference number only. The Visa Officer can check the existence, validity and conditions of your CAS through the ‘CAS checker’, a tool that is available to Visa Officers only.

What is the validity of a CAS?

Your CAS will be valid for use in a Tier 4 application for 6 months from the date that it was issued by your education provider. The latter will normally include its expiry date in the CAS statement that they will e-mail to you.

I don’t have a place of study yet. Can I still come to the UK as a student?

Yes, this is possible. But you cannot apply for a Tier 4 student visa. If you haven’t been accepted on a course yet but are still looking for a suitable course, you could apply for a visa as a “prospective student”. You can read about the requirements that you will have to meet on the UKBA website here. The prospective student visa is for prospective students who intend to study in the UK under PBS Tier 4 but have not completed all the arrangements for their course of study. You should have a clear idea of the type and purpose of course that you want to study, and you should already have been in touch with educational institutions in the UK. If you only have a vague intention to study for qualifications or to enter an unspecified university or other institution, you cannot come as a prospective student. You must be able to show that you will start your course within 6 months of arrival in the UK. In some cases, you may be able to provide this evidence in a letter of acceptance or prospectus giving details of the course. If you already have an unconditional offer of a place on a course, which you intend to accept, you should not come here as a prospective student – instead, you should apply to enter the UK under Tier 4. You must show that you intend to: switch into Tier 4 of the points-based system to begin your course within 6 months of arriving in the UK, and then leave the UK at the end of your course; and intend to leave the UK when your permission to stay as a prospective student expires, if you have not been able to switch into Tier 4. You must also be able to show that you have enough money to meet the costs of your intended course and accommodation, and to support yourself, without working or help from public funds. There is no minimum age requirement as a prospective student. Your husband, wife or civil partner, and any of your children under 18, can come to the UK with you while you arrange your studies. They are known as your ‘dependants’. You must be able to show that you can adequately accommodate and support them without working or needing any help from public funds. ‘Prospective students’ can stay in the UK for up to six months to make arrangements for their studies. Once you have enrolled at a college or university, you will need to extend your stay in the UK as a ‘student’ under the PBS Tier 4 category.

I have already paid money for my accommodation. Can I deduct this from the money that I need to show for my Tier 4 application?

Yes, you can. But only up to a maximum of £1,000, and only if you have paid your accommodation fees directly to your Tier 4 Sponsor. You need to provide a receipt as evidence of how much you have paid, or your Tier 4 Sponsor may choose to include this information in your CAS. Please note that if you have paid any accommodation fees directly to a landlord or to a private company, you are not able to deduct this from your maintenance funds. In this case you will need to show that you have additional money in your bank account to cover the full maintenance requirements as part of your Tier 4 application.

Can I work on a Tier 4 student visa?

Please read our separate post here.

Can a relative or friend sponsor my studies in the UK?

You must show evidence that you have the required money in one of the following ways:

  • funds held in your own name;
  • funds held in a parent or legal guardian’s name;
  • funds provided as a loan from a financial institution;
  • funds provided by an “official financial sponsor” – an official financial sponsor is an organisation that wholly supports you to study in the UK by giving you money to cover your course fees and your living costs. The UK government, your home government, the British Council or any international organisation, international company, university or UK independent school can be an official financial sponsor. It cannot be an individual person. Relatives, other than your parent(s) or legal guardian(s), cannot therefore sponsor your Tier 4 student application.

For the purposes of your student application, you cannot claim points for money held in any other person’s name, even if you have their permission to do so. If someone who is not your parent or guardian is financially sponsoring you, they will need to transfer the funds to your account (or to your parent or legal guardian’s account), allowing time for you (or your parent or legal guardian) to hold the funds for at least 28 days.

Can I travel around Europe on my UK visa?

No. Your UK visa is valid for the UK. Therefore, if you require a visa for any country, you will still need to obtain one. Your UK visa is not valid for entry elsewhere.

What is the validity of my Tier 4 student visa?

The validity of your visa depends on the type and length of your course. Please see the table below. It is important that you check the validity of your visa before travelling to the UK. At the end of the time specified, you must leave the UK unless you have applied to extend your stay or to switch into another immigration category.

Type of course Length of your course Length of stay allowed
Main course of Study(including SabbaticalOfficers) 12 months or more The full length of the course plus four months after the end of the course
Six months or more, but less than 12 months The full length of the course plus two months after the end of the course
Less than six months The full length of the course plus seven days after the end of the course
Pre-sessional courses 12 months or more The full length of the course plus four months after the end of the course
Six months or more, but less than 12 months The full length of the course plus two months after the end of the course
Less than six months The full length of the course plus one month after the end of the course
Postgraduate doctors anddentists on a recognisedFoundation programme The full length of the course (up to a maximum of three years) plus one month after the end of the course

Can my family members come too?

If you come as a Tier 4 student, you will normally be able to take your family members with you as your dependants. This is the case if you are a government-sponsored student and your course is over six months long, or you are coming to the UK to do a postgraduate level course at NQF level 7 or above of 12 months or more at a Higher Education Institution. A Higher Education Institution is a ‘recognised body’ (meaning that it has its own UK degree-awarding powers), or a body in receipt of public funding as a HEI.

Institutions (including further education colleges) which receive some public funding to deliver higher education courses do not fall within this definition of an HEI. You can find a list of designated bodies on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills website. You can find a list of bodies in receipt of public funding as HEIs on the following organisations’ websites: Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, Higher Education Funding Council for England, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and Scottish Funding Council.

Your family members must submit separate visa applications and carefully read the UKBA Policy Guidance.

Can I switch from the Tier 4 General student category into the Tier 2 General Worker category?

Yes, but only if you meet the following criteria. You must have current leave which has not expired in one of the eligible categories (which includes Tier 4 General category); and you must have successfully completed and passed a UK recognised bachelor or postgraduate degree, Postgraduate Certificate in Education or Professional Graduate Diploma of Education or have completed a minimum of 12 months study in the UK towards a UK PhD during your current period of leave or a period of continuous leave which includes your last grant of leave; and  you studied for the eligible award at a UK institution that is a UK recognised or listed body, or an education provider which holds a licence for sponsoring students under Tier 4 of the Points-Based System; and you are applying from inside the UK. Please note that the Tier 1 Post Study Work category is now closed. In a nutshell, you will have a very limited time only to switch! If you do not meet the criteria outlined in this paragraph, you will need to leave the UK and reapply for a Tier 2 General Worker visa from your normal country of residence.

What is the difference between “low risk” countries and other countries?

In a nutshell, the difference is a difference in documentary requirements. If you are from a “low risk” country, you will need to send less documents in support of your Tier 4 application.

Annex H of the immigration rules lists the countries and regions from which
applicants are subject to different documentary requirements under Tier 4 of the Points
Based System.

From 1 October 2012, the low risk nationalities are:

British national (overseas) or a national of one of the countries below:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Botswana (01/10/2012)
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Croatia
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Malaysia (01/10/2012)
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan (if you hold a passport issued by Taiwan that includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan)
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

Please note that to be considered ‘low risk’, you must be sponsored by a Highly Trusted Sponsor, and you must be already in the UK or applying for a Tier 4 visa in your country of nationality. Examples: 1) if you are a citizen of Argentina but your sponsor is not a Highly Trusted Sponsor, you are not considered to be ‘low risk’. 2) If you are a citizen of Malaysia, have a Highly Trusted Sponsor but submit your application in France, you are not considered to be ‘low risk’ (had you submitted it in Malaysia, you would have been considered ‘low risk’), 3) If you are a dual national with American and Ghanaian citizenship, you have a Highly Trusted Sponsor and submit your application in Ghana, you are not considered “low risk” (had you submitted the application in the USA, you would have been considered “low risk”. You can check if your education provider is a Highly Trusted Sponsor on the UKBA Sponsor Register here.

What does it mean in practical terms, if I am “low risk”?

In a nutshell, if you are a ‘low risk national’ you will not (not) normally be required to submit the following documents in support of your Tier 4 student application:

– certificates or documents used by the Tier 4 sponsor to assess academic ability, for example: qualifications, transcripts, and/or references
– English language tests or documents used by the Tier 4 sponsor to assess English language ability (for example a Secure English Language Test (SELT))
– documentary evidence of their funds, for example:
– bank statements
– building society passbooks
– loan letters, and/or
– (for Tier 4 (General) applicants) evidence of relationship to a parent or legal guardian who is providing financial sponsorship.

The remaining documents still have to be provided.

Does this mean that I don’t have to have the documents listed in the previous paragraph?

No. Even though you are not (not) normally required to send them with your application, you will still need them. The application includes a signed declaration that you have the evidence, and UKBA can ask for it. UKBA will typically still request these documents if:

– there is an entry under the police national computer or internal UK Border Agency security checks;
– the student’s nationality is removed from the list of ‘low risk’ nationalities or;
– UKBA chooses to make a random check on documents.

If UKBA requests that you send the documents, they will ask for them in writing. Failure to provide them will result in refusal. If you are aware that your are on the polic national computer, or if you have previously been refused visas, we would recommend that you include the documents listed above to avoid delays.

Does UKBA accept provisional degree certificates in India?

Several of our visitors from India have asked us whether or not UKBA India accepts provisional degree certificates in support of PBS Tier 4 student visa applications. This following an article in the Hindu Times earlier this summer in which UKBA’s regional manager stated that, in India, UKBA exceptionally accepts provisional degree certificates in support of Tier 4 Student applications (please see the article in the Hindu Post here). We have since sought further clarification from UKBA. UKBA confirms that: Quote: “In India the UK Border Agency exceptionally accepts provisional degree certificates with Tier 4 applications, but only if the education sponsor has recorded on the CAS that the course offer was made on the basis of the provisional certificate.” Unquote

Can I submit evidence of funds from any bank in support of my Tier 4 application?

Yes, except if you submit financial documents from Cameroon, India, Ghana, Pakistan, Iran or the Philippines. If you wish to submit bank documents from these countries, you need to ensure that the issuing financial institution (bank) is on the UKBA list of financial institutions whose financial statements are accepted. You can find these lists here.


Please note that immigration rules, regulations and processes are subject to continuous change. You should therefore always check the correct and up to date rules with UKBA direct. The information contained in this page is for informative purposes only. Its use is entirely at your own risk.

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