Visas and immigration
If you have accepted an unconditional offer to study a course at the University of Brighton and need to apply for a Tier 4 student entry clearance (visa) from outside the UK, please read the below guidance.
If you are a non-EEA national and you do not already have a UK visa which allows you to study you will usually have to apply for and obtain a Tier 4 Student entry clearance visa in order to come to the UK to study a course of over six months duration or a pre-sessional course.
Please use our step-by-step guidance below to help you make a Tier 4 Student visa application from outside the UK (also known as applying for entry clearance).
If you are already in the UK and you need to apply to extend your current visa please use our guidance on making a Tier 4 Student application in the UK.
If you want to make a successful application it is important that you read and understand the documents and web pages below. In our experience, the most common reasons why Tier 4 Student applications are refused are because the applicants do not read or understand the guidance and therefore do not provide the correct documents with their applications, or do not have sufficient funds for the required amount of time.
- UK Border Agency (UKBA): Guidance for students
- UKBA: Guide to supporting documents
- UKBA: How to apply for a student visa from outside the UK
- UKCISA: Making a student immigration application in your home country
- UKCISA: Flowchart for Tier 4 applications made from your country of residence
If you are coming to the university to study a degree course please note that we cannot issue you with a CAS until you have paid your tuition fee deposit. If you are starting a course with us in September 2014 you must provide us with your tuition fee deposit of £1,000 by no later than 31 August 2014.
The deposit must be paid before the university can process a request for a CAS number. However, whilst the deadline to pay the deposit for this year is 31 August 2014, we would advise that you pay this as soon as possible so that you are able to make your application in plenty of time (see 6 below).
You will need to obtain an ATAS certificate every time you make a Tier 4 Student application if you are studying or going to study one of the following courses:
- A PhD or MPhil in: Pharmacy; Biomedical Sciences; Healthcare Professions; Physiotherapy; Occupational Therapy; Engineering; Environment; Geography; Computing; Mathematical and Information Sciences; or Information Technology; or
- A Masters in: Aeronautical Engineering; Automotive Engineering; Industrial and Product Design; or Product Innovation and Development.
For details about the scheme and how to apply for your ATAS certificate visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) information about ATAS.
Your CAS statement will tell you if you need to apply for an ATAS certificate but if you don’t have your CAS yet and you’re not sure whether you will need one please send an email to CASenquiries@brighton.ac.uk.
ATAS Certificates can take up to two months to be issued so you must apply for your certificate in plenty of time.
You must not make your Tier 4 application before the university has issued your CAS. If you make the application without a CAS, the UKBA will refuse your application.
A CAS is a unique reference number which is 14 digits long and confirms that you have accepted an unconditional offer in order to study a course at the university.
Once you have accepted an unconditional offer to study on a course at the University of Brighton, the Admissions department will send you an offer letter and a visa quetsionnaire. The university will issue you with a CAS number by email provided that you have completed and returned your ‘Visa Questionnaire’, which you will have received with your offer letter, meet the UK Border Agency’s requirements on academic progression and time limits on study in the UK, and have paid your tuition fee deposit (where relevant). You do not have to request your CAS but if you have a question about it please send an email with your student number to CASenquiries@brighton.ac.uk.
If you are resident in one of the following countries, and you are coming to the UK for more than six months, you will need to obtain a certificate confirming you are free from tuberculosis before you can apply for your visa, the certificate will also need to be supplied with your visa application:
Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ghana, India, Kenya, Laos, Lesotho, Malaysia, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe
For further information on where you can take your TB test and the process for this please see Appendix T – Tuberculosis screening.
You can also find further specific information for the process from your country here UKBA - Visa Application Centres Overseas.
You must apply for the Tier 4 Student visa in plenty of time – ideally at least six weeks before the start date of the course. This is because although the UKBA states that it will process 90 per cent of Tier 4 Student entry clearance applications within 15 working days, it often takes much longer than this for the whole application process.
If you make your application later than six weeks before the latest start date of the course you may not be able to obtain a decision on your application in time to arrive in the UK to start the course.
Please note, however, that you must not apply more than 3 months before the start of your course, before you are issued with a CAS, or before you meet the other requirements of the application.
If you have not previously studied in the UK with a Tier 4 Student or Student visa, this section does not apply to you please go straight to the next section.
The maximum length of time you can stay in the UK with a Tier 4 Student visa in order to study at below degree level is 3 years. If you make a Tier 4 Student application to study a course at below degree level (this includes pre-sessional courses, and foundation degrees) which will result in you spending more than 3 years in the UK with a Tier 4 visa, your application will be refused.
The maximum length of time you can stay in the UK with a Tier 4 Student or Student visa in order to study at degree level is 5 years. If you make a Tier 4 application to study a degree level course, which will result in you spending more than 5 years in the UK with Tier 4 Student or Student visas, the UKBA will refuse your application.
However, the five year limit does not apply if one of the following three exceptions applies to you:
- You are making a Tier 4 Student application in order to start or complete a PhD.
- You are making a Tier 4 Student application in order to start or complete a degree in Architecture; Medicine; or the CPE PGDip Law.
- You are making a Tier 4 Student application in order to start or complete a Master’s degree and you have successfully completed a degree level course which was four or five academic years long*. If this is the case the time limit for you is six years and not five.
* You should note that your undergraduate degree must originally have been four or five years long to qualify for this exemption. The exemption does not apply if you took four or five years to complete a three year degree course because you had to repeat a year or take re-sits.
The points requirements
The guidance has already looked at the ATAS, and five (and three) year limit requirements of making a Tier 4 Student application. The immigration rules also state that in order for a student to make a successful application to obtain a Tier 4 Student visa she or he must ‘score’ 40 points. This is known as the Points Requirements:
- You will score 30 points if you provide with your application a valid ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ (CAS) and the original copies of your certificates for all of your educational qualifications which are listed on the CAS. If you do not provide the certificates of the qualifications which are listed on your CAS, the UKBA will not award you 30 points and therefore refuse your application.
- You will score 10 points if you meet the ‘maintenance requirement’. The ‘maintenance requirement’ is the amount of money that the Immigration Rules state you must have to be able to pay for your studies and living costs in the UK. The amount of money you must have to score 10 points depends on your situation (see the next Section ‘Calculate how much money you will need to have’).
General grounds for refusal
The UKBA can also refuse your application on ‘general grounds’, regardless of whether you score 40 points for your CAS and maintenance. General grounds for refusal include if you have previously breached the conditions of your visa in the UK (for example you have worked more than 20 hours per week during term time, or claimed public funds), or have previously overstayed your visa, used deception, submitted false documents or made false representations to the UKBA in a previous application.
If you receive official financial sponsorship from eg your government go to the next section.
If you or your family pay for your studies (you are ‘self-funding’) in order to score 10 points for ‘maintenance’, you will need to show the UKBA that you will have held for a consecutive 28 day period an amount equal to:
Your outstanding tuition fees (for the first year of the course)
£7,200 for your living costs *
*If you are making the Tier 4 Student application for a course that is less than nine months long (check the CAS) you will only need to have an amount equal to £800 multiplied by the number of months remaining. Eg if your course is six months long you will need to show £4,800 (£800 x six months) for living costs.
Please note: You will only need to have £1,600 for living costs (known as an 'established presence') if:
- you have a current Student or Tier 4 visa, and
- if you are making the Tier 4 application in order to start a new course, your previous course was 6 months or more and you completed it during the validity of your current visa, or if you are making the Tier 4 application in order to complete your current course, you have already been on the course for six months or more.
In order to score 10 points for maintenance you will also have to show that you:
- have had the required amount of money for at least 28 days before the application, and
- have had the required amount of money on every day of the 28 day period ie you cannot have less than the required amount of money even for just one day during the 28 days, and
- will have the required amount on the date of the application, and
- have the amount in bank accounts where the money is cash funds or savings which are available ie not in investments or bonds
- Have the funds in the form of a loan
If you have already paid money to the university for your tuition fees or halls of residence:
This amount will be deducted from the amount you need to show for your maintenance.
If the amount you have paid does not appear on your CAS please email CASenquiries@brighton.ac.uk in order for your fees paid to be updated on your CAS. Alternatively you will need an official receipt from the university as evidence of fees paid.
Important information regarding accommodation fees:
- Money paid to a private landlord/accommodation provider cannot be taken off the amount you need to show for living costs.
- For university accommodation, the maximum amount that can be taken off the money you need to show for living costs is £1000, even if you have paid more than this in accommodation fees.
You must provide the originals (not copies or scans) of all of the following:
1) Proof that you have enough funds in the form of either:
- Your bank statements
In order to be accepted by the UKBA they must be:
- For a period of at least 28 days
- Less than one month old when you make the application
- In your name or joint names or in the name of your parent(s). Please see below.
- Dated, show the bank’s name and logo; your name; and the account number
- From either one account or from a number of accounts
- From an account held anywhere in the world
- In English or if not accompanied by official translations. Please see below.
- In Pounds Sterling (GBP) but if not you must use the OANDA website to convert them
If you do not normally receive bank statements in the post you should call your bank and ask them to send you a statement. If you do wish to rely on online statements or statements printed in the bank, which we do not recommend, you need to make sure that the bank stamps every page of the statement.
- Or your parent's bank statements
It is much easier if you use your own statements and if necessary ask your parent to transfer the required funds to you at least 28 days before you have to make your application. If you use your parent(s)’ bank statements they must also meet the requirements above and you must also provide:
- Your original birth certificate (and translation if not in English), and
- An original signed letter from your parent(s) giving you permission to use his or her or their funds
- Or if you have a loan from a financial institution or your government
A letter from the financial institution confirming the loan which shows
- your name (not your parent’s name)
- the date of the letter; and
- the financial institution’s name and logo;
- the money (or funds) available as a loan;
The financial institution must be regulated by either the Financial Services Authority or, in the case of overseas accounts, the official regulatory body for the country the institution is in and where the money is held. The funds must be available before you travel to the UK unless the loan is a academic/student loan from your government.
- Or if you receive Official Financial Sponsorship
If your government, the UK government, the British Council, an international organisation eg the UN or an international company pays for all of your tuition fees and living costs you must provide:
- An original letter from your sponsor on official letterhead confirming the sponsorship. The letter must be stamped, dated and confirm your name and the sponsor’s contact details.
If your sponsorship does not cover all of your tuition fees and living costs of at least £800 per month, you will also need to provide bank statements showing the remaining amount.
2) Official University Receipts
If your CAS does not show payments you have made for tuition fees and accommodation (and you have not received an email from the Registry Department to say that your CAS statement has been updated with this information) you must obtain official receipts.
3. The Originals of the Certificates of your Qualifications listed on your CAS (if any)
4. The English Language Certificate of the English qualification listed on your CAS (If any)
5. Your current and all your previous passports.
6. Your UK Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (only if you have one)
7. An ATAS clearance certificate (if you are required to have one)
8. One passport sized coloured photograph
If you provide a document which is not in English you must also provide a fully certified translation of the document which has been translated by a professional translator. For more information including the information the certified copy must include see the sections on translations in the UKBA’s Guidance for students'.
The UKBA has defined the holders of the following passports as ‘low-risk’ in terms of Tier 4 applications:
Argentina; Australia; British Overseas National (BNO); Botswana; Brunei; Canada; Chile; Croatia; Japan; Hong Kong; Malaysia; New Zealand; Singapore; South Korea; Taiwan; Trinidad and Tobago; United States of America.
This means that if you are a national of one of those countries and you are making a Tier 4 Student application in that country, you do not have to provide your educational and financial documents with your application (just your passport; BRP and photos). However, you must still collect all of the documents as the UKBA can request them at any time.
Not all students can bring their dependants with them to the UK. You should read the information at the following links to find out whether your dependants can come, and the requirements they will need to meet to get their visa.
If you are unsure whether you can bring your dependants with you or would like further advice, please contact us on our enquiry form.
Please note in relation to whether you can bring your dependants:
- The University of Brighton meets the UK Border Agency’s definition of a ‘Higher Education Institution’
- A course at Level 7 of the NQF is equivalent to Masters degrees and Post Graduate Diplomas. Bachelor degrees are at Level 6 of the NQF.
If your spouse/partner and/or children are coming to the UK with you, they will have to apply for PBS Dependant visas. They will each have to complete a VAF10 form (or apply online) and pay the application fee. The maintenance requirement will be much higher so you should contact the International Student Advisers if your dependants are going to apply with you so you get the correct advice.
The process for applying for UK entry clearance differs depending on the country from which you are applying. In some countries you can only apply online, in others you can only apply by filling in a paper form. You should find out the process for applying from your country by following this link: UKBA - Visa Application Centres Overseas.
For all countries, even if you complete your VAF 9 application form online, you must print out and complete the VAF 9 Appendix 8 form on paper and submit this in with your passport and other supporting documents.
You must complete all of the relevant sections of the form fully and sign and date it; if you do not do this the UKBA will refuse your application. If somebody helps you to complete the form, you must make sure you are aware of the contents of the form before you submit it online/to the embassy. You must ensure you answer the questions truthfully, as otherwise you can risk being banned from being granted a visa to the UK for up to 10 years. You should use the details on your CAS Statement to answer some of the questions.
Before you submit your application, you should photocopy the main page of your passport, any visas/permits in your passport, your certificates, your bank statements/sponsorship letter and a copy of your application form and Appendix 8, and keep the copies in a safe place.
Visa application fees are usually payable in local currency. The fees change periodically and usually at least once or twice a year. You will need to check the current fee and the process for paying by finding your country here: Visa Application Centres Overseas
The application process is different from country to country. You should submit your application to the embassy/application centre according to the process for your country.
For all countries, you will need to give your biometric information (your fingerprints and digital photograph) at the embassy/high commission or visa application centre.
Important: processing times
The processing times differ according to where (and when) you make your application. Processing times are slower in June to August when most students make their applications to start in September/October. Processing times will also be slower over UK holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter.
For information on the processing times for your country/embassy please follow this link: UKBA - Visa Application Centres Overseas
If you have made your application and you are still waiting for a decision after the average processing times for your country, or if you think you may not obtain a visa in time to start your course, due to the fact that you do not yet have your visa, you should you should ask for advice from the International Student Advisers
If your application is successful you will be issued an entry clearance (visa) vignette (sticker) in your passport. If your application is refused you will be given a letter explaining why. You should check the visa and if there are any mistakes, e.g. with your name or the ‘end date’ please tell us so we can ask the UKBA to amend them.
If your application is refused you must email the International Student Advisers and attach a scanned copy of your refusal letter with your name and student number. You should also send a copy of your refusal letter to CASenquiries@brighton.ac.uk.
Please note that you cannot use a CAS more than once. If your application is refused, and you wish to apply again, you will need a new CAS. The University is not able to issue you with a new CAS until you have sent a copy of refusal letter and sought advice on your situation.
If having read this guidance, you have a question about making a Tier 4 Student entry clearance application then please get in touch with us through our enquiry form.
This guidance is for the sole use of University of Brighton applicants. It is a guide only and must be used in conjunction with the UKBA’s Tier 4 Policy Guidance and all other webpages it makes reference to. The information in this guidance is given in good faith and has been carefully checked. However, the University of Brighton accepts no legal responsibility for its accuracy.