Changes to the Tier 4 visa rules
Please be aware there has been a significant change in the immigration rules that means most students will no longer be able to extend their Tier 4 visa for their current course from inside the UK. PhD students are exempt from this change. IF you have just been told that you will need to repeat a year of your course please contact us urgently for advice.
Visa application fees increased from 18th March 2016. Postal applications now cost £448 and Premium Service applications made by appointment in person will cost £948.
The UKVI has made a number of changes to the Immigration Rules over the last few months. Many of the changes will not affect Aston University students but there are some things that you need to be aware of. Students will now need to show more money for living costs for themselves and their dependants and will no longer be able to show a lower amount of funds for living costs if they have an established presence in the UK. This means that most students will now need to show that they have at least £9,135 for their living costs as part of their Tier 4 visa application. There have also been changes made to the length of time that students can spend studying in the UK and how this is calculated.
UKVI has also launched a new online application system for Tier 4 students.
There are limits on how long students can spend studying in the UK using Tier 4 General student visas. If you have already spent time studying in the UK and you will need to to extend your visa to begin a new course or because you have had to repeat studies for your existing course then you will need to make sure that the total time you will be spending studying at degree level will not exceed the UKVI limits. The length of time you have spent studying is calculated based on the length of visas that you have been granted for all of the courses of study at degree level plus the length of the visa that you be granted for your new course.
For most students studying for Bachelor's and Master's degrees the limit is 5 years. If the ordinary length of your undergraduate degree was 4 years or more (for example the 4 year MPharm or a 4 year Bachelor's degree with a placement year) then your limit may be 6 years. If you will be studying for a course below degree level (for example a Year Zero or Foundation course) then the limit is most likely to be 2 years.
You need 40 points: 30 points are awarded for having a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and 10 Points are awarded for having the correct level of funds available.
You can check that you have sufficient points to be granted entry to the UK before you make your application by checking using the UKVI self assessment tool. You will need to scroll to the bottom of the page and select "start self assessment".
A CAS is a Confirmation of Acceptance for Study: a unique code which links you to Aston University on the UK Home Office database. Your CAS confirms that Aston University is your educational "sponsor".
If you are already enrolled as a student at Aston University, then the immigration advisers in the Advice Zone will be able to arrange a CAS for you. You will need to complete the online pre-CAS questionnaire about your previous studies in the UK and will also need to show that you have enough money available to meet the requirements for a Tier 4 General visa.
If you need a CAS number for a new course at Aston University it will be provided by the admissions staff in your Academic School at Aston University.
CAS numbers must be no more than six months old on the date you apply for your visa.
You will need to show that you have enough money available to cover your living costs and tuition fees for your course. You will need to show that this money has been available to you throughout a continuous 28 day period that ends no more than one month before you apply for your visa. The money must be held in an account in your name and this includes joint accounts. You can also use money held in your parents' bank accounts but you will need to send your original birth certificate (which must show your parents' names) and an original signed and dated letter from your parent(s) confirming they are your parent(s) and they consent to their money being used to fund your UK studies. Please note: this can be very difficult and we strongly advise that you arrange for your money to be held in an account in your name.
If you already have a Tier 4 General visa and are applying for a visa extension then you will probably need to show that you have at least £9,135 available to you for living costs. If your course will last less than 9 months or you have less than 9 months left of you course then you should only need to show that you have at least £1,015 for each month (including part months) that you will be studying.
►We recommend that you keep your maintenance money in your account whilst you are waiting for your visa application to be considered.
Tuition fees: you must be able to prove you have either paid your tuition fees in full or that the remaining fees owed to the University are in your bank account.
University accommodation fees: If you pay money to Aston University for accommodation fees then we can include this information on your CAS. The UKVI will be able to take up to £1265 of your accommodation fee payments into account which will reduce the amount of money you need to show in your bank account for living costs.
Example bank statement: We now have an example copy of what your bank statements should include. Please note this is an example and must not be used with any visa application.
You can prove you have these funds available by providing:
The UKVI has strict guidelines about the format for your bank statements. If the bank statement is printed in a Branch (ad hoc) then it needs to be printed on letter headed paper. Electronic bank statements printed from an internet banking account can be accepted but they will need to be stamped by the bank on every single page.
In all cases statements must include the following information:
Any financial documents which do not fulfil these requirements may not be accepted by the UKVI and could result in your visa application being confused.
You must provide professional translations of documents which are not written in English.
If your bank account is not in the UK, you must include a conversion of the closing balance to Sterling quoting the OANDA website and the exchange rate that applies on the day you submit your online application. You will also need to provide an official translation of your bank statement.
UKVI will only accept evidence from some banks in India, Cameroon, Ghana, Pakistan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran. UKVI has published lists of institutions in those countries that do satisfactorily verify financial statements. Please contact us if your money is in a bank account in one of these countries and we will check the UKVI list for you.
Students from some nationalities considered to be "low risk" may not need to send every document with their application.Evidence is always required but not always requested, so please contact us before you send your application if you think this applies to you.
There are a number of documents you need to include in your Tier 4 application.
UKVI will only accept original documents and you cannot send copies. You will also need to provide professional translations of documents which are not written in English.
You will need to complete a "Tier 4 (General) student online application." Our immigration advisers can help you with this application and can send the application through our Check and Send service
You will need to send the following documents with your visa application:
Your current and previous passports
A printed and signed copy of the declaration page of your application
Your police registration certificate, if you have one
Two brand new colour identical passport photos
Documents to prove you have the required funds (see section above)
Your Biometric Residence Permit for the UK, if you have one
Any qualifications that have been listed in your CAS
It does not matter whether or not you have arranged your own health insurance whilst you are in the, you will still need to pay the IHS as part of your visa application. If you are an Australian or New Zealand national then you may not need to pay the IHS as the UK has different health care arrangements in place with these countries.
This is explained in our application guide; Ten steps to extending your Tier 4 General visa
If you want to send your application by post, you will need to complete a "Tier 4 (General) on-line application". You will need to create an account for the UKVI online application system and complete the Tier 4 General on-line application. You can find a completed example which will help you to complete the application here. It is very important that you check that all of the information in your online application form is correct. It may not be possible to make changes after the application has been submitted!
You will need to arrange an appointment to see an immigration adviser at The Hub Advice Zone so that we can check your application and arrange a CAS for you. You will need to complete the online Pre-CAS questionnaire. You will also need to bring your login details and the following documents with you to your appointment with your immigration adviser:
Your current passport and any other passports that you have used to travel to the UK
Your Biometric Residence Permit, if you have one (this is your visa ID card).
Your Police Registration Certificate (only if you are required to register with the police).
Two recent identical colour passport sized photos with your name written on the back.
Your bank statements or other financial evidence
Any qualifications that you used as the basis for your offer to study at Aston (only if you are applying for a visa for a new course or have not yet completed 6 months of your current course)
Your completed Pre-CAS questionnaire
If you will be applying by post the we will normally send your application through our Check and Send service. This is a special scheme that is run between UKVI and Universities across the UK. The responsibility for completing the form and supplying the correct documents is still yours, but an International Student Adviser will check your application and send it by recorded delivery to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). We will then act as your contact for the application. The person making the decision at the UKVI may contact us if they have any questions about your application before they make their decision.
After your International Student Adviser has checked your online application, documents and Pre-CAS questionnaire they will arrange CAS for you and ask to you make another appointment to submit your online application and hand in your documents. We will send your documents to UKVI by recorded delivery with a printed and signed copy of your application cover sheet.
Your documents, passport/s and new visa will be returned to The Hub Advice Zone, and we will email you when they have arrived. The letter from UKVI inviting you to attend a post office to give your biometric details may still come to your current address, as given on your application form but we will contact you by email if the letter is sent to The Hub Advice Zone.
There were changes made to the Immigration Rules some time ago to allow UK Visas and Immigration to introduce credibility interviews as part of the Tier 4 application process. Not all students will be asked to attend these interviews and applicants are randomly selected. If you are asked to attend a credibility interview, please do not as it does not mean that there is a problem with your application. During the interview you could be asked questions about your application, your studies and your life in the UK. We will contact you by email if we receive an interview request letter and will tell you what you need to do next.
We make special arrangements each summer for Pre Sessional students who need a new visa for their main degree programme at Aston. Here is a copy of the presentation I gave on the visa workshop on Thursday 28th July about how we will be arranging your visa applications. You do not need to book an appointment to see an adviser at The Hub. You do not need to complete a new Pre-CAS questionnaire or ask your school to arrange a new CAS number for you. Soon you will also be able to enrol onto a module on Blackboard which will include other information about your visa application. We will email you all when this has been set up for you.
Not all Tier 4 students can bring their dependants to the UK with them. You will normally only be able to have dependants with you in the UK if you are studying at Aston for a postgraduate course that lasts more than 12 months or you are a government sponsored students studying for a course that lasts at least 6 months. There are some other special circumstances in which dependants that currently have or have recently had permission to be in the UK as a Tier 4 student’s dependant may also qualify but this is rather complicated and you should contact us for further advice.
If you dependants are in the UK with you and will be applying to extend their visas at the same time as you, you will be able to include them in your Tier 4 (General) online application. It currently costs £448 per dependant to apply online and send documents by post and £948 for each dependant when you apply in person at a Public Enquiry Office.
You will need to show that there is enough money available to cover your dependants living costs in addition to your living costs and the tuition fees for your course. You will need to show that this money has been available throughout a 28 day period that ends no more than one month before you apply for your visa. The money must be held in an account in your name and/or the dependant’s name and this includes joint accounts. You cannot use money held in an account that is solely in your dependant’s name as evidence that you have enough money to meet your own maintenance requirements for your Tier 4 application.
If you already have a Tier 4 General visa and are applying for a visa extension then you will need to show that there is at least £6,120 available for each dependant’s living costs. If your course will last less than 9 months or you have less than 9 months left of you course then you should only need to show that you have at least £680 available for each dependant for each month (including part months) that you will be studying.
If your partner and child are in the UK as your dependants, you are applying to extend your visas together and you have more than 9 months left of your course you would need to show a total of £21,375 for you and your dependants’ living costs (£9,135 for you and £6,120 for each dependant). You will also need to show that you have enough money to pay your tuition fees.
If you are a new student who already has a Tier 4 student visa and wants to extend your visa from inside the UK, we can still help you with your visa application. Please remember that you will not be able to make an application to extend your Tier 4 visa from inside the UK if there is a gap of more than 28 days between the end of your current Tier 4 visa and the start of your new course. You may not be able to extend your visa from inside the UK if you have a Tier 4 General student visa and you did not complete your previous course. If you have a current Tier 4 General student visa then you will also only be able to apply for a visa extension in the UK if your current visa was sponsored by a UK publicly funded body of University or you were on an exchange programme from an overseas university or you were sponsored by an embedded college or an independent school.
You will need to make sure that you make your application to extend your Tier 4 General student visa as soon as possible. If your current Tier 4 student visa has been sponsored by your previous university, college or school the we not be able to enrol you as an Aston student unless we can show that you have already made a new visa application using your Aston CAS. We highly recommend that you use our Check and Send service so that we can verify that your application has been sent and so that we can also provide certified copies of your documents for enrolment.
You can use the completed example as a guide to help you to complete your online application but your answers to some of the questions may need to be a little bit different. Don't worry if you are not sure about any of the answers, just answer as best as you can and make sure you save your application (but don't submit it!) Once you have your CAS number and have filled out your online application, an adviser can check the online application for you and also check your supporting documents. You can arrange an appointment with one of our visa advisers by calling the Advice Zone on 0121 204 4567 or 0121 204 4007.