New students applying for a Tier 4 visa overseas
This page is aimed at new students who do not have a current visa to study in the UK and need to apply for their Tier 4 visa from overseas.
You may also find this page useful if you have been advised to apply for your visa from overseas and you are a student currently studying at Aston, or you have finished a course at another university in the UK.
There is a lot of information to go through on this page so if you do not understand anything, please do contact us for further advice.
* Important update 05/02/2018: The UK Home Office has announced that they plan to increase the amount charged for the Immigration Health Surcharge from £150 per year to £300 per year. This is likely to go into effect later this year but an exact date has not yet been confirmed. Please read the official government statement here for more information.
At the moment, the £150 per year charge is still in effect but note that you may be subject to a higher charge once the change is confirmed. Please remember to not rush your Tier 4 visa application and contact us if you have any questions.
*Important update 18/06/2018: From 6th July 2018, the list of low-risk nationals is changing. More information below in the section "Low-Risk Nationals"
Register for our 2018 live chats. See our webpage here for more info
If you are planning to do any of these full time courses at Aston University and are not a UK or EEA/EU national then you will require a Tier 4 visa.
The kind of visa you will need will usually be confirmed to you during the admissions stage. If you have been advised to get a Short Term Study visa, please refer to this page
Think of the visa application in two stages:
1) First get all the right documents to show you meet the Tier 4 requirements. You can do this while you are waiting for your CAS
1) First get all the right documents to show you meet the Tier 4 requirements. You can do this while you are waiting for your CAS
2) Apply for the visa online and complete the application process.
2) Apply for the visa online and complete the application process.
Everyone will apply for a Tier 4 visa using the UKVI online application portal (except North Korean nationals who must apply using a paper form) but before you proceed with the online form, you must first get all the right documents to show you meet the requirements.
The documents you provide will decide whether your visa application will be successful or refused.
We advise that you use our guidance and complete the visa application yourself.
But if you enlist the help of an agent to assist you in the visa application, then we strongly advise that you still make sure all of your documents and application form is correct and meet the visa requirements.
The UKVI cannot reconsider a visa refusal due to mistakes made by yourself or a third party.
All advice given through the International Student Advisers at Aston is free and confidential.
In the online visa application form, we advise that you apply for the Tier 4 (General) Student visa.
You can choose the Tier 4 (General) (Sponsored) student visa if you will be receiving official financial sponsorship (e.g. from your home government or university) but they will lead to the same visa
You are allowed to apply for your visa up to 3 months before your course start date.
The aim is to apply as early as possible but keep in mind that you cannot apply for your visa until you meet all of the requirements
You will need to apply from the country where you are a resident and usually through a UKVI partner. This will either be TLScontact or VFS global depending on your country.
"Resident" usually means the country which you are living. This is likely the country you are a national of but could also mean the country where you work or study.
You can't apply in a country where you are just a visitor.
If you are unsure where to apply then please contact us.
A Tier 4 visa is the right visa to do a full time course in the UK and a majority of overseas students will require this visa.
Unless you have another visa which allows full time study in the UK (e.g. Spouse visa, dependant visa, Indefinite leave to remain) then a Tier 4 visa is the correct route.
Documents all applicants will need:
Documents all applicants will need:
Documents you might need:
Documents you might need:
Documents you might need:
This is just a general checklist. The documents you provide to support your visa application are very important and must meet certain requirements so please see the section below for more information about each document.
Please ensure your documents meet the criteria as listed in the Tier 4 application guidance before applying. You are aiming to obtain all necessary documents in the right format before you move on to applying for your visa online. If you have any worries please contact us for advice.
Getting a CAS number is a compulsory part of your visa application and it will show the UKVI that we will sponsor you for study at Aston University.
The CAS number is a unique sponsorship number which Aston will create for you if you are eligible for one and once you obtain and accept an unconditional offer. You may also have to pay a deposit for certain courses.
It is an electronic document so it will be sent to you via email and contain information about your course as well as your personal information
You will need to do is check all information on the CAS is correct (e.g. personal details, course information and tuition fees paid) and then copy and paste the CAS number into your online application form when asked.
Getting an unconditional offer is not a guarantee you will get a CAS. Aston is legally obligated to assess your eligibility for a CAS number regardless of an unconditional offer. We must assess a variety of factors like an applicant's previous immigration history in the UK, visa refusals and how long someone has already spent studying in the UK.
Please see this page for further information about the CAS number and work placements
Please inform the visa compliance team of any previous visa refusals or pending visa applications .
You will need to provide your current passport for this visa application and it is advised you have at least 6 months left on it.
In addition to this, you will also need to provide any previous passports which you have used to travel to the UK.
The online visa application form will ask if you have a second nationality. It is up to you which nationality will be your primary nationality for this visa application, the visa requirements will be the same except for some special arrangements for low risk nationals
You should only have a BRP card if you had a previous visa in the UK. If you do have a BRP card with you overseas, then you should submit it with your visa application. If you have never had a BRP card before then ignore this section.
The UKVI will issue you a new one when you arrive in the UK. Please see section "What do I need to do after I submit the visa application form?" for more information about this.
Financial evidence is a key part of the visa application and the most common reason for visa refusals. It is very specific and we encourage all students to check their financial evidence with us before they apply for their visa.
The general rule is that you need to show that you have enough money to cover both your tuition fees and your living costs.
You will need to do the following:
1) First you need to confirm how much money you have to show. For your initial visa application, you will need to show you have enough money for your tuition fees plus living costs (maintenance). For your tuition fees, by default this is the whole tuition fee amount as shown on your CAS and will just be for your first year of study. Or if doing a 1 year masters course, it will be the whole tuition fee. Living Costs is usually £9135. Most full time students who are on a course lasting at least 9 months will need to show this amount. For those doing shorter courses like Pre-sessional English, the living cost amount is broken down as £1,015 per month of the length of the course for a maximum of 9 months. We always try and advise for everyone to show the max £9135 amount to be safe
For your tuition fees, by default this is the whole tuition fee amount as shown on your CAS and will just be for your first year of study. Or if doing a 1 year masters course, it will be the whole tuition fee. Living Costs is usually £9135. Most full time students who are on a course lasting at least 9 months will need to show this amount. For those doing shorter courses like Pre-sessional English, the living cost amount is broken down as £1,015 per month of the length of the course for a maximum of 9 months. We always try and advise for everyone to show the max £9135 amount to be safe
2) Then you must show that you have held this total amount for a of minimum 28 consecutive days before you apply for your visa
3) You are allowed to hold this money as foreign currency in an overseas bank account. You must make sure the the money you are holding in foreign currency is equivalent to the correct money in Great British Pounds (GBP) and the UKVI will only use the exchange rate on the OANDA website and they will not consider any other kind of exchange rate tool. The UKVI will use the exchange rate from the day you pay for your visa application.
You will usually prove you have held this money by providing some form of official financial evidence and it must show personal, readily available cash. This means you must show this money held in a current(checking) or savings account in your name or your parent's name. You cannot use evidence from:
You are allowed to deduct any tuition fees you have already paid for your course from the total amount you have to show
It is important to show you have paid this amount for the deduction to take any effect and you will usually do this by getting your CAS updated. If you want to rely on these deductions to show a lower amount of money then you must make sure your CAS is updated BEFORE you apply for your visa.
For example, your tuition fees are £10,000 and living costs are £9135. Before you complete your visa application, you pay £5000 toward tuition fee. Your CAS is updated to show these payments.
£10,000 + £9,135 = £19,135
£19,135 - £5000 = £14,135
You need to show £14,135 held for 28 consecutive days
The Home Office will only accept certain documents to prove you meet the financial requirement. The documents they will usually accept are:
Please see "Documents from parents/legal guardians" for information about using parents financial evidence.
The bank statement is required to have all of the following information to be considered as valid:
The 28 days
The bank statement ideally needs to show a series of transactions covering a full 28 consecutive day period and within this 28 day period, the money held cannot have dipped below the total amount you should be holding.
Must be new
This bank statement also needs to be new. This means that the closing balance (the last transaction date) needs to be dated within 31 days preceding the date you pay for your visa application. Sometimes the date the bank statement is printed can be used as the closing balance but it should be the actual closing balance. If the closing balance is dated more than 31 days before the date you pay for your visa application then the bank statement is invalid.
*See the example bank statement on the right
For example, you work out you need to hold £21,000 as your financial requirement. You plan to pay for your visa application on the 2nd February 2017. The bank statement you provide is from your current account and shows more than £21,000 held from the 1st January 2017 to the 1st February 2017.
The lowest amount the money ever dipped within this 28 day period was £21,485 but never below £21,000. This means the correct money has been held for 28 consecutive days. Also the closing balance is within 31 days preceding the date you want to pay for the visa application. This bank statement will be valid.
The bank statement you submit with your visa application should be:
You should not use bank statements you print yourself online. We cannot guarantee these will be accepted.
Official letter from bank or regulated financial institution An alternative to bank statements is to obtain an official letter from your bank or regulated financial institution. If you want to rely on this then the letter must be official and contain the following information:
*See the example bank letter on the right
The official bank letter you submit with your visa application should be:
It does not mean sponsored by family. If you are sponsored by any of the above then you will usually get an official letter from your sponsor explaining how much money for financial sponsorship you will be getting.
If your sponsor will be covering all of your tuition fees and more than £1015 per month for living costs then this official letter by itself will suffice as financial evidence.
However, if your financial sponsor is only covering some of your course fees or living costs, you must show that you have the rest of the money needed using the usual methods above. e.g. Your own bank statement
You must make sure that your financial sponsor is an official sponsor. If they are not an official sponsor then the UKVI will refuse the application. For example, using an International Company as your official financial sponsor but the company is then not deemed an "international" company. If you are unsure about whether your financial sponsor will be official, please contact us to check.
If you will be getting a loan from your government for educational purposes (e.g. American FAFSA or Sally Mae) then this is seen as an educational loan and can be accepted as financial evidence. If you are unsure then please contact us to check.
These are documents issued by a bank which confirm an individual has deposited or invested a sum of money, and is popular in visa applications from China. e.g. Bank of China, China Construction Bank, China Citic Bank
The UKVI will accept certificates of deposit but to be accepted they must meet the following rules:
The certificate of deposit must be original and be in your name or your parents name. It must also show you have enough money to meet the financial requirement.
We advise to try and avoid the use of certificates of deposit as the UKVI will not always accept them. If you must use a certificate of deposit then please contact us to check it before you apply for your visa.
The most common reason for visa refusals is incorrect financial evidence. The most common reasons are:
Did not hold the correct money for 28 days or did not clearly show money was held for 28 days (e.g. only showing one date on bank statement) Let money dip below the required amount within the 28 days Used financial evidence that was too old (not dated or closing balance within 31 days of intended application date) Did not use original documents Paid for visa application and then started holding money for 28 days. Financial evidence did not contain all the relevant information (Logo, account number, name, date, bank details, official financial sponsor information) Used invalid financial evidence (e.g. Credit card statement, Stocks/Shares, Family Business account, payslips, other family members accounts that weren't parents or own) Forgot to include documents (e.g. did not include birth certificate if using parents bank statement) Financial sponsor was not classed as an "official" financial sponsor
Remember that once you apply for your visa, no changes to any documents can be made.
There are some banks/financial institutions that are banned from use by the Home Office. If you provide any financial evidence from these banks then your visa application will be automatically refused.
Please check that your bank/financial institution is not on this list before you submit your financial evidence.
As part of your Tier 4 visa application, you must provide the original academic qualifications which Aston university assessed to give you an unconditional offer.
The Home Office need to see this as proof you have successfully obtained that qualification, and if you are unsure what that qualification was, then it will be written on your CAS.
*Waiting to confirm that you have completed a course can be one of the biggest reasons for delays in CAS production.
The original academic qualification will usually be an official certificate or transcript but this will include any English Language Tests also e.g. IELTS
The qualification must show:
If you will be applying from any of these countries then you will definitely require a Tuberculosis clearance certificate if:
You can only get the Tuberculosis certificate from approved UKVI clinics and the certificate must be included as part of your supporting documents.
Please refer to the UKVI website for more information about where you can get your Tuberculosis certificate if you need one.
ATAS means Academic Technology Approval scheme and it is a mandatory security clearance certificate for certain postgraduate courses.
You will be told if you need an ATAS certificate during the admission stage if you are unsure. If it is confirmed that you do not need an ATAS certificate then please ignore this section.
If you do require an ATAS certificate then you will apply for it using a free online service. There are some important things to know about ATAS:
Once you get your ATAS certificate, you will have to print it out and include with your application. An ATAS certificate must be used in a visa application within 6 months of getting it.
The evidence from your parents must contain all of the same information and meet the same rules as explained in the "financial evidence section" but you need to also include:
If you are relying on your parents financial evidence and do not include these documents then the financial evidence will be invalid.
Under 18 years old
If you are under 18 years old then you will need to include a letter of consent from your parents which explicitly states that they give you permission to travel and live in the UK independently. If the Home Office cannot see that this permission has been given then they will refuse the application.
Every one of these documents must be in English (or welsh)
This means all the original documents must be readable in English and if they are not, then you must provide an official English translation to accompany the document.
If the document is not in English or no official translation is provided, then the document will not be accepted and this can lead to a visa refusal.
*You cannot translate the document yourself.
An official translation must include the following information so the Home Office can independently verify it:
it must contain confirmation from the translator/translation company that it is an accurate translation of the original document the date of the translation, the translator/an authorised official of the translation company’s full name and signature, and the translator/translation company’s contact details
Nationals of some countries do not need to provide evidence of their qualifications or their money when they apply for Tier 4 (General). The Home Office calls this the 'differentiation arrangement' for 'low-risk applicants'.
You are a 'low-risk' applicant if you are applying for Tier 4 (General) to study at an institution that has Tier 4 Sponsor status, and:
* On the Tier 4 application form, select 'Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China' or 'Taiwan' (as appropriate) as your nationality.
From the 6th July 2018, the list of low-risk national students will be Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Botswana, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, The Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, The Maldives, Mexico, New Zealand , Qatar, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States of America
You will also be considered low-risk if you are:
A British National (Overseas), Hong Kong, Macau SAR or Taiwan (those who hold a passport issued by Taiwan that includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan).
It is very important that as a low-risk applicant you still obtain the evidence of your qualifications and your money, even though you do not need to send them. This is because the Home Office can request this evidence as part of their decision process and they will refuse your application if you are unable to provide it within a specified time-frame.
We will always advise that low-risk nationals prepare their documents in the same way as normal applicants.
4) APPLICATION FORM
Once you have all necessary documents to show you meet the Tier 4 visa requirements, you can then move on to completing the visa application form online.
You can draft and save the form anytime you like, even whilst you are getting your documents ready. But it is important not to submit it until you are sure your documents clearly show you meet the Tier 4 visa requirements.
Please read about BRP pick up location in the section below.
*VERY IMPORTANT - The UKVI will count the day you pay for the application as the official date you applied. All visa requirements should have been met by the day you pay for the application. For example, you should have already held money for 28 days and gotten the correct documents to show this by the time you pay for the application. You cannot pay for the application and then wait 28 days.
You can find the online application form here
Click the picture on the right for guidance on how to complete the form.
You will be making two payments for this visa application
Standard Visa application fee
Current fee is £348
This fee is subject to change and you will pay the equivalent of this fee in whatever your home currency is.
This is also the standard application fee for any dependants you include on your application.
Depending on which country you are applying from, there are usually services you can pay for that can expedite your visa application. If you want to explore using any of these extra services, find the UKVI partner which operates in your country and the information will be on their website.
Please note that some countries may ask you to "Register with a Commercial Partner" in order to proceed with your visa application. This will usually be in countries where there are a low number of visa applications to the UK or the Home Office presence is low. You may be asked to pay an extra administration charge equivalent to £55 which should be paid at the same time as the visa application fee
Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
This is the fee you must pay as a mandatory part of this visa application and it will cover the use of the national health service in the UK. You are only liable to pay this charge if you will get a Tier 4 visa that is over 6 months long.
It will be £150 per year for however long your visa will be.
Please note that your entire Tier 4 visa length usually includes 1 month before course start date and 4 months after the end date. Approximate calculations of your IHS fee will be based on the course start and end dates on your CAS:
1 Year course: £225
3 Year course: £525
4 Year course: £675
5 Year course: £825
*Please note that these prices are correct at the time of writing but there is a planned increase taking effect later this year. We will update this site once the price officially changes
The process can differ from country to country but the general idea is:
1) BRP pick up location If your visa application is successful, you will notice when you get your passport back that you will only have a 30 day entry sticker. You have to enter the UK within these 30 days and you will collect a BRP card in the UK which will contain the full time for your Tier 4 visa. To collect your BRP card from Aston University you must write 2HE554 for the alternative collection code [ASTON STUDENTS ONLY]. You MUST collect your full visa issued on a BRP card within 10 days of arrival in the UK or before your 30 day entry visa expires, whichever is later. Please refer to the picture below for reference.
2) Book an appointment at a visa application centre You will book an appointment at a nearby visa application centre to submit your biometric information (fingerprint and facial scans). Usually, you will also be submitting your documents at this appointment but depending on the country, you may just be asked to post your documents after the biometric enrolment e.g. Visa Application Centers in the US will ask an applicant to post their documents to the British Consulate in New York after the biometric appointment. You may also be interviewed during the appointment. More on that later
3) Print the UKVI Checklist and attend appointment You will be prompted to print the checklist and take this (along with all of your documents) to the appointment. Arrive in good time and once you have attended this appointment and documents have been submitted, you will usually just be waiting for a decision. Some visa application centers ask that you provide photocopies of all of your documents as well. We would usually advise that all applicants do this just so you have a copy of all documents being submitted. This will make challenging decisions easier.
Usually the application process can take up to 15 working days (3 weeks) if you opted for the standard application. Paying for priority services can shorten this time but with whatever application you decide to do, you need to factor in enough time to apply for your visa and arrive in the UK before the latest date of enrolment for your course. If you arrive after this date, we may not be able to accept you onto course despite you having a visa to study.
Be mindful that during the busy period (August to October), waiting times may be longer.
You can see up to date processing times here
Most Tier 4 applications should be Interviewed as part of the Tier 4 visa process. Interviews take place when you attend a visa application centre to give your biometric information. It will be done via videolink with a Home Office member of staff in the UK and they will ask you questions about
The transcript of your interview will be sent to the Home Office Entry Clearance Officer who decides your visa application. They will use it to determine your genuineness and English Language Ability. You may be called in for a further interview or your visa application may be refused if the Entry Clearance Officer determines you are not a genuine student.
We also advise that you read pages 100 - 105 of the Tier 4 Modernised guidance for further information about credibility interview factors.
Please also watch the videos below (produced by INTO Study) for advice about how to conduct yourself in the credibility interview.
Once you go through all the above stages, you should just be waiting for a decision on your visa application
We hope everything goes well and we look forward to welcoming you to Aston University
We encourage you to contact us at any point during this whole visa application process if you need help with anything. You can contact us by calling us on +44121 204 4007 or emailing us on email@example.com
We will need to see the visa refusal decision letter and to see your supporting documents.
Do NOT try and challenge a refusal without seeking our advice first.
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.
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.
For the financial requirement for your dependant (Spouse, a child under 18 years old), you will need to show that there is at least £6,120 held for 28 days available for each dependant’s living costs. If your dependant's new visa will last for less than 9 months then you should only need to show that you have at least £680 available for each dependant for each month (including part months) that the new visa will be granted for.
You will also have to pay the same application fee and immigration health surcharge to process the dependant visa application, and you should ideally apply all at the same time. Besides the financial requirement, there will be some other documents you need and they can be found here.
Click the picture below for information about how to get in contact with us