Student visa (Student Route) | University of Oxford
Tier 4 student visas
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Student visa (Student Route)

As an international student coming to the University to study a full-time course of more than six months you must apply for a Student visa (under the Student Route) before coming to the UK to start your course. Even if you are able to enter the UK as a visitor without a visa, it is not possible to then apply in the UK for your Student visa.

Read the Oxford guide to completing the online Student Route visa application form for applications outside the UK. The guide contains full instructions on how to complete all parts of your visa application.

Coronavirus, your visa application and getting to the UK: see the University website which has information for offer holders

You MUST attend your biometrics appointment and obtain your Student visa before coming to the UK. 
You CANNOT come to the UK as a visitor and switch visa status. We CANNOT enrol you on a visitor visa, so you would not be able to start your course. 
These are Home Office requirements that students and the University must follow. 

If, due to the pandemic, you are unable to secure a visa in time or cannot travel because of flight restrictions, your department/college and Student Immigration will look at solutions to help you start your studies which may include an initial online/remote period of study if deemed necessary. 

New Student Immigration system from 5 October 2020: some changes for visa applications 

The Tier 4 Student system was rebranded on 5 October to become the Student Route (Student visa). It is essentially similar to the previous Tier 4 system but with EU/EEA and Swiss nationals able to apply for a Student visa if they are starting on or after 1 January 2021 and do not have (or are not eligible to apply for) pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Current EU/EEA or Swiss nationals resident in the UK before 11pm 31 December 2020 have until 30 June 2021 to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme and do not need a visa if they apply under the EU Settlement Scheme but should not delay applying for the scheme. Current Tier 4 visa holders do not need to take any further action as their Tier 4 visa conditions remain the same, and students who have a pending application submitted before 5 October will be granted a Tier 4 visa.

For visa applications made on or after 5 October 2020, the new changes are explained on the UKCISA webpages. These changes include nationals from the following countries being exempt from ATAS: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA (EU/EEA and Swiss nationals will also be exempt from ATAS); the maximum visa time limits for previous study in the UK have been removed for postgraduate courses; and if you have been living in the UK for more than 12 months you will not need to submit any financial evidence for maintenance with your visa application.

Masters students starting a course of 13 months duration or less

Note that the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme (see FAQs about this scheme) closed for visa applications made on or after 5 October 2020, so you can no longer benefit from this scheme. 

1. Student visa sponsorship and your CAS

The University of Oxford is the sponsor for your student visa. Once your offer to study is unconditional (you have met all academic and financial conditions) the University will contact you by email about the preparation of your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This is a unique number that will enable government officers to access information which your college and the University have provided. If you are an undergraduate or visiting student, your college will contact you by email about your CAS. If you are a postgraduate or recognised student, your department or faculty will contact you.

If you have an unconditional offer and have not received your CAS three months before the start of your course, contact your college or department. Check your CAS and follow the instructions to report any errors or changes. Your CAS is valid to use for a visa application for six months but you cannot apply for your visa until three months before your course start date as given on the CAS.

Your CAS number, which you need for your visa application, will be emailed to you in a 'CAS statement' which lists the information that the University has sent to the Home Office and the University’s Licensed Sponsor number, name and address.

For your visa application you will need original or copy certificates or transcripts for the qualifications listed on your CAS statement (though some nationals will be exempt from submitting them). The statement lists your course fees for one year and whether you have paid any money for University accommodation. You must follow Home Office instructions about sending or having available documents showing you have funding for your fees and living expenses.

2. Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Some postgraduate research students and undergraduate students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before applying for a Student visa.

Since October 5 2020 the following nationalities have been exempt from the ATAS requirement: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA. EU/EEA and Swiss nationals will also be exempt from ATAS under the new immigration system introduced on the same date. 

The UK Government uses CAH3 codes assigned to all subject areas studied at UK Universities, to identify the subject areas which require an ATAS certificate. For a list of courses at Oxford that require ATAS at postgraduate level, see the Graduate Admissions website. For undergraduates,  only the 4 year courses in Physics or Materials require ATAS. 

ATAS is also required for all types of visa or permission to enter, for example Tier 2, Tier 5, as a dependant or as a short-term student coming to Oxford for less than 6 months.  If you are not applying under the Student Route for a visa and wish to study one of the ATAS subjects, you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can enrol on your course (Tier 2, Tier 5 or dependant).   Short-term students will need an ATAS certificate to support a visa application or, if a visa is not required in advance of travel,  to show to a Border Force Officer upon arrival in the UK. 

If you need a CAS you do not need to wait for one to be issued to apply for an ATAS certificate although you must obtain the relevant CAH3 code and approved research statement from your department or, at undergraduate level, a list of modules from your college, before applying. Your CAS will also state whether you require an ATAS certificate. Contact your department, or college (for undergraduates) if you have been offered a place but have not received the CAH3 code and relevant information.

ATAS applications are free, submitted online, take up to 20 working days (30 working days between April and September) to process and certificates are sent to you by email.

3. Where and how to apply for your visa

Find out where and how to apply for your visa (Entry Clearance) in your home country on the Home Office website. Visa application centres were closed in April and May but began to reopen from 1 June but this may vary by country. We will keep you informed throughout the summer as more visa centres reopen and the Oxford guide below has links to which centres are now open. 

Download the Oxford guide to completing the Student visa online application form.

You will not be able to apply for your Student visa from within the UK unless you are already in the UK with a Student visa for previous study and you meet specific academic progress conditions or you have a visa type which allows switching into the Student Route. Our page on applying for a Student visa in the UK explains the limited circumstances in which you can apply here.  You MUST not come to the UK as a visitor or without a visa as you will not be able to make a Student visa application from within the UK and you will not be able to start your course. 

Visa application processing may take longer if your country sends applications to another country for processing.

For those applying for a Student visa:

  • There is a maximum five year time limit for study on courses at undergraduate degree level with exceptions for some courses. The time limits for postgraduate study were removed under the new Immigration System introduced on 5 October 2020;
  • The amount of maintenance you need to show is £1015 a month;
  • If you will be or are currently living in University accommodation you will only be able to offset a maximum of £1265 against the amount you have to show for maintenance (if you will be or are currently living in University accommodation) even if you have paid more than this to the University;
  • Student visa interviews are now part of the visa application process in many countries. For information, check the website belonging to the country from where you are applying for a visa.
  • You must have at least one blank page in your passport or travel document for your visa sticker to be added to.

4. Tuberculosis (TB) Screening

You might need to have a TB test and get a screening certificate to show you do not have TB for your visa application if you are living in any of these listed countries or have been recently.

  • The certificate is valid for six months from the date of your x-ray so you can’t use a test older than this for your visa application
  • The TB test must be done at an approved clinic
  • If you have been living in a listed country shortly before your visa application, you will need a TB test even if you are applying in a country not on the list.
  • You don’t need to have a TB test if you are only coming to the UK for six months or less
  • You don’t need a TB test if you lived for at least 6 months in a country which is not on the list and you’ve been away from that country for no more than 6 months
  • If you don’t need a test but are applying for your visa in one of the listed countries make sure it is clear where you have been living on your visa application form, for example use the additional information box at the end to explain.

5. Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for access to NHS treatment

For anyone coming to the UK for more than 6 months an IHS is paid as part of a Student visa application, including student dependants. The IHS must be paid even if you have your own private medical insurance and do not intend to use the NHS. Paying the IHS means that you will have access to the UK's National Health Service on the same basis as other UK residents. 

The IHS is charge is £300 for each year or part year over six months of the visa being applied for, plus £150 for part of a year that is less than six months. If a student (or a dependant) is making a visa application in the UK, they will be required to pay the health surcharge even if the period applied for is less than six months.

The surcharge will increase from £300 to £470 per year for visa applications made in late October 2020 (date to be confirmed). 

Full details of how charging (and refunds) are administered are available on the Home Office website

6. Biometric appointment and processing your visa

After you have commenced your visa application you will be invited to attend a biometric appointment to give a face scan and fingerprints. The processing of your visa application only begins after you have submitted your biometric details. Follow the instructions on the Home Office website about when and how to send in your documents. The standard processing time is 15 working days but you can often pay for a priority service for a quicker visa decision, but this service may be more limited in some countries during the pandemic. 

7. When your visa is issued

If your Student visa application is for a course longer than six months a 90-day travel visa will be stuck into your passport when your visa is approved to allow you to travel to the UK. On arrival in the UK you will need to collect your BRP (Biometric Residence Permit), with the full visa duration for your course, from the main Post Office in Oxford or a Post Office nearer to your residential address. The option to collect the BRP from your college was only available for a peak period at the start of Michaelmas term and is no longer available. 

8. When can you come to Oxford?

The date you can arrive in the UK will be the 'valid from' date on your visa. This will usually be seven days before the ‘intended date of travel’ you put on your visa application but cannot be earlier than one month before your course starts.  You should not attempt to enter the UK before your travel visa is valid. If you are coming for less than six months, and are not on a pre-sessional course, you will be issued with the full-length visa which is stuck into your passport before you travel but it will only start seven days before the course. 

9. Your responsibilities once you arrive in Oxford

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) collection

You must collect your BRP (the full visa) as soon as you can. However, the requirement to collect your BRP within 10 days of arriving does not apply during the pandemic if you need to quarantine or if your flight is delayed, but collect it as soon as you can after you have finished quarantine. You will receive information about this from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) in your country of application. Please collect your BRP promptly so that you can enrol; your college will need to have an electronic copy of both your passport id page and the BRP. Do also carefully check the information on the BRP card.  If there is an error please see Section 11 below.

Passport scanning

When you start at the University, your college will need an electronic copy of your passport id page and visa as required by the UKVI. This will be collected electronically this year and your college will explain the process to you when they begin your enrolment. Recognised students will need to liaise with the Student Information team who will manage their enrolment. See your Student visa obligations.

Police Registration

Nationals of some countries are required to register online with the police. Visit 'Registering with the Police' for a list of those nationalities who have to register and information about changes during the pandemic.  New students have to register online within 7 days of arrival in the UK.  Police registration is a routine procedure and there is no need to be concerned about it. 

  • New students applying for a Police Registration Certificate need to contact Thames Valley Police. Our Police registration webpage provides additional information about the whole process.
  • Students who already have a Police Registration Certificate and only need to update certain information (personal details, address, new visa/passport), should also access the Thames Valley Police webpage and follow the instructions or look at our webpage where there is further information.

10. Student and University obligations for visa holders

The University is required to tell the Home Office if you do not arrive for enrolment, leave your course, suspend your studies, or if you are absent for a long period. Please keep your college or department up-to-date with any changes in your circumstances, including your contact details and any matters that may affect the progress of your studies.

It is your responsibility to keep to the conditions of your visa and to make sure you do not stay beyond its end date, unless you have put in a renewal application. If you break the conditions, you could be prosecuted or made to leave the UK and it could make it more difficult for you to get another visa.

Your visa will be issued for study at the University of Oxford only, for the course and duration specified on your CAS statement. You will usually be granted an additional two or four months after your course end date depending on the length of your course.  

For information on renewing / extending your visa while you are in the UK, travel, working during your study and your legal responsibilities, visit during your studies.

11. Correcting errors

It is possible to amend an error which appears on your Biometric Residence Permit once you have collected this in the UK. The Home Office should be advised of any error within 10 working days of collecting your BRP. A mistake can be amended free of charge by emailing the Home Office.  For more details, visit the Home Office webpage and follow the instructions.

If you have been issued with a visa for the length of your course which is stuck into your passport and you think there is a mistake, please contact attaching a copy of the visa sticker in your passport.

12.  Visas for your Family

For information about who can accompany you to the UK as a dependant and how to apply for a visa, please see our Visas for your family page.

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