Tier 4 student visas
Autumnal scene in Balliol College, Oxford
Copyright © Rob Judges Photography. This image comes from Oxford University Images. All rights reserved.

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. 

Read the Oxford guide to applying in your home country for applications outside the UK. The guide contains full instructions on how to complete all parts of your visa application form.

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 your student visa has been approved but your 90 day travel vignette (which allows you to travel to UK and collect your BRP) will expire before you travel to the UK, then see the UKCISA website (30-day vignette expired outside the UK). This explains how to obtain a replacement travel vignette to allow you to travel to the UK.

New Student Immigration system from 5 October 2020

The Student Route (Student visa) replaced the previous Tier 4 Student system on 5 October 2020 for applications made on or after 9.00am. The student route is similar to  Tier 4 system but includes EU/EEA and Swiss nationals starting study on or after 1 January 2021 who have not applied under the EU Settlement Scheme. 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 you are eligible we recommend applying as soon as possible. Current Tier 4 visa holders do not need to take any action and your Tier 4 visa conditions remain the same. Any further application for study would be under the new student route. Students who have a pending application submitted before 5 October will be granted a Tier 4 visa.

Masters students starting a course of 13 months or less

The Tier 4 Pilot Scheme (see FAQs about this scheme) closed for visa applications made on or after 5 October 2020. If your Tier 4 visa was granted under the scheme you retain the benefits of it and do not need to take any action. 

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 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. If you are applying for your visa from outside the UK the earliest you can apply is 6 months before the course start date given on your CAS. If you are applying in the UK the earliest you can apply is three months before the start date 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.

Your CAS gives information about fees for your course and may list one or more of your academic qualifications on which your offer was based. Check our application guide to see if you will need to provide evidence of finances with your visa application. If you are coming for degree level study you probably won't have to provide evidence of previous qualification. 

Read this page for more information about your CAS number and frequently asked questions. 

2. Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Please note the online ATAS application system is closed for essential maintenance from 9 May 2021 and should reopen again on 14 May 2021.

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is for security clearance from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for courses where students’ knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery. 

You may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate if you are studying for a Masters or DPhil in certain science subjects, mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine or a 4 year undergraduate Masters in Physics or Materials. 

If you are a nationals of an EU country, the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the United States of America you do not need an ATAS certificate.

For a list of courses at Oxford that require ATAS at postgraduate level, see the Graduate Admissions website

If you are applying for a Student route visa or a visitor for study visa for an ATAS subject you will need an ATAS certificate to include with your visa application. 

If you will be studying on a different kind of visa, for example on a Skilled worker or Youth mobility visa or you hold a visa as the dependant of another visa holder, then you will need a certificate before enrolling on or continuing an ATAS subject course. 

You need a course code called a CAH3 code and approved research statement from your department or, at undergraduate level, a list of modules from your college, before applying for ATAS. Your CAS will also state whether you require an ATAS certificate, but you can apply for ATAS before you get your CAS or before your offer is confirmed as long as you get the correct information from your Department or College. 

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

3. Where and how to apply for your visa

Find out where and how to apply for your visa in your home country on the Home Office website

Download and read the Oxford guide to applying in your home country.

If you are already in the UK, you may be able to apply in-UK for your student visa, though not if you are here as a visitor or without a visa. Our page on applying for a Student visa in the UK explains 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 or start your course. 

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 £1023 a month;
  • If you will be or are currently living in University accommodation you will only be able to offset a maximum of £1,334 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 only need a TB test if you are coming to the UK for more than six months, but remember to count the extra time after your course end date that will be included in your visa
  • 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

If you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months you will be required to pay the IHS as part of your Student visa application. Any dependants will also need to pay this. 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 £470 for each year or part year over six months of the visa being applied for, plus £235 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. There is full information on the IHS on the Home Office website.

If you have a European Health Insurance Card issued by your country of nationality you might be eligible for a refund of the Immigration Health Surcharge paid as part of your Student Visa application. However this refund may only be available if you have not worked in the UK. For further information see the Home Office's page on IHS refunds

6. Biometric appointment and processing your visa

After you have completed your visa application you will need to book a biometric appointment to give a face scan and fingerprints, after which your visa application will be processed.  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. If your application is going to take longer than 15 days UKVI will contact you. 

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. For students arriving to start in Michaelmas term only there may be an option to collect your BRP from your college, at other times of year this option is not 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 student.immigration@admin.ox.ac.uk 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.

Was this page useful?*