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

As an international student (non EEA/Swiss) coming to the University to study a full-time course of more than six months you must apply for a visa under Tier 4 (General) Student before coming to the UK to start your course, otherwise you will not be allowed to enter the UK.

Read the Oxford guide to completing Tier 4 student online application form for applications outside the UK. The guide contains full instructions on how to complete all parts of your visa application.

Masters students starting a course of 13 months duration or less

The University of Oxford, along with a number of other UK Universities, has been chosen to participate in a pilot scheme for students starting a Masters course of 13 months duration or less. As part of the pilot scheme you will not be required to provide evidence of previous academic qualifications or financial information when submitting documents to support your visa application. You will also be issued with a visa valid for 6 months beyond the end date of your course. Please note that you must still ensure that your academic qualification and financial evidence meets the Tier 4 requirements and is available in the correct original format, as these documents can be requested during processing and spot checks may be made. Please read these FAQs for important details about this scheme. 

Formal sponsorship

The UK government requires you to be formally sponsored by a licensed UK higher education institution - the University of Oxford in our case. 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.

1. Receiving your CAS number

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 Tier 4 Licensed Sponsor number, name and address.

For your visa application you will need original 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 prior to applying for a Tier 4 visa.

This requirement has now been expanded to study in these specific subjects 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 Tier 4 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.  This does not apply retrospectively to those who already have a non-Tier 4 visa or who are already in the UK as a short-term student .

All subject areas studied at UK universities are identified by a CAH3 code. The UK government has used these codes to identify the areas of study for which students require an ATAS certificate. Contact your department/college to find the CAH3 code of your course and see if you need an ATAS certificate.

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 approved research statement from your department or, at undergraduate level, a list of modules from your college, before applying. If this applies to your subject your CAS will also state that you require an ATAS certificate. Contact your department if you have been offered a place but have not received this research statement.

ATAS applications are free, submitted online, take up to 20 working days 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. In most countries you have to apply online. Download the guide to completing Tier 4 student online application form.

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

For those applying for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa from both overseas and in the UK:

  • There is a maximum five year time limit for study on courses at degree level (undergraduate and master’s). There are some exceptions, including those studying for a DPhil. Do check that your planned course of study will not take you over the maximum time limit allowed by the Home Office;
  • 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.
  • (Overseas applications only) Do ensure that you have at least one blank page, front and back, in your passport or travel document otherwise processing may be delayed or rejected.

4. Tuberculosis (TB) Screening

If you will be studying in the UK for more than six months, nationals of certain countries must be screened for TB before applying for a visa to come to the UK. The Home Office provides a list of the countries where TB testing is a requirement. Nationals of these countries are required to obtain a certificate from an accredited clinic showing that they are free from infectious tuberculosis. You will have to meet the cost of this screening. Applicants without a certificate are normally refused a visa.

5. Check your visa requirements

Check the requirements for your Tier 4 (General) Student Visa and get information on how to apply.   When applying most students will choose Tier 4 (General) but there is a separate option for Chevening, Marshall and Commonwealth scholars.   All other scholarship holders should choose Tier 4 (General).

6. 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 Tier 4 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. 

With effect from 8 January 2019 the IHS 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.

Students who already have a visa will be covered as normal for NHS treatment unless and until they need to make a further visa application.

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

7. 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. Processing times vary widely between countries; some will process applications in five working days while other countries may take several weeks or longer. You can check the processing times for your country using the Home Office guide.

8. When your visa is issued

If your Tier 4 visa application is for a course longer than six months a short 30-day travel visa will be stuck into your passport to allow you to travel to the UK. On arrival in the UK you will have the choice to collect your BRP (Biometric Residence Permit), with the full visa duration for your course, from either the Examination Schools (for entry in October 2019), the main Post Office in Oxford or a Post Office nearer to your residential address. Further information about when and how to choose the collection location is contained in the FAQs and the guide to completing Tier 4 student online application form .

Frequently asked questions about collecting your BRP.pdf

9. 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.

10. Your responsibilities once you arrive in Oxford

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) collection

You must collect your BRP (the full visa) within 10 days of arrival in the UK. 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 scan both your passport and the BRP. Do also carefully check the information on the BRP card.  If there is an error please see Section 12 below.

Frequently asked questions about collecting your BRP.pdf

Passport scanning

When you start at the University, you will need to take your passport and visa to your college to scan as required by the UKVI. This will usually be done at University registration for all new students. Recognised students will need to take their passport with their visa to the Examination Schools to be scanned. See your Tier 4 visa obligations.

Police Registration

Nationals of some countries are required to register with the police. Visit 'Registering with the Police' for a list of those nationalities who have to register.  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.

11. 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.  Tier 4 pilot scheme students will receive an additional 6 months (first item on this page).

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.

12. 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.

13.  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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