Before you apply | University of Oxford
Renewing your visa
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Before you apply

This page is about when you need to apply, how to get your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number, whether you will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate and how the University’s Visa Advisers can help with your application.

Help with your visa application

The University's Visa Advisers can check your online application before you submit it, or check and send your application to the Home Office for you. For information on this optional free service, see Submitting your application. If you have queries while you prepare your application which are not answered in these pages, contact the Visa Advisers.

When to apply for your visa

Please first of all check that you will be allowed to make your visa application in the UK. You can only apply in the UK if you meet the restrictive ‘academic progression’ requirement, otherwise you will need to apply in your home country .

You should apply to renew or extend your visa before your latest visa expires.

Your official 'date of application' is the date on which you complete the application and pay the fee online, whether you then post your application cover sheet and documents to the Home Office or hand them in by appointment.

As long as your date of application is before your previous visa has expired you may legally remain in the UK while your application is processed. Your previous visa conditions such as your work permission continue to apply.

  • If your visa is for a new course, you cannot apply earlier than three months before the start date given on your CAS.
  • If you are applying to start studying at Oxford and your previous visa is for study at another institution you must apply for your visa before you enrol. You can then start studying while you wait for your visa.
  • If you are starting a new course at Oxford, having already completed a course at the University, you must submit an application for a visa for the new course not later than six weeks after you enrol on the new course, even if you have time left on the visa for your previous course.
  • If you are changing your course at Oxford before completing your previous course you may be able to continue to use your visa for the first course while it is still valid and apply when convenient. However this depends on the study condition attached to your current Tier 4 visa which in turn depends on when you applied for it. Please see the UKCISA website for more information. Even if you are allowed to start studying your new course, the Home Office recommends that you apply for the new visa as soon as possible but note that you might not be able to apply in the UK. If you are not allowed to start studying your new course on your existing visa you will need to return to your Home Country and apply for a new visa before starting. 

It is important to apply in time. To allow yourself time to prepare the application and obtain any documents you need we advise you to start work on it at least a month before you need to submit it.

It is against the law to remain in the UK beyond the expiry date of your visa without having made a further visa application, and being an ‘overstayer’ can have serious consequences for future visa applications. As from 24 November 2016 UK Visas and Immigration will only consider an application from an overstayer if made within 14 days of the visa expiry date and where there is a good reason beyond the applicant's control, which needs to be explained in the application. If your visa has already expired, email Student Immigration for advice.

Getting a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number

You need a CAS from the University before you apply for your visa:

If you are starting a new course as 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. Make sure your college, department or faculty has your current email address. 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. Your CAS is valid to use for a visa application for six months but you cannot apply for your visa earlier than three months before your course start date as given on the CAS.

If you are a continuing student and need a visa for more time to complete your course, contact your college (undergraduate and visiting students) or department (graduate and recognised students) for a CAS.

For Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) applications, follow the special instructions to request a CAS. 

You will have the opportunity to check your CAS in draft form: please do so and make sure you notify your college or department of any changes that are needed.

Your CAS number will be emailed to you in a 'CAS statement'. This also lists information that the University has sent to UK Visas and Immigration and the University’s Tier 4 Licensed Sponsor number and address, which you should use in your visa application as the address for your ‘primary site of study’.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate

Some students in science, engineering and technology subjects will need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before applying for a visa. Your CAS will state whether you need an ATAS certificate and your college or department can help you apply. You must get an agreed research statement from your department or a list of modules from your college (undergraduates) for your ATAS application.

You should apply for your ATAS certificate as soon as you can as they can take 20 working days or longer to process. If you are starting a new course, you can apply for ATAS while your offer is still conditional. You will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate before a visa application to continue a course even if you obtained an ATAS certificate for your previous visa application and your course has not changed.

If you are applying for the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), you do not need an ATAS certificate.

Further information about ATAS is available from the Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeApply for ATAS online. There is no fee.

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