You may be able to make your visa application in the UK if your current visa is either Tier 4, or other type of visa from which switching to Tier 4 is allowed. You should normally apply before your current visa expires. You are not allowed to apply in the UK if you are here as a Short-term Student or Visitor.
Check that you can make your application from within the UK
If you are applying for a visa for a new course and want to apply in the UK, the start date of the new course must be no later than 28 days after the expiry date of your latest visa. If there is a gap of more than 28 days following the expiry date of your current visa before your course starts, you must apply in your country of nationality or usual residence.
Home Office 'Academic progression' requirement
Warning: this requirement may mean that you cannot apply in the UK, even if you meet other requirements, and will have to apply from your home country.
If you have already been studying in the UK with a Tier 4 visa, normally you will only be able to apply in the UK again under Tier 4 if you have successfully completed your course and will be studying at a higher academic level, for example you have successfully completed an undergraduate degree and will be starting a masters or you have successfully completed a masters and will be starting a DPhil. Note that the requirement to have successfully completed the course for which your Tier 4 visa was assigned may mean that you cannot apply in the UK if you have switched course without completing your original course and are applying for more time to complete the course you switched to. To satisfy the academic progression requirement for an in-country application you will have to provide proof of completion by sending your degree certificate, a final academic transcript or formal written confirmation from the course organiser. If you are going on to a new course at the same academic level it should either complement your current studies, involve deeper specialisation or support your career aspirations to meet the Home Office ‘academic progression’ requirement, see the Tier 4 policy guidance (academic progression section). Students who need to make a Tier 4 application to complete a DPhil, resit an exam or repeat a section of a course do not have to show academic progression.
This is a summary of the requirement, you should also look at the Tier 4 policy guidance (PDF) (academic progression section).
If you are unsure whether your further study meets the academic progression please contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for advice. The Home Office may be reviewing the requirement so contact us to check the latest information.
You do not need to meet the ‘academic progression requirement’ if you make your Tier 4 application outside the UK.
Time limit on study in the UK
Your Tier 4 application must not lead to you spending more than five years on Tier 4 Student visas and/or the older type of student visa for degree level study.
There are exceptions to the five year limit:
- if you have completed a four or five year undergraduate degree course in the UK and will be studying a taught Masters at Oxford, the time limit is six years;
if the time limit would prevent you completing a degree level course it may be extended to five years and 11 months (or six years and 11 months if you studied a four or five year undergraduate course and your application is for a taught Masters);
- if you will be studying a DPhil or MSc by research there is no limit while you are studying this course;
- but if you have already completed a doctorate in the UK, any new application for study is subject to an eight year overall limit including study below degree level;
- applications for some courses are exempt from the limit including architecture, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and science, conversion or professional law courses following a degree in the UK, or music at a Conservatoire. However time spent on these courses cannot be deducted from any future time limit calculation for study on a non-exempt course.
Visit the UKCISA website for information and how to calculate the time limit. If you think that the time limit may be a problem for your application, email Student Immigration for advice or email@example.com for a calculation of the time limit.
Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for access to NHS treatment
The IHS was introduced as part of Tier 4 and other visa applications, including student dependants in April 2015. The charge must be paid even if you have your own private medical insurance and do not intend to use the NHS.
You will be required to pay for the IHS online as part of your visa application. You will be charged £150 for each year or part year over six months of the visa being applied for, plus £75 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 charge even if the period applied for is less than six months.
Students who have obtained a visa before the IHS was implemented will be covered as normal for NHS treatment unless and until they need to make a further visa application.
Children born in the UK who are the dependants of a Tier 4 or other time-limited visa holder may not be eligible for NHS treatment after the age of three months unless a visa application has been made for them and the IHS paid.
For further information on the IHS, see the Home Office website.
- Before you apply: your application and timing, how to get a CAS and how to get an ATAS certificate for your course (if required)
- Requirements for your application: funding evidence, qualifications and documents
- Submitting your application: step-by-step guide and choosing a service
- After you have applied: enrolling biometrics, awaiting a decision, getting your documents and visa back and your responsibilities