Find out everything you need to know about applying for a Tier 4 visa from outside of the UK.
What you need to apply for a visa
You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:
- are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) (including Switzerland)
- have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), issued by Sussex once you have accepted an unconditional offer based on our entry requirements
- have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course and submit the correct documents and financial evidence when you apply
- meet other eligibility requirements as set out by the UK Government.
When and where you can apply
The earliest you can apply for your visa is three months before your course start date.
You can apply in the country where you are living. “Living” means you are in the country lawfully for a reason other than a short-term visit, such as work or studying. You can’t apply if you’re a tourist.
Documents you need for a visa
There are several documents most people will need to supply to get a visa.
Proof of funds
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies
Cost of application
It costs £348 to apply outside the UK. You must also pay £348 per person for any dependants.
You also have to pay a healthcare surcharge of £300 for each year of your course. This also applies for each dependant.
Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.
Apply online for your visa
You must apply online on the UKVI website.
Tip: You can download our guide to completing the Tier 4 application from outside the UK [PDF 1MB].
Attending a visa application centre
You must go to a visa application centre to have your fingerprints and photo taken for your biometric residence permit (BRP).
You normally submit all your application documents at the centre.
Many centres have extra ‘user pay services’ (such as priority visa processing and document checks) which you pay for online or when you go to the centre. Check the website of your visa application centre to see what services they have.
You may need to do a credibility interview (done via a video link) with UKVI as part of your visa application.
If you don’t attend your interview, your visa application may be refused.
Receiving your visa
If your visa is for longer than six months, you receive a 30-day vignette (sticker) in your passport.
This is either 30 days before the course start date on your CAS or seven days before the date you said you would travel to the UK, whichever is later.
If you don’t travel to the UK during this period, you must apply and pay for another vignette if you still want to come to the UK.
If you travel to the UK before the 30 days (for example, as a tourist), you’ll need to leave and re-enter during the 30-day period.
The vignette in your passport allows you to enter the UK within 30 days but it’s not your actual visa.
When you arrive in the UK, you collect a biometric residence permit (BRP). This is your visa.
Studying for fewer than six months
If your visa is for fewer than six months, you receive a vignette (sticker) in your passport. This is your visa for your entire study period. Check the end date is correct.
How long your visa will last
If your course is:
- 12 months or longer, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus four months
- between six and 12 months long, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus two months
- less than six months long, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus seven days.
If you’re studying a pre-sessional course which is less than six months, you receive a visa that is the length of your course plus one month.
Arriving in the UK
See our guidance for what to do when you arrive in the UK.