Making a Tier 4 visa application outside the UK

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:

Check if you need to apply for a Tier 4 visa.

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.

See the visa application documents you need to provide.

Proof of funds

Check what documents you need to supply to prove you have the money to do your course.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies

Find out how you get a CAS and why you need one.

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.

Check how long your visa will take to process.

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.

Credibility interview

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.

Find out how to prepare for your credibility interview.

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.

Collecting your biometric residence permit

You collect your biometric residence permit as part of the Sussex registration process.

See more from Applying for a student visa