So … Time to apply for the Tier 4 Visa?

Published by Maria - MSc Sustainable Chemical Engineering April 30, 2018 4:33 pm


First of all, if you are looking for support on this step, congratulations! This means you already have an acceptance letter, and you are one step closer to starting the amazing journey of studying aboard!

But (the ugly but…) it’s time to start the process of applying for a visa and if it’s your first time doing one you may be feeling a little bit anxious. If you’ve applied for a visa before, especially for those that have a “complex and exotic” passport like mine (Bolivia), you may know that it is a time consuming and tedious process. Some of the questions I had were, did I do everything correct? Is a document missing? Is the interview in English? What happens if I blank out and I can’t speak proper English??

First of all… don’t panic! Applying for a UK Tier 4 Visa is pretty easy IF you have all the documents, are well organized and, obviously, if you take your time to prepare them all correctly.

The UK Government’s Tier 4 Policy Guidance  provides useful information, please consult this for more information. Tier 4 policy guidance is also provided by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) and is a useful online source that offers advice for students. Based on my experience with visas (I’ve applied for 4), I wrote down a descriptive to-do-list, including some documents that you may not need, according to your nationality or the type of Master’s degree that you are applying for. Hopefully, you’ll need less documents than I did.

1-Travel document /Passport and nationality documents

Your passport must be valid for the duration of your stay in the UK, i.e. the length of your course. If you need to renew it, do so before University Admissions issues your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Study – see our guidance about applying for a visa for more information) and let them know. The information on your CAS must match the information on your passport so you must make sure your passport information is exactly as it should be. If the two don’t match, this could delay the whole process. Keep your old passport handy if you renewed it recently, because you will have to be able to provide evidence of your travel history: last 10 entrances in/out your country. Prepare your birth certificate, ID copy and your parents’ documents as well (if they are sponsoring your studies), this is to prove your nationality!


You will need two, new, passport sized photos which meet requirements outlined in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance. My advice is to have more, because you may need them later for further documents once you are in the UK.

3-University documents

This is the easy step, because you already have all of these documents (you might use them all for your course application). Include your ATAS certificate (Academic Technology Approval Scheme – see our ‘Your Offer Guide’ for more information), the University will tell you if you need one, some Master’s degrees don’t. You will also need original transcripts, diplomas, and your English exam: IELTS/TOEFL documents.

4-Evidence of funds!

If you don’t have a sponsor or a complete scholarship, this is one of the most important parts because you have to prove that you can pay for your Master’s degree and your living expenses for the entire year of the course. For more specific advice on finance, take a look at the UKCISA guidance and the UK Government’s Tier 4 Policy Guidance.


Remember, you are applying to the British Embassy. Yes! They speak English. Your documents must be in English as well. Make sure you have official translations of your diplomas, certificates and your bank statements! There are clear translation requirements, please make sure you look at these. More information is available in the UKCISA guidance and the UK Government’s Tier 4 Policy Guidance

6-Tuberculosis test

Check if you will need one as it depends on the country you are coming from. This could take some extra-time, because only a few clinics are approved by the British Embassy, so you will have to book and appointment and wait for your results! Hopefully you will not need this.

7-Create an account to start the application online

With all the documents above, this step is really straight forward! Just make sure to have a credit card to pay the fees online (application and medical insurance) because you may not be allowed to pay in cash in the application center. Book an appointment and print the confirmation.

8-Wait for your interview

My advice is to have additional copies of everything including of your passport, your diplomas and all the original documents. You will be asked to leave your copies, so if you have only the originals with you, you might be in trouble.

Have your documents in order and relax. The interview, if you want to call it that, is just checking your documents and maybe a few questions regarding your Master’s degree, why you chose the UK, the university, things you already wrote down in your application essay 😊  so don’t panic!

9-Roundtrip reservations

You might be asked to provide this as evidence of your planned arrival date in the UK. You don’t need to book the flights just the reservation, having in mind that you are allowed to travel just one month before the course starts (so don’t reserve tickets arriving in July, if your course starts in September!)

Lastly, please note you cannot apply for a visa until at most 3 months before your course starts and you must have received your CAS too. At this point, start doing the process as soon as possible, because all the steps require time! And even your passport can be returned back to you with the visa response in 15/20 days! If you do it promptly and properly I think you should not have any issues and you can start thinking about your next adventure!

Tier 4 visa pilot launched at Newcastle

We are pleased to be part of the UK government’s pilot to streamline Tier 4 visa applications.

The pilot is open to one year master’s students wanting to start their studies in September 2018 or January 2019. The pilot means that:

  • you experience a streamlined Tier 4 visa application process
  • you do not submit academic qualifications or evidence of funds as part of your visa application
  • you get six months leave at the end of your course as an opportunity to look for work in the UK
  • your dependents are included if your applications are made together and they do not have to provide evidence of funds
  • our Visa Support Team will support you through the new process

You will find out whether you are eligible for the pilot in your Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) statement. You will receive this around three months before your course starts.

Read more about the benefits, eligibility criteria and how to apply through the Tier 4 pilot.

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