Visa information

Do I need a visa?

This will depend on your nationality or country of residence. Use the UK Visas questionnaire to find out if you require a visa.

Important changes to the visa application process

In 2009 the United Kingdom Border Agency (now called the Home Office) introduced a points-based system for visa applications. Within this new system, Tier 4 relates to overseas students (not Home nor EU) who want to study in the UK. Tier 4 visa applicants need to be sponsored by an institution registered with the Border Agency.

All Tier 4 visa applications need to include a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number.

Once we have received your confirmation payment and your completed Acceptance Form, we will send you a Confirmation of Enrolment and, if you need a visa, a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number.

Applying for a visa

The UK Visas site gives basic information about applying. You can also download a visa application form. The visa4uk site allows applicants from some countries to apply online. For in-depth and up to date information, you should contact the British Embassy in your country.

The visa application process can take a long time so You should submit your application as early as three months before your course start date. You must get a visa before you travel. However, you cannot apply for a visa until three months before your course starts. You also cannot apply for a student visa to study at the International Study Centre before you have confirmed your offer of a place with us (i.e. payment of deposit has reached us and receipt of your completed Acceptance form).

Documents to submit with your visa application form

It is important to fill out the visa application form carefully. It is also very important to submit all supporting documents with your student visa application. If you do not submit all the necessary supporting documents, your visa application may be rejected. The documents that you submit with your visa application form are called supporting documents because they help show that you qualify to enter the UK as a student. These documents vary from case to case but they usually include:

  • Educational certificates - High School Certificate, Diploma Certificate, Degree Certificate or similar
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number - this is given to you by the International Study Centre after you confirm your place
  • Your passport
  • Passport style photos of yourself
  • Previous visa document (if any)
  • Confirmation of Enrolment from the International Study Centre
  • Proof of funds - this is evidence of your ability to pay the costs of your studies and your living expenses in the UK (e.g. bank statements) if you are going to pay for yourself or if your parents/family member is going to pay for you
  • Details of government or private sponsorship if you are sponsored by your government or a company

These documents MUST be ORIGINAL not PHOTOCOPIES !

NB: Ensure that your supporting documents (e.g. educational certificates, proof of funds) show the same things as what you write on your visa application form. This must also be the same as what is on the Documents Assessed section on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement.

Proof of funds

Proof of funds is the evidence that you submit to the Home Office to show that you have enough money to pay for your studies, accommodation and other expenses while in the UK. The Home Office need to see this proof before they can give a student visa. A guide to working out the amount you will need can be found on the Home Office website. We have listed below the usual things needed for proof of funds when submitting your student visa application:

  1. The funds need to be placed into a nominated bank account. You must show that you have held the required money for a consecutive 28 day period (finishing on the date of the closing balance) ending no more than 31 days before your application. For further information, please see the Home Office Tier 4 Policy Guidance.
  2. These documents must not be dated more than 31 days before the date you submit your student visa application.
  3. If someone else is paying for your studies (e.g. parents) you will need to provide documentary proof of your relationship (e.g. birth certificate).

Submitting your application

After gathering all the supporting documents and filling out the application form, you can then complete your visa application by submitting it to your nearest British Embassy, usually in your country. You need to submit your application at least four (4) weeks before your course entry date. The address of your local British Embassy can be found on the following websites:

What if I already have a UK student visa (Tier 4)

If you got your visa in or after October 2009 you have to apply for a new student visa (Tier 4) to study at the International Study Centre. However, if your visa was issued before October 2009 you may only need to notify the Home Office of your change of institution. We advise you to check with the International Study Centre where our Student Enrolment Advisers will tell you exactly what to do.

Student Credibility interviews

In July 2012 the Home Office introduced a pilot scheme of Credibility Interviews enabling Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) and Entry Clearance Managers (ECMs) to invite students for an interview as an additional tool to help them assess a student’s genuine intentions to study. In December 2012 the Home Secretary announced the pilot to have been a success and the Credibility Interview will now be introduced worldwide with the intention to interview 100,000 students applying from outside the UK. This will not include “low risk nationals”. For the full list of “low risk” nationals please click here.

To achieve this, the Home Office will be introducing a new video interview whereby all students will be asked to sit a short video interview with a member of Home Office staff based in the UK and this will form part of the usual visa application process.The Home Office will begin the new video interviews across all regions throughout May 2013 and should be fully implemented worldwide by June 2013.

The University of Surrey International Study Centre is run in partnership with Study Group who are seeking to work closely with the Home Office and other relevant bodies and associations to assist in producing information and training materials to help students and understand the new Credibility Interview process.

In addition, we have produced our own information guides, including example questions, to provide support and help for our partners and students.

This outlines details of the possible questions which a student may be asked and includes links to various sources of information that may be helpful to students.

This outlines the potential process a visa application will take under the new arrangements.

What happens if I cannot get a visa?

All payments are refundable in the event that a student is unable to meet visa entry requirements, subject to an official visa rejection letter.

How do I extend my visa?

You may need to extend your visa at some point during your course. Speak to the Head of Centre a month before your visa ends. If you have not attended a minimum of 80% of your classes, your request for an extension may be rejected.

Further information

Home Office website: Applying for a Tier4 visa

The UK Council for International Student Affairs: Frequently Asked Questions about studying in the UK

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