Adult students - Tier 4 (General)
Applying from inside the UK
This page explains how you should apply for permission to remain in the UK under Tier 4 (General) of the points-based system, if you are currently:
- in the UK as a student under Tier 4, and you want to extend your stay in this category so that you can continue your studies here; or
- in the UK under a different immigration category, and you want to become an adult student here under Tier 4 (General). Depending on your current immigration category, you may or may not be able to 'switch' into Tier 4 (General) - see 'More information' below.
If you are a student completing a PhD at a UK higher education institute you can apply to stay in the UK for a further 12 months after your course completion date. For further information see 'more information' below.
Before you apply, you should read the Can you apply? pages to find out whether you are likely to score enough points to make a successful application.
The When to apply page explains when you should submit your application to us.
The Where to apply page explains how to submit your application by post, by courier or in person.
How to apply
If you think you are eligible to apply, you can access the application form, help text and policy guidance from the right side of this page. You must read the policy guidance before you make your application. The 'print and send' form enables to you complete your application, pay and book an appointment online (if required). You must then print your application form.
Alternatively you can download an application form and complete by hand. If you have more than 10 dependents you must download an application form and complete by hand.
You will then need to:
- use our standard service to post your application form and supporting documents, and then enrol your biometric information; or
- use our premium service to enrol your biometric information and submit your application form and supporting documents in person at one of our public enquiry offices, and (in most cases) get a decision about your application on the same day. For more information, see the Applying in person section.
As part of your application, you will need to enrol your fingerprints and facial photograph (known as 'biometric information') with us in order to obtain a biometric residence permit. The Biometric information page explains how to do this.
There are special application requirements if you are currently in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man - see 'More information' below.
Can you switch into the Tier 4 (General) student category?
You can switch into Tier 4 (General) without leaving the UK if you have, or were last given, permission to stay in one of the following categories:
- Tier 1 (Post-study work)
- Tier 2 (General)
- Tier 2 (Intra company transfer)
- Tier 2 (Minister of religion)
- Tier 4 (Child)
- prospective student
- student (under the rules in place before 31 March 2009)
- student re-sitting an examination
- student nurse
- students writing up a thesis
- student union sabbatical officer
- work permit holder
- postgraduate doctor or dentist
- Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme
- International Graduates Scheme
- Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
If you are currently in the UK in any other immigration category, you must leave the UK and apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa from your country of residence.
Applying for a student visa if you are in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
The Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Herm, Sark, and Alderney) and the Isle of Man have their own immigration laws and policies. For immigration control, we consider that these islands are outside the UK.
If you are living in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and the island authorities have given you permission to enter or stay there (also known as 'entry clearance' or 'leave to remain'), you cannot apply directly from the island for permission to enter the UK.
To apply for permission to enter the UK, you have 2 options:
- you can return to the country where you are normally resident (your 'home country') and apply from there for a visa to enter the UK; or
- if your permission to come or stay on the island is still current, and your immigration category on the island is one that UK immigration law allows you to switch from, you can come directly to the UK. When you have arrived here, you can apply for permission to remain as a Tier 4 student - this is because we will be able to treat your current permission under the island laws as if it had been given by the UK authorities. You must make your application to switch before your current permission to stay on the island expires.To find out whether you can switch from your current immigration category, see 'Can I switch?' below.
Some foreign nationals must apply for a visa before they come to the UK from one of these islands. For more information, see section 2 of our Immigration directorate instructions, Chapter 1.
Can I apply for the Doctorate extension scheme for PhD students?
If you are a student completing a PhD at a UK higher education institute you can apply to stay in the UK for a further 12 months after your course completion date.
This applies to Tier 4 PhD students who start after April 2013 and to those already in the route, but who have not completed there studies by April 2013.
If you do want to apply for the Doctorate extension scheme you will need a new confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) from your Tier 4 sponsor. You must apply no more than 60 days before your course completion date on your CAS. If you are given permission to stay under the Doctorate extension scheme you will have full unrestricted work rights, except for some limited professions such as doctors or dentists in training or sportspersons (including coaches). You will be able to work without restrictions once your Tier 4 sponsor has confirmed that you have finished your PhD.
Your Tier 4 conditions apply while you are studying.
Policy guidance for Tier 4 students
- Tier 4 policy guidance PDF 674KB opens in a new window
Help text for Tier 4 applications
- Help text for Tier 4 (General) PDF 360KB opens in a new window
Do it online
An education provider that is approved by us and has been given a licence to bring both students to the United Kingdom under tier 4 of the points-based system. This can be as an adult (known as a general student) or child student categories, or both.