Adult students - Tier 4 (General)
Can you apply?
This section explains whether you can apply to enter or remain in the UK as an adult student under the Tier 4 (General) category of our points-based system.
Rule changes announced for studentsFrom 6 April 2013 changes are being made to the student route (Tier 4). This will mean that if you are a PhD student completing your course, you can apply to stay in the UK for a further 12 months, beyond the end of your course to find skilled work or to set up as an entrepreneur.
As a Tier 4 (General) student, you must have 40 points in our points assessment. You can score:
- 30 points for having a valid confirmation of acceptance for studies, which you get for studying a course at an acceptable level with an approved education provider (also known as a 'Tier 4 sponsor'), and for having acceptable English language skills; and
- 10 points for having enough money (also known as maintenance or funds) to cover your course fees and living costs.
You can find more information about these requirements on the following pages in this section:
- Your course of study
- Your education provider
- Your English language skills
- Confirmation of acceptance for studies
- Your money
There are other requirements that you may also need to meet. These are described under 'More information' below.
If you are already in the UK in a different immigration category, you may be able to 'switch' into Tier 4 (General) without leaving the UK. See 'More information' below.
You will need to enrol your fingerprints and facial photograph (known as 'biometric information') with us as part of your application. You can find more information on the Applying from inside the UK or Applying from outside the UK pages.
Additional requirement if you have official financial sponsorship
An 'official financial sponsor' is an organisation that wholly supports you to study in the UK by giving you money to cover your course fees and your living costs. The UK government, your home government, the British Council or any international organisation, international company, university or UK independent school can be an official financial sponsor.
You will need your official financial sponsor's permission to continue studying in the UK as a Tier 4 student if it is currently supporting you (or was supporting you w ithin the past 12 months) to study here as :
a Tier 4 (General) or Tier 4 (Child) student; or
a student under the Immigration Rules that were in force before 31 March 2009; or
a student nurse; or
a student re-sitting an examination; or
a student writing up a thesis; or
a postgraduate doctor or dentist.
You will need to provide us with your financial sponsor's unconditional permission in writing. The financial sponsor must confirm that it has no objection to you continuing your studies in the UK. If the financial sponsor does not give its consent, we will refuse your application.
Additional requirement if you are 16 or 17 years old
If you are 16 or 17 years old, you have the legal right to live independently in the UK, and you may make your own arrangements for accommodation. However, you will need the permission of your parent(s) or legal guardian if you want to:
live independently while you are in the UK; and
travel to the UK (if you are applying from overseas).
If you will be living independently, you must send us a letter from your parent(s) or legal guardian, confirming:
their relationship with you;
that they have given their permission for your application; and
that they have given their permission for you to live independently in the UK; and
that they have given their permision for your independent travel to the UK.
If the letter is signed by only 1 parent or legal guardian, it must confirm that they have legal custody or sole responsibility for you. If they do not have sole custody, the letter must confirm that each parent or legal guardian agrees to the contents of the letter, and must be signed by each parent or legal guardian.
Other requirements (general grounds for refusal)
Even if you meet the requirements described above, we may refuse your application for other reasons (such as your previous immigration history) . For more information about these 'general grounds for refusal', see Chapter 9 of our immigration directorate instructions.
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.
Policy guidance for Tier 4 students
- Tier 4 policy guidance PDF 703KB opens in a new window