Tier 4 General Student (Adult)

This document provides information if you are a student coming to the UK under Tier 4 General of the Points Based System, and should be read with paragraphs 245ZT to245ZZE of the Immigration Rules (these can be found on our Home Office pages at the GOV.UK website at:  www.gov.uk/government/collections/immigration-rules. It is correct at the time of publication but some sections may change, so you should always check that you have the right version by going to Home Office website.

This category is for students coming to the UK for post-16 education. A Tier 4 (General) student must be at least 16 years old.

You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:

  • have been offered a place on a course
  • can speak, read, write and understand English
  • have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
  • are from a country that’s not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland
  • meet the other eligibility requirements

You must meet the full requirements of the Immigration Rules and have 40 points in total as shown in the table below:

Points required: 40
You must have a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies from a fully licensed Tier 4 sponsor.
30 points
You must have enough money to cover course fees and monthly living costs (also known as maintenance or funds)
10 points


Tier 4 sponsors

To apply under Tier 4, you must have a Tier 4 sponsor. All Tier 4 sponsors who want to provide courses for international students need a licence from the Home Office. Once they get a licence, they are added to the Tier 4 Register of Sponsors. Academies and schools maintained by a local authority are not permitted to sponsor Tier 4 students.

The register of sponsors has the name, location and rating of the organisation. You should check whether your sponsor has a licence by looking at the Tier 4 Register of Sponsors on our Home Office pages at the Gov.UK website at: http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-licensed-sponsors-students

A student’s Tier 4 sponsor will assign the student a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number, which is an official and unconditional offer of a place on a course of study.

Acceptable Levels of Courses

If you are studying with a Tier 4 sponsor that has Tier 4 Sponsor status, you can obtain a CAS for a course that leads to an approved qualification for Home Office purposes and is:

  • Approved at level 3 or above on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) or Qualifications and Credits Framework (QCF) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; or
  • Accredited at level 6 or above in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) by the Scottish Qualifications Authority; or
  • A short-term study abroad programme in the UK as part of the Tier 4 (General) student’s qualification at an overseas higher education institution, as long as the qualification is confirmed as being at the same level as a UK degree by UK NARIC. Contact details for UK NARIC can be found on their website at: www.naric.org.uk/visasandnationality ; or
  • An English language course at level B2 or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
  • Sponsors with Tier 4 Sponsor status can offer courses which include work placements.

Your course

You can do a course that’s one of the following:

  • full-time leading to a qualification that’s at least level 6 on the Ofqual register
  • an overseas course of degree level study that’s equal to a UK higher education course and is being run by an overseas higher education institution
  • full-time, with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study, leading to a qualification which is at least level 3 on the Ofqual register
  • a recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist

Postgraduate doctors and dentists

You can apply for this visa if you’re sponsored to do a recognised foundation programme and you’ve:

  • finished a recognised UK degree in medicine or dentistry
  • received that degree from a registered Tier 4 sponsor
  • spent your final year and at least 1 other year of studies leading to that degree in the UK

Confirmation of acceptance for studies

Your education provider will send you a reference number called a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) once they’ve offered you a place on a course. You’ll need to enter this on your visa application.

You must apply for your visa no more than 6 months after you receive the CAS.

Further study in the UK

You can only get a CAS for a new course if you’ve studied in the UK before and you’re:

  • re-sitting exams or repeating modules
  • applying for the first time to a new institution to complete a course you started at an institution that’s lost its Tier 4 sponsorship
  • applying to complete a PhD or other doctorate that you started studying under your last Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • studying for a new qualification at a higher academic level
  • studying for a new qualification at the same level and related to your previous course or career aspirations – it must be degree level or above at a Higher Education Institution (HEI)
  • applying after working as a student union sabbatical officer to complete a qualification you started studying under your last Tier 4 (General) student visa

Knowledge of English

You must prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

This usually means passing a secure English language test (SELT).

Where you’re studying
What you’re studying
Knowledge of English needed
Higher education institution (HEI)
Degree level or above
Reading, writing, listening and speaking
Equivalent to CEFR 
(Common European Framework for languages) 
level B2
Institution that’s not HEI
Degree level or above
SELT in reading, writing, listening 
and speaking
CEFR level B2
Any institution
Below degree
SELT in reading, writing, listening 
and speaking
CEFR level B1

HEIs can choose how to assess a student’s knowledge of English. They must still be at:

  • CEFR level B2 if you’re studying at a degree level or higher
  • SELT in reading, writing, listening and speaking and CEFR level B1 if you’re not studying at a degree level

Academic Progression

The academic progression rule is in place to ensure that you are progressing academically if you wish to study a further course in the UK, and are not merely seeking to extend your stay in the UK. If you have previously had permission to stay as a Student or a Tier 4 (General) Student then your Tier 4 sponsor can only give you a CAS for a new course, if your new course represents academic progress from your previous studies.

English language courses

You can come to the UK to study an English language course. The minimum level of English language study, other than for those exceptions detailed above, is set at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) Level B2.

Money (also known as maintenance or funds)

You must show that you have enough money to cover your course fees and living costs.

Course fees

If you are starting a new course, you must show that you have enough money to pay for your course fees for the first year of your course or for the entire course, if it is less than a year long.

If you have already started your course and you are applying for further leave to continue that course, you must show that you have enough money to pay for your course fees to the end of the current academic year; or for the next academic year if you will continue on your course at the start of the next academic year.

living costs

You must have enough money to support yourself whilst studying in the UK. The money that you will need for living costs will depend on the length of your course and where you will study it.

You must show that you have:

  • £1,265 per month for living costs if you are studying in London for the majority of your study (more than 50% of your study time);
  • £1,015 per month for living costs if you are studying outside London or anywhere else in the UK for the majority of your study (more than 50% of your study time).

You can use money held in an account owned by you or by your parents or legal guardian. If you are a Tier 4 (General) student and using funds held by your parent(s)/legal guardian(s), you will need to show us evidence that you are related to your parent(s)/legal guardian(s) and that you have their permission to use this money.

Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs)

The Home Office has introduced BRPs for applicants applying for entry clearance to come to the UK for more than six months. You will apply for a BRP at the same time as you apply for entry clearance. If your entry clearance application is successful, you will be given a vignette valid for 30 days. This will allow you to enter the UK. You must then collect your BRP from the Post Office branch you selected as part of your application no later than 10 days after your arrival in the UK.

Immigration Health Surcharge

The immigration health surcharge is a financial contribution to the UK’s National Health Service. You will pay the surcharge if you are a non-EEA national and you are granted immigration permission to enter the UK to study for a time-limited period of more than six months. You will also need to pay it if you are a non- EEA national who is already in the UK and you wish to apply to extend your stay.

You will pay the charge (currently £150 for each period of 12 months leave granted) when you make your application.  Further information is available on the Home Office pages of the Gov.UK website: https://www.gov.uk/search?q=Immigration+health+surcharge


When you make your application, you may be asked to undertake an interview, either in person, or on the telephone to check that you are a genuine student. If as a result of this interview the Home Office is not satisfied that you are a genuine student, or you cannot speak English to the required standard (see the ‘English Language ability’ section of this guidance), or your application is shown to fall for refusal under the General Grounds for Refusal, the application will be refused.

If you are asked to undertake an interview but do not attend without reasonable explanation being given, your application will be refused.

Family members

Your family members (dependants) might be able to apply to join or remain with you in the UK.

A dependant is either:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner
  • your unmarried or same-sex partner
  • your child under 18 years old – including if they were born in the UK during your stay

You can apply to bring a dependant to the UK if you’re:

  • sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at level 7 on the Ofqual register or above that lasts 1 year or more
  • a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months
  • a Doctorate Extension Scheme student

They’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of their application.

What you can and can’t do

You can:

  • study
  • work as a student union sabbatical officer
  • apply from inside or outside the UK
  • apply to extend your stay
  • work in most jobs – depending on what level your course is and what kind of sponsor you have

You can’t:

  • get public funds
  • work in certain jobs, eg professional sportsperson or sports coach
  • study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school)