How to apply for a visa from outside the UK

Four students crossing a bridge near the library in the sunshine.

If you renew your visa outside the UK, you need to follow the same procedure as students applying for a visa for the first time.

You cannot apply for a visa more than three months before your course start date. 

You'll need your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement from the University. You can request your CAS via e:Vision when your offer becomes unconditional.

All visa applicants are required to provide biometric data and some applicants will also need to undergo health (tuberculosis) screening.

Apply

Documents you will need

It is your responsibility to collect the documents you need for your visa application. Your application form will confirm which documents you need to submit from the following:

  1. Passport - Your current passport and any previous passports that you have that contain a UK visa.
  2. Financial documents - Documents which prove you have the required funds available to you (unless you are a 'low risk' applicant or are applying for a taught masters programme, which is now being considered under the UKVI Tier 4 pilot project).
    • If you are a new student you will need to show that you have a minimum of £1,015 per month to cover the first 9 months of your course (£9,135) plus any outstanding tuition fees for the first year of your course.
    • If you are to be accompanied by a dependant(s) (e.g. spouse and /or children) you will, in addition, need to show you have £6,120 available per dependant.  Please ensure you read the section on Dependants, to ensure that your dependant(s) is/are allowed to join you in York whilst you study.
    • The funds detailed above need to be evidenced in a bank account for a minimum of 28 days and your bank statement must be no more than one calendar month old (using the date of the closing balance) on the date you make your visa application.
    • Bank statements, bank letters and savings books (for an account in your name) are all considered acceptable financial documents. Please note that electronic bank statements should be stamped by the bank on each page, and must include the account number, date and bank logo. 
    • If you are being officially financially sponsored you will need a letter from your sponsor confirming the sponsorship arrangements, including how much money you have been awarded, what the money is intended to be used for and the dates the sponsorship is valid for.
    • If you are relying on money held in a parent/ legal guardian's bank account you will need:
      • Your original birth certificate/ certificate of adoption/ court statement (showing the name of the parent/ legal guardian(s) providing the funds), and
      • Your parent/ legal guardian's bank statement, and
      • An original signed and dated letter from your parent/ legal guardian confirming their relationship with you and that they give consent to making their funds available to you
    • If you are using overseas currency, the Home Office will expect you to show the closing balance in pounds sterling using the official exchange rate on the OANDA website. Please write directly on your bank statement the amount in GBP sterling of the closing balance, the date of the conversion and confirmation that you used Oanda.com.
  3. Qualifications Evidence of previous qualifications mentioned in the 'Evidence' section of your CAS. If you are a 'low risk' applicant or you are applying for a taught masters programme or your CAS states that you are being sponsored on the basis of 'progression on programme to date’ you do not need to provide qualification evidence.
  4. Police Registration Certificate (if applicable)
  5. ATAS Certificate (if applicable). (See below)
  6. Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (if applicable).  You will have a BRP if you applied for your current Tier 4 visa in the UK.
  7. Birth and/ or marriage certificate - To supply if dependants are applying.
  8. A medical certificate (if applicable) (please see the information on Health (tuberculosis) screeningon the Home Office website).

All documents submitted which are not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a full translation that can be checked by UK Visas and Immigration. The translation must contain:

  • confirmation that it is an accurate translation of the original document
  • the date of the translation
  • the translator's full name, contact details and signature
  • the translator's qualification or credentials

'Low risk' applicants

A Tier 4 student qualifies for the differentiation arrangements if he/she is a national of one of the countries the Home Office classifies as 'Low risk' .

If you are a national of one of the countries the Home Office classifies as 'low risk', there is no requirement to provide evidence of finances or qualifications with your Tier 4 application. However, you will need to provide an ATAS certificate (if appropriate) and sign your application form to confirm you have sufficient funds and that you hold documentary evidence of any qualifications listed.  The Home Office reserves the right to ask you to provide these documents at a later date. Failure to provide the evidence if requested by the Home Office will result in your application being refused.

ATAS Certificates

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) was introduced in order to ensure that people who are applying to study certain sensitive subjects in the UK do not have links to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Non-EEA students studying on certain science, engineering and technology degrees will have to apply for an ATAS clearance certificate before obtaining a new visa.  Your CAS will confirm whether or not an ATAS certificate is needed.

To check whether you need an ATAS certificate, and for more details about the ATAS scheme, please see Gov.uk.

Failure to provide a valid ATAS clearance certificate (if your course requires one) when you submit your Tier 4 online application form will result in your application being refused.

To apply for an ATAS certificate you first need to use the text provided in your unconditional offer letter.

You should then go to Gov.uk and, using your text, complete the online application form. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will process the application and email a certificate to you, which you should print out and submit with your other documents. The FCO gets very busy at certain times of the year and so you are stongly advised to apply at least eight weeks before you intend to renew your student visa.

Immigration Health Surcharge

Visas for more than six months include an Immigration Health Surcharge. Paying this will mean that you are entitled to receive certain free health services from the National Health Service (NHS) while you are in the UK, but please note that this is not private medical insurance.

Use the Immigration Health Surcharge tool to check how much you will have to pay.

The Tier 4 application form will direct you to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) portal where you can pay the required charge.  

Note: some people are exempt from paying the immigration health surcharge, including Australian and New Zealand nationals and British Overseas Territory citizens who live in the Falkland Islands.  However, these applicants must still complete the IHS portal and obtain a reference number.

Consent if you're under 18 years old

If you submit an application as a Tier 4 (General) student when you are 16 or 17 years old, you must include a letter from a parent or legal guardian. This is to show that they support your application.

The letter of consent must confirm all of the following:

  • Their relationship to you
  • Their consent to your application as a Tier 4 (General) student
  • Their consent to your living arrangements in the UK
  • Their consent to your independant travel to the UK

If one parent or legal guardian has legal custody or sole responsibility for you, the letter must confirm this and be signed by that parent or legal guardian. If not, then both parents or legal guardians must give their consent and the letter must be signed by both parents or legal guardians.

If your application is successful, a temporary visa sticker will be placed in your passport giving you one month in which to travel into the UK. The permanent BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) visa card is collected from a designated post office in the UK. Most students select the post office in WHSmiths on Coney Street in York city centre to collect their BRP. The BRP will include information on restrictions  for working during your studies. You should also check the UKVI letter confirming your successful visa application for details of your visa conditions, such as police registration. This letter is sent by email and is an important document which you should keep. Your visa will allow you to enter and leave the UK for the duration of its validity.