Extending your Tier 4 visa in the UK
International @CampusLife can support Tier 4 visa applications made in the UK
Information on making a Student visa application in the UK
The International@CampusLife (ICL) team includes several trained student immigration specialists who can assist you in the submission of your Student visa application. The University expects all students who are making an application in the UK to use this service as it is reduces the risk of your visa being refused. The service is completely free but you have a responsibility to ensure you are preparing your application in a timely manner and follow all instructions and advice given to you.
Please note that ICL can, in most cases, also help your family members who are applying with you as dependants but at peak times, priority may be given to student cases.
When should I make my visa application?
For continuing students, you would normally make your visa extension application no more than 3 months before the expiry of your current visa. You may also need to wait for end of year results before you can access a CAS. In these cases a CAS needs to be requested from the International Student Compliance team.
For students who need extra time to start a new course, you would normally submit your application after you have the results from your previous course and your CAS would come from the Admissions team. You cannot make your visa application more than 3 months before the start of the course.
However, you can start preparing for your application at any time. You do not need to wait for a CAS statement before you start preparing and this is especially important if you are making your application close to your visa end date.
Dependant on your individual situation it may take you 28 days or more to get the financial documents you need to make a valid application, so the earlier you work out what you need and start gathering this the better.
All students MUST make their visa application before their current visa expires. Failure to do so means you will become an overstayer. If you are an overstayer you must CEASE ALL WORK and contact a member of the ICL team immediately for help and advice.
All applicants will need to be able to provide the following documents in support of their Student visa application. Some applicants will be asked to provide these upfront as part of their initial application and some will just need to have them in case requested by the UKVI. This is called differentiation for applicants (sometime referred to as 'low risk' applications).
In a change to the old Tier 4 system, under the new Student Route visa, students who are on the list in this UKVI Appendix (ST 22.1) will not need to submit their financial documents as standard . However, we advise to students to always make sure they have them in hand in case requested. Being under differentation does not mean you are exempt from the requirements- only from submitting the documents up front.
What is the application process?
In order for us to help all students as quickly and fully as possible, please follow the steps that are set out for you below.
- Prepare your finances. The leaflet Finance IHS Visa fees information sheet will help you work out exactly how much money you need to prepare and how you can demonstrate this if necessary.
Note: If you have been in the UK as a student for 12 months you should not need to show all fees and living costs upfront. This is explained in the leaflet linked to above.
- Apply for a new CAS statement. This will be either from the International Admissions team (for new courses) or MyUniHub (continuing students).
- Apply for an ATAS certificate. Not all students will need to do this and ATAS is fully explained on the ATAS tab below. Be aware that ATAS can take a month or more to be received after application.
- Start the UKVI online application form and STOP once you get to the Immigration Health Surcharge payment page. You can choose an option to complete your form later and a link will be sent to you that allows you back into the form. Most of the form is straightforward. If you have the odd question, you can ask it during your ICL visa submission meeting and your Adviser will also check your answers. Please note: if you have not completed the main bulk Student Visa form prior to approaching the ICL team for submission, you will be asked to do so first.
- Prepare your documents. The Guide to documents for Student Visa will help you to ensure that any documents you prepare meet UKVI requirements. A list of documents is given below.
- Current visa or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP/Visa card) if you have one
- CAS statement
- Evidence of financial capability (e.g. bank statements or Financial Sponsor Letter) if necessary
- Evidence of any academic qualifications as listed on your CAS, if neccessary
- ATAS certificate if you have one
- Police Registration Certificate if you have one
- Debit or credit card to pay for the visa fee and Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
If you are using your parents' bank statements to demonstrate financial capability you will also need:
- Letter from parents confirming they will be sponsoring you
- Birth certificate or other relevant evidence confirming your relationship with your parents
- Submit your application alongside an ICL adviser and pay visa fee/IHS. Once you have completed all your preparations, please let the ICL team know that you believe you are ready to go. They will then arrange a Zoom meeting (or alternative convenient method). For that meeting, you will need all your documents, the UKVI link to your online Tier 4 form and a credit or debit card to pay for the visa fee and IHS (as outlined in Finance IHS Visa fees information sheet ).
An Adviser will check the form and documents with you and, if possible will try and submit your application straight away. If they cannot, they will arrange another time for completion. You will pay the fees online only when your application is complete and ready to go.
Once your application has been completed, and before it is counted as submitted, you must book a biometric appointment- which entails having your fingerprints and photograph taken.
There may be an additional charge for this depending on the centre you choose to go to and the type of service you choose (e.g. Standard or Premium) which you pay at the point of application. The nearest centre to us are in Cardiff and Newport. You will be given further information about biometric appointments from ICL when you submit your application.
Some students may be sent an invitation to submit their biometrics via a new UKVI app. If you get this email, you do not need to tell the International@Campuslife team- you should just follow the instructions in the email and go ahead and download the app and follow the instructions on there. You can only use the app if you are invited to do and if you do not receive an email invitation, you will need to attend a biometrics appointment in person.
There is a great step by step video guide to the UKVI app that has been produced by Sopra Steria and which you can access on the Migrate.org website.
You must attend you Biometrics appointment, or submit your biometrics via the app, to complete the visa application process or your application will become invalid. It is important to note that once you have given your biometrics, you will not be able to go back in to add or change any documents to your visa application. If you are waiting for a docuemnts (e.g. ATAS) and it hasn't arrived yet, do not give your biometrics until it has. This is very important.
How long until my visa comes back?
A standard visa application takes around 6-12 weeks to be returned. However, as of December 2020, there are significant delays to BRP receipt from the UKVI and some students (across the UK) have been waiting several months beyond the published 12 weeks for their card. We have raised this issue with UKVI and sector lobbying bodies but there is really nothing we can do to make the process go any faster. Regrettably, all the control sits with the UK Government and not the University. We understand this is frustrating but please try and remember that the ICL team are not responsible for the delay and that we very much wish it was quicker as well.
You must not buy any travel tickets when waiting for a decision as it is impossible to control an application and we cannot chase the UKVI to make it go quicker.
If you urgently need a quicker application then it is, sometimes, possible to make a faster application via the Priority Postal or Premium (in person) services. These are significantly more expensive and it is important to realise that all of these services incur a wait of a few weeks for the production of a Biometric Residence Permit (visa card). With the Premium Service you will get a decision on the day of your appointment but you will still need to wait for your card. If you would like further information about these services please ask your Adviser during the visa submission process or email the ICL team.
(Currently. these quicker routes are suspended due to COVID but your an Adviser can double check for you).
Once your visa has been approved, your BRP (visa card) will be sent to Student Compliance Services. They will contact you direct once it arrives and arrange a collection slot with you. As of July 2021, there are significant delays to BRP receipt from the UKVI and some students have been waiting several months for their card. We have rasied this issue with UKVI and sector lobbying bodies but there is nothing we can do to make the process go any faster.
Please resist the temptation to chase us for news regarding your visa. At times we have over 300 visa applications in process and the volume of queries is prohibitive to the team. As soon as we have news we will let you know and we appreciate your patience!
There is a mistake on my new visa!
ICL and Student Compliance Services try to check all visas to make sure they are correct but you also need to do this- especially if the visa has been returned directly to you. If there is anything at all that is incorrect please let us know. We may be able to get this rectified for you for free. Please see the Incorrect, lost or stolen documents page for the process you will need to follow to get help. Do not leave mistakes unchecked or changed as it could affect future visa applications.
ATAS is the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) run Academic Technology Approval Scheme. It requires postgraduate students, who are studying certain courses in the fields of science, engineering or technology, to gain a certificate of approval to study before they can be granted a visa to study, or continue studying, in the UK.
This is a requirement for all types of visa holders: Student; Work Permits, Tiers 1 or 2; Short Term Study or Dependants. If your chosen course requires ATAS, you will not be able to be granted a visa or enrol on your course unless you have applied for and received the ATAS Certificate.
If you are applying under a relevant immigration route student, your offer letter/CAS statement from the University should say whether you require an ATAS certificate or not. Please check this. If it is not stated on your offer letter/CAS statement then you will not need one.
If you are a Doctoral or Masters by Research student and you have received a Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) code (the code will be a mix of letters and digits), you can check this code on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Find out if I need an ATAS Certificate web page.
- How can I get my ATAS certificate?
You will need to make your ATAS application online via the FCO website, the application is free and the website has comprehensive guidance on making the application which you should follow carefully.
You will need to have your offer letter and/or CAS statement to hand and these should have the CAH code of the course you have been accepted on. You will also need the following information to fill in the form:
- your full name and contact details
- passport details
- name and nationality of your spouse/partner (if applicable)
- full details of any previous and current employment (if applicable)
- the programme of study you are applying to follow in the UK (including CAH code)
- for a PhD or Masters by research: your full research proposal and not just the title
- for a taught Masters: details of the optional modules you anticipate taking
- full details of published papers (if applicable)
- previous ATAS applications (if applicable)
- names and contact details of two referees. You must have known both of your referees for at least three years. At least one of these must be an academic from your country of origin
- details of how you will be funding your studies
You will not be asked to submit or attach any documentation to support your ATAS application.
- How long will it take to get my ATAS certificate?
The standard processing time for ATAS applications is 20 working days. You will be sent an initial email acknowledging your application and a further email, within 20 working days, with the result of your application, including an ATAS certificate, if approved.
We are being notified of current delays from students, so please be aware of this and apply for your ATAS early in your visa preparations.
If you have not heard anything within 20 working days please check your inbox is not full (and therefore rejecting their message) and please also check your ‘Spam’ folder to make sure that their message has not been filtered out.
You can contact the ATAS Team if you are concerned you have missed their response but they will not respond if 20 working days have not elapsed since your time of application.
Please note that we are aware that (as of October 2020) there are some delays with ATAS and the FCO team apprecaite your patience as they work through their caseload.
- How can I make sure that my ATAS application is not subject to delays?
The main reasons why ATAS applications are delayed are:
- Applicants using initials instead of full names
- Not including a reference from their home country
- Incorrect or missing passport details
- Wrong or missing CAH codes
- Wrong or missing research statements
Make sure that you include all of this required information when you apply!
- What happens if I change my start date?
If your course start date is more than 6 months after the ATAS has been issued, or if your course end date has changed by more than 3 months you will need to make a new ATAS application. Failure to make a new application could lead to problems with any immigration applications you make, and could mean the University is unable to enrol you onto your course.
- What if I make a change to my course?
An 'ATAS certificate is issued for a specific course with a named Student sponsor (i.e. Swansea University) and remains valid as long as the Student sponsor and/or course details do not change, including the length of the course’. This means that you must apply for a new ATAS certificate if you:
- change your course;
- change your institution; or
- apply to extend your leave in order to complete your course.
- What do I do when I have my ATAS certificate?
Once you have obtained your ATAS certificate you should either forward a copy of your ATAS to the International Admissions team (for new courses) or take/email a printed copy to MyUniHub (continuing students). You will then be able to access a CAS or Visa Letter to complete your immigration application. Make sure you include a copy in your visa application and bring a printed copy to enrolment.
Possession of an ATAS certificate does not guarantee your visa application will be successful, but your application will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate but do not provide one.
- What happens if my ATAS application is unsuccessful?
If your ATAS application is unsuccessful, please email the international @campuslife team for advice.