UK TIER 4 (GENERAL) STUDENT VISA 2022 | A Complete Guide

Do you want to know about the general student visa requirements for studying in the UK?

If your answer is yes, just understand that every year people all over the world seek to study abroad – away from their home country.

Since good education is necessary not only to get knowledge but also to apply it,

studying abroad opportunities are very popular among many who are interested

in education so much so that the most popular countries for international students according to include:

USA, UK, China, Canada, Australia, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, and Spain.

Others include The Netherlands, Poland, New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Chile.

The UK is increasingly becoming a popular education destination for international students

and thousands of aspiring students have chosen many of the top-quality UK universities.

The number of world-recognized universities, culturally diverse environment,

skilled academic staff and magnificent infrastructure make the UK a good academic destination.

According to the 2018/2019 statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency,

there are currently 485,645 international students pursuing their degrees in the UK.

The number has experienced an increase from the previous year’s statistics which encompassed 458, 520.

Do you have intentions of studying in the United Kingdom, especially as a non-UK citizen or as a citizen from a non-European Economic area?

Do you want to know about the general student visa requirements for studying in the UK?

This article will be of help to you as it will answer all your very important questions regarding student visa requirements for the United Kingdom.

The UK Tier Visa System: What Do We Know?

The UK Tier Visa system is a points-based visa category system. There are 70 points required by applicants for any of the visa tiers.

Of the 70 points required, you must score 50 mandatory points along with 20 tradeable or non-tradeable points broken into different points depending on the tier you are applying for.

The test takes into consideration such factors as age, fluency in the English language,

and other factors which are dependent on the specific tier under which you are applying. There are five different tiers:

  • Tier 1 is for High-Value Migrants;
  • The Tier 2 is for Skilled Workers;
  • Tier 3 is for Unskilled Workers;
  • Tier 4 is for Adult Students;
  • The Tier 5 is for Temporary Workers.

What is a UK Tier 4 Student Visa?

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A UK Tier 4 student visa is a type of student visa which allows international students from outside of the European Economic Area to enter the United Kingdom. This entry is usually for students who have been admitted to study either at a school, a college, or a university.

Are there any Other Types of UK Student Visas?

Besides the UK tier 4 (general) student visa, there is also the short-term study visa. The short-term study visa is for those who wish to do a short course in the UK for the duration of 6 months or for 11 months (if you are studying an English language course).

The short-term visa costs £93 for a 6-month visa and £179 for the 11-month visa option. While studying on a short-term visa, you cannot work, bring family members or extend the visa.

To qualify for a short-term study visa you must prove:

  • You are 16 years or older.
  • You have been accepted for an English language course in the UK that lasts 11 months or fewer and includes no other subjects.
  • Your course is at a recognized institution or place of study.
  • You have enough money to cover the costs of your study and the living expenses for the duration of your course without working or help from public funds.
  • You can pay for your return or onward journey

If you are under 18, you must also:

  • Have planned for your travel and stay in the UK.
  • Have the consent of your parent (s) or guardian (s) to study in the UK

The documents you will require to meet the requirements above include:

  • A current passport
  • Bank statements or payslips;
  • Details of your travel plans and where you intend to stay;
  • Medical test results may also be required depending on the country you are coming from.

Have the Rules for UK Student Visas Changed?

Yes. There have been changes by the UK government who announced in September 2020 that the UK tier (general) student visa was now to be referred to as the student visa routes and it will allow international students to get visas more easily and stay in the UK post-study.

The route opened on October 5, 2020, and replaced the previous Tier 4 visa route.

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The highlights of the ‘simplified’ visa rules are:

  • The Student Route and Child Student Route — for students aged 4-17 who want to study at an independent school in the UK — will open on 5 October for international students.
  • Students will require 70 points to be successful.
  • Students who were issued an offer for study under the Tier 4 system and apply before 5 October will be considered against the current rules for that route.
  • Those applying from 5 October will be considered against the new, simplified rules.
  • Also, Students will require an appropriate level of English to engage with their course, as they do under the current Tier 4 system. The level of English required will remain the same.
  • Students will also now be able to make a visa application up to 6 months before their course starts (up from 3 months under Tier 4), and they will not be required to resubmit proof of academic qualifications with their visa application.
  • More so, There will continue to be no limit on the number of international students who can come to the UK.
  • The Graduate Route for international students will open in summer 2021. This will allow eligible international students – including those from India – who have completed undergraduate and Master’s degrees to stay for two years and those who have completed a PhD to stay for three years to work or look for work.

Tier 4 Student Visa Requirements

A tier 4 student visa is mainly for students who are from outside of the European Economic Area and intend to study at a UK school.

The following requirements have to be met to apply for this type of visa:

  • You must be 16 years old or over
  • Secondly, You have an unconditional offer of study from a licensed university in the United Kingdom with a licensed student sponsor. A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) is what you need from your course provider which will also put you on the path to securing a UK visa;
  • Also, You can speak, read, write and understand English to a certain level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. You can also prove your knowledge of English by passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider or have a GCSE, A-Level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English gained through study at a UK school you began when you were under 18
  • You have sufficient money to pay for your course fees and also support yourself for the duration of your study in the UK. This will vary though depending on your circumstances. The amount you need to pay as a course fee will be stated on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You’ll need to show you have enough money to support yourself – unless you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months on the date of your application. How much money you need depends on where you will be studying.
  • You’ll need either;
  •  £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London;
  •  £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London.
  • When you’re applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, and you’ve been in the UK for less than 12 months, you need to prove you have £2,668 for courses in London or £2,046 for courses outside London.
  • If you’re boarding at a residential independent school, you’ll need to pay boarding fees instead. The amount you need to pay will be on your CAS.
  • You have signed consent from your parent (s) or guardian (s) if you are 16 or 17 – evidence of this is provided when you are applying

some supporting documentation

The above requirements are uppermost when applying for tier 4 visas, but you must also provide some supporting documentation which will include:

  • A current passport or other valid travel documentation.
  • Proof of available funds such as bank statements.
  • A tuberculosis test result or certificate.
  • Health surcharge reference number. The Immigration Health Surcharge comprises a fee levied on most UK visa applications. It usually costs £470 but you should confirm the sum you are to pay before making any payments.
  • Some students require ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) depending on matters concerning the course of study and or nationality.

Additional supporting documents

Additional supporting documents may be required depending on your circumstances and your country of origin.

These may include medical test results or other proofs of your funding. 

To prove your understanding of the English language, you will need to pass an English language test.
If you are under 18, you will need to provide contact details of a parent or guardian and their consent must bear details such as:

  • Your visa application
  • living and care arrangements in the UK.
  • Your travel to the UK.
  • A copy of your birth certificate (or another government-issued document) that shows the names of your parents.

What is the Cost of a Tier 4 Student Visa?

The cost of a tier 4 student visa depends on several factors from the place you are applying to want an extension or a switch to a student visa from inside the UK.

A breakdown of the cost of a tier 4 student visa is given below:

  • £348 is the cost of applying for a student visa from outside of the UK.
  • £475 is what you have to pay to extend or switch to a student visa from inside the UK.

What is the Validity Period of a Tier 4 Student Visa?

A tier 4 student visa can allow you to stay in the UK for several years and this depends on the length of your course and what study you have already completed.

This information is usually stated in your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

If you are 18 years or over and if your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 5 years. If you are studying below degree level in the UK, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 2 years.

The Home Office holds exclusive rights regarding the additional number of months granted at the end of your course. This is broken down below:

Course lengthAdditional months granted at end of course
12 months or longer4 months after course end date
6 months – 12 months2 months after course end date
Masters courses covered by the Tier 4 Pilot (if you applied for your student visa prior to 5 October 2020)6 months after course end date
Pre-sessional course1 month after course end date
Courses less than six months, e.g. medical elective7 days after course end date
Details from:

How long does it take to Process a Tier 4 Student Visa?

If you are making your application from your home country you apply for your visa as soon as possible, but you cannot apply over 3 months before the course start date as stated on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

If you are eligible to apply from the UK, you should normally apply within the last 3 months of your visa validity. You must submit your new Tier 4 visa application before you register at the University, even if you have time left on your current visa.

Standard processing times for UK visa applications are approximately 8 weeks, although there are options for a premium same day service and a 10 day priority service. Visa processing times may vary so you should check the Home Office website for the latest times. Most countries have a minimum 15 working day processing time although some offer a fast track service (at an additional cost).

Please note that during the summer months (June, July, and August), processing times may be longer because of the volume of applications received by the Home Office which is why you are advised against leaving it to the last minute to apply for your visa.


For you to get a UK tier 4 (general) student visa, you have to meet up with the requirements and all things related to costs, validity and processing times. A good education abroad comes with its own complexities but following the rules and applying early will give you an opportunity to study at the UK institution of your dreams.


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