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GENERAL STUDENT VISAS UNDER TIER 4 OF THE POINTS BASED SYSTEM
What is the points-based system?
This is the new system for managing entry to the UK for the purposes of work, study and training. From 31 March 2009, you need to pass a points-based assessment under Tier 4 for students. This makes the visa application process simpler and easier to understand.
What changes does Tier 4 introduce?
- There are two categories in the new Tier:
- General Student – for post-16 years education and
- Child Student – for children between 4 and 17 years to study in an independent school.
- Applicants must pass a points-based assessment, score 40 points and meet the immigration rules in order to qualify for entry to study in the UK.
- All education providers in the UK must register with the UK Border Agency and be a licensed sponsor before they can recruit international students.
How to accumulate the necessary points to qualify for a student visa?
You need to score 40 points for the following:
30 points for a Visa Letter issued by a licensed sponsor +
10 points for showing you have enough money to cover your course fees and living costs (known as maintenance). What is a Visa Letter?
You need an unconditional offer from your education provider. The Visa Letter shows that your education provider is confident that you are capable of doing the course of study for which you have applied, will act as your “immigration sponsor” and accepts responsibility for you while you are in the UK. It includes information about you, the course, and the documents you submitted that led to the offer of a place.
You can have a number of Visa Letters from institutions to which you have applied. But you can use only one to apply for a visa. The Visa Letter does not guarantee that you will be issued with a visa. If you are issued with a General Student visa, it will be valid for study at a particular institution.
What is a licensed sponsor?
You must study with an education provider that is registered with the UK Border Agency as being permitted to recruit international students.
What are the maintenance requirements?
You need to have sufficient funds to cover your course fees and your living costs during your studies. The maintenance you need to show depends on where you want to study and the duration of the course.
|Length of course||Where you will study||Maintenance funds|
|9 months or less||London-based||Course fees + ?800 for each month of the course|
|9 months or less||Outside London||Course fees + ?600 for each month of the course|
|More than 9 months||London-based||First year fees + ?7200 for the first 9 months|
|More than 9 months||Outside London||First year fees + ?5400 for the first 9 months|
You will need to provide evidence of additional funds to support any dependents coming with you.,
Evidence must be dated no more than one month before the date of application and you must have held the money for at least 28 days.
You can prove you have the money if you have:
- cash in an account in your name (or in a joint account with you as one of the named holders)
- a loan in your name
- official financial or government sponsorship
- Shares, bonds, pension funds and similar savings accounts will not be accepted.
What can I study?
You must study full time on one of the following:
- A full-time UK degree level course or above, at a higher education institution
- An overseas higher education course which is recognised as equivalent to a UK higher education qualification
- A course of study below UK degree level but at a minimum of NFQ level 3 or equivalent or a course of English language study at Common European Framework of Reference for languages level A2 (such courses must involve a minimum of 15 hours per week organised day time study).
What are the requirements if I want to study English language?
To qualify for a General Student visa, you must demonstrate that you have already started to learn English. English language courses must be set at a minimum level of A2.
For how long will my visa be valid?
Your visa will be valid for the duration of your course if degree level or above (and a maximum of 3 years if the course is below degree level), plus a short period of between one week and four months at the end of your studies (depending on the level and duration of the course).
When I apply for my visa, what documents do I need to provide?
You will need to complete the visa application, pay your fee and provide:
- Current passport
- Visa Letter from a licensed sponsor (dated no more than 6 months before the visa application is made)
- Proof of maintenance funds – please see guidance for specified documents to be provided
- Documents assessed by your sponsor when you were accepted onto the course and specified in the Visa Letter.
- Your biometric details (finger scans and digital photograph, taken at the visa application centre)
- Original specified documents.
Current Visa fee for a student under Tier 4 is 11600.
Please ensure you provide all supporting documentation with your application. If you do not provide all the mandatory information, your application will be refused. No further evidence can be accepted after a decision has been made on your application. If your documents are not in English, a certified translation must be provided.