Apply for a visa

To study at the University of Surrey, international students require a Tier 4 (General) student visa.

Applying for a Tier 4 visa outside the UK

Tier 4 (General) is the student tier of the Points Based System for immigration (PBS), operated by the Home Office.

It costs £348 to apply for a Tier 4 visa from outside the UK. You will also pay £348 for each dependent applying with you

To apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa you must: 

For more details and to apply, visit the government visas and immigration website

If you require a visa under Tier 4 (General) student visa (i.e you are over 16 years of age), you must pass a points-based assessment and score 40 points when making a visa application:

  • 30 points for a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from the University of Surrey
  • 10 points for documents showing the required finances (tuition fees and living costs)

It costs £348 to apply for a Tier 4 visa from outside the UK

  • Submit your online application form
  • Book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre
  • Attend your appointment
  • Submit your documents
  • Give your fingerprints and photograph
  • Competency/credibility interview (at the discretion of UKVI)

Application times can vary according to where you live and the time of year, so make sure that you apply as early as possible to avoid any delays. You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa up to three months before the start of your course, but no earlier.

Once your visa has been approved, you can arrive in the UK before your course starts: 

  • Up to one week before, if your course lasts six months or less
  • Up to one month before, if your course lasts more than six months
  • No later than the latest registration date as per your CAS.

There are required documents you will need at the point of making your application:

These include:

  • An application fee – in local currency (non-refundable)
  • Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee - IHS will be charged at £300 per academic year of study, please visit this link for further details: UKVI website
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number from the University of Surrey
  • Current passport or travel document – details of your current passport must be included on the CAS. If these details have changed in any way since your CAS was issued you will need to send a scanned copy of your new passport to cas@surrey.ac.uk
  • Documents to show you have the correct finances (fees and maintenance)
  • Colour passport photograph (no older than 1 month old)
  • Original academic documents listed on your CAS

You may also require:

Please note that all the documents must be original as photocopies or scanned documents are not acceptable.

If you are a national from a low-risk country and applying for your visa from that country, you do not have to provide certain documents with your application (e.g.bank statements or academic certificates). You will need to keep these documents to hand in case the UKVI request to see them at any time during the visa application process. If you are a low-risk national but applying for a Tier 4 (General) student visa through an Embassy/High Commission in another country, you will need to provide all the required documents. For example a US citizen applying in the United States of America would be considered ‘low risk’ but a US citizen applying in Malaysia would not be considered to be ‘low risk’ and would therefore have to submit all required documents.

All students are expected to show that they have paid or have evidence of money to pay the first year’s tuition fees or next period of study (for extending students).  

Students also need to show that they have enough money (maintenance) to cover living costs whilst in the UK. As the University of Surrey is situated outside London, the monthly maintenance requirement is £1,015 (you would need to show maintenance for up to nine months, giving a total of £9,135).

If you require a visa extension for a period of less than nine months, please contact International Student Support by emailing internationalsupport@surrey.ac.uk

Students must sign a declaration on the visa application form that states that the money shown at the time of the visa application is available to them for living and studying in the UK and should not be used for anything else.

Documents required

You must provide one of the accepted types of financial document as stated in the Tier 4 guidance.

If you use bank statements from an account in your name, you must provide a statement which covers a period of at least 28 consecutive days. The full amount of money required must have been in the bank for at least 28 days and the bank statement you use must be no older than one month. The Immigration Rules now require that the end of the 28-day period for which funds must be held will be taken as the date of the closing balance, not the date that the statement is produced. The date of the closing balance must be no more than one month before the date of your visa application.

The account can be a joint account as long as your name appears as one of the account holders on the statement. You cannot show money in the account of other relatives, including your spouse, or friends.

If you show money in your parents’ bank account then you will need to show:

  • A bank statement in their name(s)
  • An original signed and dated letter from your parents showing that they will support you during your studies
  • Your original full birth certificate (or notarised copy) naming yourself and your parents (or certificate of adoption or legal document confirming a legal guardian).

If you are not sure which type of document to show please let us know. All documents should be in English or translated.

You will need to make sure that your or your parents’ bank is a financial institution whose statements are accepted by UKVI.

Sponsored students

If you are fully funded by an official financial sponsor (British Government, government in your home country or international scholarship agency) you will require an original letter from your official financial sponsor confirming the duration of your sponsorship, that they will cover your full tuition fees and how much they will be paying to cover your living costs. Please make sure the sponsor letter meets the University guidelines.

If the official sponsor is covering all your tuition fees and maintenance, you do not need to submit your own bank statements. If the sponsorship letter does not cover all your or your dependent’s financial requirements, you will need submit bank statements to cover any shortfall.

Translations

Bank statements must be provided in English. Check with your bank whether they can provide bank statements in English if you are using statements from your home country. If your bank does not provide translated statements then you will need to have them translated by an official translator. The translation must include details of the translator’s credentials, contact details, date and signature.

This applies also to academic transcripts and degree certificates.

If the currency shown on the bank statements are not in Pounds Sterling, you will to use the following currency conversion website. Check the amount on the day you submit your visa application and attach a note to the bank statement that shows the amount in Pounds Sterling. Please remember that currency conversion rates can rise and fall dramatically, so try to ensure that you have a slightly higher amount than required.

The Home Office interviews most Tier 4 student applicants before granting them immigration permission to come to the UK. Therefore you might be sent an email asking you to attend an interview as part of the application process. You should check your email (including the 'junk' folder) regularly as your application is likely to be refused if you are asked to attend an interview and you do not do so without providing a reasonable explanation. During your interview a member of Home Office staff will ask you about your course, where you want to study and your reasons for studying in the UK. The report of the interview will be sent to the caseworker who makes the decision on your Tier 4 application. They must be satisfied that you are a genuine student, and that your English language ability is at the correct level, otherwise you might be called for a further interview and/or your application may be refused.

When your leave is granted, you will be issued a temporary visa (vignette) in your passport. This will be valid for 30 days from the date you said you will be arriving in the UK, even if you later change your travel plans.  If, for some reason, you are unable to travel within the 30-day period, you will need to apply for another 30-day visa.  Once in the UK, you will need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which will show the visa for your complete study period as determined by your Confirmation of Acceptance for Study (CAS).

You will also receive a decision letter which will tell you when your BRP will be available to collect and where you can collect it from once you arrive in the UK (please make sure you bring this document with you to the UK).  All University of Surrey students will be able to collect their BRP card from the main  Post Office in Guildford. Full information including a map and opening times can be found on the Royal Mail website.

You must visit the Post Office within 10 days of your arrival in the UK and you must take with you your passport, 30-day visa and your decision letter. If you are under 18, you will need to be accompanied to the Post Office by a member of University staff.  You should aim to collect your BRP card before you register at the University where possible.

If you lose your passport or decision letter on arrival in the UK, you can find information on what to do next on the UKVI website.

Applying for a Tier 4 visa inside the UK

Tier 4 applications must be made online, using the Tier 4 (General) Student visa application form available on the GOV.uk site. There are two types of applications:

  • extend your existing Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • switch to this visa from another visa

Once you have completed the online application form, paid the application fee of £494 per person and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £300 per year of study then you will be asked to book an appointment to provide any supporting documents as well as your biometric details (your fingers, digital signature and a photograph will be taken). You must attend this appointment no more than 45 working days after paying the application fee.

If you are applying for a visa for a new course at Surrey, you cannot apply in the UK if the new course starts more than 28 days after the expiry date of your current Tier 4 visa. In this case, you will need to leave the UK in time and apply for a new visa in your home country. This also applies if you wish to return home for a holiday before starting your new course and decide to apply for the new visa from home.
 

You will need to prepare the following documents:

  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number from the University of Surrey
  • Current passport or travel document (and any expired passports you have used to travel to the UK with)
  • Documents to show you have the correct finances (fees and maintenance)
  • Original academic document as stated on the CAS (if you are unsure please contact International Student Support)  

You may also require:

The International Student Support team can only send complete, valid applications so please make sure you give yourself enough time to collect all the original documents, particularly if you need something to be sent from your home country or to obtain an official translation of your documents into English.

You must mention to the International Student Support team if you have ever:

  • Had a UK visa application refused (please provide as much detail as possible - refusal date, reason, and reference number; these can be found on your refusal notice)
  • Have overstayed on a UK visa
  • Have any other circumstance that you believe may affect the outcome of your visa application (e.g. criminal record/offences)

If you are a national from a low-risk country you do not have to provide certain documents with your application (e.g. bank statements or academic certificates). You will need to keep these documents to hand in case the UKVI request to see them at any time during the visa application process.

The International Student Support team strongly recommends that all applications are checked by one of its advisors before being submitted to the Home Office. Please contact us on the details below if you wish to make an appointment

Please note, the standard processing time for applications is 8 weeks and on some occasions this process can take longer. While your application is being processed, you will be able to retain your passport and other documentation. However, you must not leave the UK until you receive your new BRP card. If you leave the UK before you have received your BRP card your application will automatically be cancelled and you will not be able to return to the UK to continue your studies. If you have any travel plans close to your time that you need to make a visa application we suggest that you contact an International Student Support advisor

How much money you need to show will depend on individual circumstances.

All students are expected to show that they have paid or have evidence of money to pay the first year’s tuition fees or next period of study (for extending students).

Students also need to show that they have enough money (maintenance) to cover living costs whilst in the UK. As the University of Surrey is situated outside London, the monthly maintenance requirement is £1,015 (you would need to show maintenance for up to 9 months, giving a total of £9,135).

If you require a visa extension for a period of less than 9 months, please contact International Student Support by emailing internationalsupport@surrey.ac.uk

Students must sign a declaration on the visa application form that states that the money shown at the time of the visa application is available to them for living and studying in the UK and should not be used for anything else.

Documents required

You must provide one of the accepted types of financial document as stated in the Tier 4 guidance.

If you use bank statements from an account in your name, you must provide a statement which covers a period of at least 28 consecutive days. The full amount of money required must have been in the bank for at least 28 days and the bank statement you use must be no older than one month. The Immigration Rules now require that the end of the 28-day period for which funds must be held will be taken as the date of the closing balance, not the date that the statement is produced.  The date of the closing balance must be no more than one month before the date of your visa application.

The account can be a joint account as long as your name appears as one of the account holders on the statement. You cannot show money in the account of other relatives, including your spouse, or friends.

If you show money in your parents’ bank account then you will need to show:

  • a bank statement in their name(s)
  • an original signed and dated letter from your parents showing that they will support you during your studies
  • your original full birth certificate (or notarised copy) naming yourself and your parents (or certificate of adoption or legal document confirming a legal guardian).

If you are not sure which type of document to show please let us know. All documents should be in English or translated.

You will need to make sure that your or your parents’ bank is a financial institution whose statements are accepted by UKVI.

Sponsored students

If you are fully funded by an official financial sponsor (British Government, government in your home country or international scholarship agency) you will require an original letter from your official financial sponsor confirming the duration of your sponsorship, that they will cover your full tuition fees and how much they will be paying to cover your living costs. Please make sure the sponsor letter meets the University guidelines.

If the official sponsor is covering all your tuition fees and maintenance, you do not need to submit your own bank statements.  If the sponsorship letter does not cover all your or your dependent’s financial requirements, you will need submit bank statements to cover any shortfall.

Translations

Bank statements must be provided in English. Check with your bank whether they can provide bank statements in English if you are using statements from your home country. If your bank does not provide translated statements then you will need to have them translated by an official translator. The translation must include details of the translator’s credentials, contact details, date and signature.

This applies also to academic transcripts and degree certificates.

If the currency shown on the bank statements are not in pound sterling, you will to use the following currency conversion website. Check the amount on the day of submission of the application and attach a note to the bank statement. Please remember that currency conversion rates can rise and fall dramatically, so try to ensure that you have a slightly higher amount than required, just in case.

You may be asked to attend a credibility interview as part of the application process. Interviews are normally carried out by a secure telecommunications system (similar to Skype), although some are face-to-face interviews at Home Office centres across the UK.  The invitation letter will explain where your interview is, and will offer an opportunity to change to a different centre if it is closer to your home.

During a credibility interview a Home Office member of staff will assess whether you meet the English language requirements, and also if you are a 'genuine student.'  If you are asked to attend such an interview you must do so (unless you have a good reason as to why you cannot), otherwise your application is likely to be refused.

Applying for a Tier 4 dependent visa

You can bring your family (spouse and children) to the UK whilst you study if:

  • You are studying a course at Postgraduate level (NQF7) or higher which is 12 months or more in duration, or
  • You are a Government-sponsored student and your course is over six months long

In addition you must be over 18, must have sufficient money to support them and the members of your family must be classified as your dependents under UK immigration rules.

The application fee for a dependent visa is the same as a Tier 4 General visa. Please see relevant prices above.

The following people can come into the UK as your dependents:

  • Your husband or wife (age 18 or over)
  • Your civil partner, same-sex partner, or unmarried partner (age 18 or over).
  • Your children aged under 18 or a child of 18 years old or more, but already in the UK with immigration permission as a dependent child.

You can either:

  • Apply for your dependents’ visas at the same time as your Tier 4 application
  • Apply for your dependents to join you in the UK once your Tier 4 visa has been granted.

Your dependents must always make their applications in their home countries (unless it is an extension of an existing visa).

You must intend to live together as a family and your children must not be leading an independent life (for example married themselves or living away from home and working full-time) and your dependents must not intend to stay in the UK longer than the period of your student visa.

Fees

The fee for each dependent will be the same as for the student, £348 for an out of country online application or £475 for an in the UK postal application and £1085 for the premium, in-person, application.

These fees will change as from 6th April 2018: 

  • Out of country application: £348
  • Application made in the UK: £475 
  • Premium ( in person) application: £1085.

Further information

As part of any application a dependent must show that they have the required maintenance in their account (or lead applicant's account) for 28 days consecutively. A dependent must demonstrate £680 for each month of immigration permission they have been/will be granted (up to a maximum of 9 months). Please see information contained under the evidence of finances sections noted above for the type of documents that can be used to prove this

As well as financial documents, dependents must provide:

  • A valid passport
  • Proof of relationship with the lead applicant e.g. a marriage certificate or birth certificate
  • A valid BRP (if applying to extend in the UK)
  • An up to date Police Registration certificate (if you are from a country that requires Police registration and you are applying to extend in the UK).

For further information, please visit the UKCISA website.

Permission to work

Your spouse will usually be granted permission to work in the UK without limits. Check the visa carefully to ensure there is no prohibition to work.

Citizenship for dependents

Being born in the UK does not automatically make a baby a British citizen. The baby needs to have a parent with British citizenship or settled status in the UK in order to be born British.

It is legal for a baby born in the UK to remain without making an immigration application. However the baby will need immigration permission to re-enter the UK after any travel abroad.  We suggest you contact ISS if you have any questions relating to this issue.

Visa compliance

 

As a Tier 4 Sponsor, the University of Surrey is responsible for monitoring students during their studies. We will check your passport and valid leave to remain/enter to ensure that you have a visa linked to the University. If you are a holder of a Tier 4 visa currently linked to another University, you will not be able to register. You will need to make an application for a new visa linked to the University of Surrey before registration can take place.

The University has a duty to report to UK Visas & Immigration if you fail to arrive for the start of the course, withdraw from a course, defer or suspend your studies, complete your course before the expected end date or fail to attend without authorisation from your Faculty. This may lead to your visa being curtailed. You must therefore keep in touch with your Faculty, the Visa Compliance team and the International Student Office at all times, particularly if you encounter any problems before or during your studies.

Applying for a Short-Term Study Visa

If you are applying to come to the University for a period of study of 6 months or less, for example as part of an exchange programme, a summer school, a modular or distance learning programme or if you are a student returning to the University to complete exams or attend a viva then you may be eligible to apply under the Short-Term Study  route

Please note that for students on courses longer than 6 months the Short-Term Study route should not be used instead of the Tier 4 route and it cannot be used for extended periods through frequent or successive use.

Find more details on the GOV website

A Short-Term Study visa must be applied for from outside the UK.

Whether you need to apply for a Short-Term Study Visa when you arrive at the UK border (at the airport) or whether you will need to apply for it before you travel will depend on your nationality.

To check whether you can apply at the border or whether you will need to apply before travelling follow these steps. 

  • Select your nationality
  • Select “study”
  • Select “6 months or less”

I’ve been told I do not need a visa to come to the UK

You must go to a border control officer when you arrive in the UK to get a stamp in your passport. 

Make sure that the stamp they give you is a Short-Term Study stamp.

You must not use the e-gates to enter the UK, instead you must speak with a border control officer. If you do use the e-gates it is likely that the University will ask you to leave the UK and re-enter again with the correct immigration permission before you can begin your studies.

You will need to bring supporting documents with you (see below) and you should carry these in your hand luggage to present to the border control officer.

I’ve been told I’ll need a visa to study in the UK

You’ll need to apply for the visa and wait for a decision before you travel to the UK

It costs £97 to apply for a Short-Term Study Visa

  • Submit your online application form
  • Book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre
  • Attend your appointment
  • Submit your documents
  • Give your fingerprints and photograph

Application times can vary according to where you live and the time of year, so make sure that you apply as early as possible to avoid any delays. You can apply for a Short-Term Study visa up to three months before you need to come to the UK, but no earlier.

Whether you can get the Short-Term Study visa at the border or whether you need to apply before you travel, all students should prepare the following documents

  • A valid passport with at least 6 months remaining and at least one blank page
  • A letter from the University confirming your reasons for coming to the UK and details of your course
  • Evidence of where you will be staying while in the UK
  • Evidence that you can support yourself financially while in the UK – please note that there is no explicit criteria for how much money an applicant needs to show but we advise that you show you have income or savings of £1015 per month for every month you plan to stay in the UK
  • If you are undertaking study or research on certain subjects you will require an ATAS certificate. You can check whether your course requires an ATAS certificate here
  • If you are under the age of 18 you will require a letter from your parents or guardians giving you consent to travel for the purposes of study

If you need to apply for your visa before travelling you should also provide the following documents where possible (students who can get the visa at the border do not need to bring these documents). You may submit your application without these documents but they will help to show the Home Officer caseworker who will decide your application that you have ties with your home country and a genuine plan to leave the UK before the end of your visa

  • Evidence of your home address in the country you are normally resident in
  • Evidence of any family members who still live in the country you are normally resident in
  • Evidence of any assets (houses, property, etc.) that you or your family members own in the country you are normally resident in
  • Evidence of return flight tickets – The University does not advise that you book flights before receiving a decision on your visa application

Please note that the Short-Term Study visa has the following conditions

  • You will not be eligible to work while in the UK, this includes paid or unpaid positions and any placement that is a part of your course
  • You will not be eligible for free medical treatment under the NHS and therefore you should consider taking out health insurance
  • The Short-Term Study visa cannot be extended nor can you switch to another visa type from within the UK

If you feel that any of the above conditions may affect your plans while at the University of Surrey then we would recommend you contact internationalsupport@surrey.ac.uk before arriving in the UK on a Short-Term Study Visa to discuss your options.