Information on making a Tier 4 application in the UK

Process and Documents

The International@CampusLife (ICL) team includes several trained student immigration specialists who can assist you in the submission of your Tier 4 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 Tier 4 Dependants.

When should I make my visa application?

For continuing students, you should make your visa application as soon as you know that you will need additional time. For students who need extra time for a new course, you would  normally submit your application after you have the results from your previous course. In all cases you should aim to start preparations to extend your visa 2 months before you plan to apply or before your visa expires- whichever is sooner.

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.

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  How much money do I need for a Tier 4 visa application? will help you work out exactly how much money you need to prepare and how you can demonstrate this. Please note that in December 2018 (no exact date given yet) the Immigration Health Surcharge is due to increase to £300 per year
  • 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 adjacent.
  • Start the UKVI Tier 4 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 to complete it during your visa appointment. 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 Tier 4 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 Tier 4 will help you to ensure that any documents you prepare meet UKVI requirements. A list of documents is given below. 
    • Passport
    • 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)
    • Evidence of any academic qualifications as listed on your CAS
    • 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 with an ICL adviser and pay visa fee/IHS. Once you believe you have completed all your prepaprations, come along to an ICL drop-in. Bring with you 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 How much money do I need for a Tier 4 visa application? ). 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 you to come back. You will pay the fees online only when your application is complete and ready to go. ICL drop-in times can be found on our team web page. Any documents that need posting to the UKVI will be sent for you using the Special Delivery postal service.

What happens next?

Once your application has been submitted a biometric registration letter will be printed for you. You will need to take this letter to a Post Office to register your biometric, which entails having your fingerprints and photograph taken. There is an additonal £19.20 charge for this which you pay at the Post Office. You cannot go to any Post Office and the nearest one to us for biometrics is in Port Talbot (139, Station Road, SA13 1NG) or you could also go to Cardiff (45-46 Queen's Arcade, CF10 2BY). You will be given further information about this from ICL when you submit your application. You need to register your biomterics as quickly as possible after visa submission. The quicker you do it, the quicker your visa decision will be and if you do not do it in time your application will be returned by the UKVI as invalid.

How long until my visa comes back?

A standard postal visa application takes around 6-12 weeks to be returned. 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.

Your documents and visa card are returned separately. You will collect your documents from ICL and your visa card from MyUniHub. You will be emailed as soon as everything is returned and ready for collection. Please resist the temptation to chase us for news. 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 try to check all visas to make sure they are correct but you also need to do this. If there is anything at all that is incorrect please let us know. We may be able to get this recified for you for free. 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: Tier 4; Tiers 1 or 2; Short Term Study or Dependants. If your chosen course requires ATAS, you will not be able to be issued a CAS or Visa Letter, to be granted a visa or enrol on your course unless you have applied for and received the ATAS Certificate.

If you are a Tier 4 student, your offer letter statement from the University should state whether you require an ATAS certificate or not. If it is not stated on your offer letter then you will not need one.

If you are a Doctoral or Masters by Research student and you have received a Joint Academic Coding of Subjects (JACS) code (the code will be a letter followed by 4 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 to hand and these should have the JACS 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 JACS 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.

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.

  • 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 JACS 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?

The Tier 4 Policy Guidance explains that an 'ATAS certificate is issued for a specific course with a named Tier 4 sponsor and remains valid as long as the Tier 4 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:

  1. change your course;
  2. change your institution; or
  3. 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.

Time Caps and Visa Lengths

Time caps

 In April 2012, the Home Office introduced a maximum time limit for international students who are studying at undergraduate and Masters level in the UK. In most cases, the time limit for completing both undergraduate and Masters level studies combined is 5 years. If you are applying to extend your visa for a course which is below Doctorate (PHD) level and and the total length of all the visas you have had to study, at degree level or above, is more than 5 years, then your visa is likely to refused and the University may decline to issue you a CAS. The UKVI include all the time granted on your study visas and not just time spent studying. If working out if you have enough time to apply for fresh leave, you need to be aware of the total visa length that would be granted for the extension or new visa you are hoping to apply for and not just the lnegth of the course

If you are very close to the time cap or there is some doubt over your exact visa periods, the University may ask your permission to contact the UKVI for clarification. You can find further information about time caps on the UKCISA website and in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

Visa lengths

It is important for you to check that your visa has been issued for the correct length of time.

When considering your application for a visa the UKVI should comply with the following guidance:

Type/length of course Length of stay allowed
12 months or more The full length of the course + 4 months after the end of your course
6 months or more but less than 12 months The full length of the course + 2 months after the end of your course
Pre-sessional course of less than 6 months The full length of the course + 1 month after the end of your course
Course of less than 6 months that is not a pre-sessional course The full length of the course + 7 days after the end of your course
Postgraduate doctor or dentist The full length of the course + 1 month after the end of your course

It is important that you make sure that you have the right entry clearance (visa) as soon as possible. If you realise that you have not been issued with the correct length of visa, the International@CampusLife team may be able to help you get it changed for free. You must do this as quickly as possible. To see if the team can help, bring your passport, CAS statement and Biometric Residence Permit (visa) to an ICL drop-in session on either Bay or Singleton campus.

Please note that if you have financial sponsorship, and your financial sponsor limits the time you may study in the UK then your visa will only be issued for the time period stated on your sponsorship letter. You may find that this does not include the additional time listed above. There is nothing that can be done to change this. In order to get additional time you would have to ask for a new Financial letter covering the whole period and then make a fresh Tier 4 visa application. Therefore, make sure that the Financial Sponsor letter you use in your original visa application covers your whole course plus any permissable additional time.

If you have any questions about the length of time for which your visa has been issued please email international @Campuslife including copies of all relevant documents so they can check for you


Tier 4 responsibilities

To find out more about the University's and student's responsibilities under Tier 4 click on  Tier 4 Duties & Responsibilities