Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Student ServicesVisa and immigration

English language requirements

To apply for a Tier 4 visa, you need to meet the English language requirements set by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The English language requirements for UKVI are different from the English language requirements set by the University for your programme of study.

Check your CAS to see the documents you need to show your English language ability.
Check your CAS to see the documents you need to show your English language ability.

You can find more information about the English language requirements set by the University on the Admissions webpages on the University website.

After you have made your application to study at the University, you may be asked to complete a CAS questionnaire and the University will give you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), if required. The CAS is essential to apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa. Your CAS will say what evidence of your English language ability you will need to show for your Tier 4 visa application.

Check your CAS statement

You will receive your CAS statement in an email from the University. Your CAS statement will say which documents, if any, you will need to show your English language ability for the Tier 4 visa application. This information will be written in the English language qualification section of your CAS statement.

If your CAS says SELT required:  No, and the reason given is HEI sponsor has made assessment, then you do not need to provide any documents to prove your English language ability as part of your visa application.

If your CAS says SELT required: Yes, then you must provide the exact same English language test or qualification which is written on your CAS.

If you do not meet the English language requirements for your programme, the University may ask you to do a Pre-sessional course before your main programme of study. The Pre-sessional course is below degree level.

Tier 4 visa application for a Pre-sessional course or English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course

Pre-sessional courses are below degree level. Before the University can give you a CAS for a course below degree level, you will need to have passed an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) and achieved a minimum level of B1 of the Common Framework for Languages (CEFR) in all four areas of English language: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

The most common SELT is IELTS but you can find out which other SELTs are approved by UKVI in their information page about Tier 4 (General) student visas.

If you achieve less than B1 CEFR in any area, you will not receive a CAS and you will not be able to apply for a Tier 4 visa. Instead, you should look at our information about applying for a short-term study visa. Please be aware: if you travel to the UK on a short-term study visa you will not be able to extend your visa in the UK. You will have to return to your home country to make an application for a visa which is not in the visitor category. If you need advice about the type of visa to apply for, please contact us using our online enquiry form.

If your CAS is for the Pre-sessional course only, the Tier 4 visa you receive to enter the UK will expire at the end of your Pre-sessional course. If you pass the Pre-sessional course and you are eligible to apply for a Tier 4 visa inside the UK, the University VISAS Team can help you to apply for a new Tier 4 visa for your main programme of study. It is very important that you read the important information about the application process to extend your Tier 4 (General) visa inside the UK, which is available on the University visa and immigration webpages.

If you achieve B2 CEFR in all four components of your IELTS (or equivalent), you may be able to get a CAS for your Pre-sessional course and your main programme of study. The University will assess if you are eligible for a joint CAS and will offer you this option if it is available to you. If you have chosen to have a joint CAS, your Tier 4 visa would be for the length of your Pre-sessional course and your main programme of study and this will affect the amount of maintenance you will need to show as part of you visa application.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

If you are uncertain about anything or you have a query then our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page may have the answer.

Visa drop-in and appointments

Visa drop-in and appointments

You can ask a Visa Advisor a quick question at the visa drop-in service or book an appointment for a longer discussion or application.

Enquiry form

Enquiry form

You can contact us through our online enquiry form. We strongly encourage people to contact us through the enquiry form rather than directly emailing us. 

Privacy Settings