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The University of Southampton
Student ServicesVisa and immigration

Applying from outside the UK

Applying from outside the UK.
Information about applying for a Tier 4 visa outside the UK.

The information on this webpage is about applying for a Tier 4 (general) visa outside the UK, including:

  1. Who needs a visa and which visa do I need?
  2. When and where can I apply?
  3. What do I need to prepare?
  4. How do I apply?
  5. What happens after I submit my application?

1. Who needs a visa and which visa do I need?

International students aged 16 or over who will study a programme longer than six months usually require a Tier 4 (general) visa. 

You do not require a Tier 4 (general) visa if:

  • You are a Swiss national or a national of any country in the European Economic Area (EEA). 
  • You have a visa or immigration permission for the UK in another category which has no restriction on study and your permission will be valid for the length of your programme. 

It is your responsibility to get the correct visa type for your studies. 

You can check if you need a visa for study in the UK on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa

If you are not sure if you need a visa or which type of visa you need to study in the UK, contact us using our online enquiry form

Pre-Sessional English language programmes

We recommend that students who will study a pre-sessional English language programme apply for a Tier 4 (general) visa. It is not possible to switch from a short-term study visa to a Tier 4 (general) visa in the UK. 

You can find more information for pre-sessional students about extending your Tier 4 (general) visa in the UK on our Pre-Sessional English language students visa renewal webpage.

Programmes shorter than six months

You may be eligible for a short-term study visa if you will be studying:

  • a programme which will be completed in less than six months
  • an exam only
  • a distance learning programme
  • an English language programme which will be completed in less than six months

You can find more information on our short-term study visa webpage.

2. When and where can I apply?

When

You can apply up to three months before the start date of your programme of study in the UK.

You should allow plenty of time for your visa application to be processed. You can find information about visa processing times at your local Visa Application Centre on the UKVI website.

If you are a continuing student and you must apply outside the UK for your Tier 4 (general) visa, you can find out when to apply by contacting us using our online enquiry form or by visiting the VISAS drop-in service.

Where

You must apply for your visa in your country of residence or your country of nationality. If there is not a Visa Application Centre which offers the visa type you require in your country of residence or nationality, you will be asked during the online application to confirm you can attend an appointment at a Visa Application Centre in an alternative location. 

If you are already in the UK, you must check that you are eligible to switch to a Tier 4 (general) visa or extend your Tier 4 (general) visa before you apply. You can find more information about who is eligible to apply for a Tier 4 (general) visa inside the UK on the UKVI extend your Tier 4 visa webpage. If you are unsure if you are eligible to extend your visa in the UK, contact us using our online enquiry form. You can find more information about applying for a visa inside the UK on our webpage.

3. What do I need to prepare?

To apply for a Tier 4 (general) visa you will need:

  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
  • Documents
  • Money to pay the visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), if applicable

CAS

Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement is information about you and your programme of study which is shared between the University and UKVI. Your CAS number appears in your CAS statement and is a reference you must enter in your online visa application form. You must have a CAS before you apply for your Tier 4 (general) visa. 

If you are starting a new programme of study at the University of Southampton or you are coming to the UK for the first time during your studies, you will be sent a CAS questionnaire when you have been unconditionally accepted for your programme. You will not receive a CAS until you complete and return the CAS questionnaire. You can find more information on the University webpage: CAS guidance for students

If you are a continuing student, you must complete a continuing student CAS request form and return this to your Faculty Office. You can find a continuing student CAS request form in Useful Downloads at the bottom of this webpage. 

You are a continuing student if you are:

  • returning to your studies after suspension
  • continuing your studies after repeating
  • applying for a new Tier 4 (general) visa to change your programme before you have completed your current programme of study
  • continuing your PhD programme

Documents

You must prepare the following original documents:

  • Current and previous passport(s) or travel document(s)
  • Two photos which meet UK passport requirements
  • If you are under 18 years old, your parent(s)/guardian(s)'s consent to travel to and study in the UK
  • Tuberculosis test certificate, if you are from a country where the test is required
  • ATAS certificate, if you are studying a programme where this is required
  • Academic qualifications (original), which are listed on your CAS
  • Financial evidence that you have money to pay tuition fees and living costs. You can find more information about financial evidence on our maintenance webpage

If you are eligible for the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme, you do not need to submit academic qualifications or financial evidence. You can find out if you are eligible for the Pilot on the University Tier 4 Pilot webpage: 

If any of your documents are not in English, you must provide an original certified translation. Certified translations must include:

  • confirmation from the translator/translation company that it is an "accurate translation of the original document"
  • the date of the translation
  • the translator's full name
  • the translator's signature
  • the translator/translation company's credentials (qualification or registration as a translator)
  • the translator/translation company's contact details

Read the UKVI guide to supporting documents for full information.

Money for visa application fee and IHS

The visa application fee will depends on which application service you select. Each applicant must pay an application fee. 

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a payment to use National Health Services while you are in the UK. You can find out who needs to pay and how much you should expect to pay on the UKVI IHS website.

4. How do I apply?

  • Prepare your CAS, documents and money for fees. You can find more information in the previous section, "What do I need to prepare?" 
  • Complete the online visa application form.
  • Visit the Visa Application Centre. You can find more information in the next section: "What happens after I submit my application?"

Complete the online visa application form

When you have your CAS, documents and money for fees prepared, watch our podcast videos to help you to complete the online visa application form.

You can find the online Tier 4 (general) visa application form on the UKVI website.

Collect your BRP from University of Southampton

Enter the Alternative Collection Location code: 2HE382

5. What happens after I submit my application?

At the Visa Application Centre

At the Visa Application Centre, you will:

  • Provide your documents
  • Give your fingerprints and have a photo taken of your face (biometrics)
  • Give your signature

You may also have an interview. 

After your application has been decided

When your application has been decided, you will collect your documents from the Visa Application Centre. 

If your application was successful, when you collect your passport from the visa application centre in your home country, your Tier 4 (general) visa will be a vignette (sticker) in your passport. 

If your application was refused, contact us using the online enquiry form.

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

If your programme is longer than six months, your Tier 4 (general) visa vignette will only be valid for 30 days to allow you to enter the UK. You will collect your visa for the full length of your stay when you arrive in the UK. The visa you collect when you arrive is called a BRP (Biometric Residence Permit).

You will be asked to select the location where you would like to collect your BRP during the online visa application form. You can collect your BRP from the University of Southampton by entering the Alternative Collection Location code: 2HE382

If you choose to collect your BRP from the University, you will receive your visa when you enrol. You will either enrol at the International Registration event or at the Registry Office, depending on when your programme of study begins. 

If you choose to collect your BRP from another location, you must collect it before you can enrol at the University. If you applied for your Tier 4 (general) visa outside the UK, you cannot enrol without your BRP. 

Arriving in the UK

We hope your experience in the UK is happy and rewarding. You can find helpful information for international students on the following University webpage.

Useful Downloads

Need the software?PDF Reader

Useful external links

Please note: The University of Southampton cannot accept responsibility for the content of external websites.

UKVI - Tier 4 Visa InformationUKVI - Visa Processing TimesUKVI - TB Test
UKVI - Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office - ATASUKCISA - Guidance for Applying Outside of the UK

Useful internal links

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Visa drop-in and appointments

Visa drop-in and appointments

We offer a drop-in service for quick questions regarding your visa or you can book an appointment to speak, in depth, with one of our Visa Advisors.

Enquiry form

Enquiry form

You can contact us through our online Enquiry Form. We strongly encourage people to contact us through the online Enquiry Form rather than to directly email us.

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