This page looks at the eligibility criteria and visa application process for applying for a Tier 4 visa from inside the UK, also known as making a leave to remain application. 

Can I apply for my Tier 4 (general) student visa from inside the UK?

Your ability to make a Tier 4 (general) student visa application from inside the UK will depend on whether you meet the Tier 4 eligibility requirements

Eligibility requirements

You will need to take the following factors into consideration when thinking about applying for a Tier 4 (general) student visa from inside the UK:

  • Your current sponsor
  • Academic progression 
  • The time limits on study 
  • The gap between the expiry of your visa and the start of your course  

My current sponsor

This is only relevant to students who already hold a Tier 4 (general) student visa. Your Tier 4 sponsor is the education institution for which your most recent Tier 4 visa was issued. Your current Tier 4 (general) student visa must have been issued to study with one of the following sponsors:

  • A higher education provider with a track record of compliance. The University of Westminster is a higher education provider with a track record of compliance
  • An overseas higher education institution and you have been undertaking a short-term study abroad programme in the UK, or
  • An embedded college offering pathway courses (this does not include pre-sessional courses), or
  • An independent school

You can check the status of your Tier 4 sponsor on the Tier 4 register of sponsors on GOV.UK. If your current sponsor does not fall into one of the categories listed above, you will not be able to make your visa application from inside the UK. 

Academic progression: do I meet the academic progression rules?

To make a Tier 4 (general) student visa application from inside of the UK, you must meet the academic progression requirement or be exempt from meeting this requirement. This includes students who have previously held a Tier 4 visa but now hold a different visa.

If you do not meet the academic progression requirement, you will not be able to make your visa application from inside the UK. Instead you will need to make your application from your home country. For more information about applying outside of the UK, visit the Applying for a Tier 4 visa from outside the UK page.  

To meet the academic progression requirement you must have successfully completed the course for which your Tier 4 visa was granted, unless you are exempt from academic progression. 

You must also be progressing academically. Your new course must normally be above the level of your previous course, for example, if you have completed your Bachelor’s degree course, you must now be applying to study a Master’s course. It is possible to study a second course at the same level, however you cannot study a course at a lower level. 

If you are a student who wants to study a course at the same level as a course you have already studied before for example a second Masters, you will need to have a progression statement added to your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You will need to show how the new programme is related to your previous course (either connected to the previous course, part of the same subject group, or involves deeper specialisation) or that the previous and new course combined support your career aspirations. You should email the Tier 4 team with your progression statement: [email protected]  Progression statements are not always accepted so take time to work on a good statement that meets the above requirements.

Academic progression: I am a current student at the University of Westminster

If you are applying to re-sit an exam, repeat a course module or you have re-sat exams or repeated course modules in the past and you now need to extend your visa to compete your course, you will be exempt from meeting the academic progression requirement. Your new CAS must confirm that you are exempt from academic progress. 

If you have previously changed course, having met the relevant requirements to do so, your re-sit or repeat must be relevant to your new course and not your previous course. You are required to submit a transcript of results to demonstrate that your re-sit or repeat relates to your new course. 

You are also exempt from the academic progression requirement if you are extending your visa to undertake a study abroad year or work placement or you have previously completed a   study abroad year or work placement and you now need further time to complete your course. 

Please note there are additional factors that the University needs to check before they can issue with a new CAS. The University will check your mode of attendance, when your re-sit or repeat module will take place and whether you are within the time limit to study in the UK. 

If you continuing on a course at the University of Westminster, please contact Student Advice for further advice and ask to see the ‘Retaking/repeating part of your degree course – the effect on your Tier 4 visa’ or the ‘Information for Tier 4 students considering taking a work placement’ information sheet.  

The rules concerning academic progression are complex, for detailed information about the academic progression, requirement go to the Tier 4 Eligibility requirements page or contact Student Advice

The time limit to study on a Tier 4 (general) student visa

This requirement is not specific to students who wish to make a visa application from inside of the UK but is relevant to anyone who wants to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa. 

There is a five-year time limit on the number of years that you can study at degree level on a Tier 4 (General) Student visa. If your visa extension would lead to you having spent more than the maximum period permitted the Home Office will refuse your Tier 4 Visa application. 

For more information about the time limit for studying in the UK and the exceptions to this rule, please visit the Tier 4 Eligibility requirements page. 

The gap between the expiry of your current visa and the start of your course 

There must be no more than a 28-day gap between the expiry of your current visa and the start of your new course, this is the case whether you are applying to switch to a Tier 4 (General) student visa or if you already hold a Tier 4 visa and you applying to start a new course at the University of Westminster. If there is a gap of more than 28 days between the expiry of your visa and the start of your course, you must not make your visa application from inside the UK as your visa application is likely to be refused. See the Applying for a Tier 4 visa from outside the UK page.

I am applying for an extension of my visa as a continuing student

If you are a current student at the University of Westminster and you need to extend your visa because you need extra time to complete your course, please contact Student Advice to check whether you can extend your visa within the UK. 

If Student Advice confirm that you can extend your visa in the UK, you will need a new Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). You must apply for your visa extension before your current visa expires.

I am applying for a visa to study a new course and have recently completed a course at the University of Westminster 

If you have recently completed a course at the University and you wish to start a new course at Westminster, please contact Student Advice to see whether you can extend your visa from within the UK. 

If Student Advice confirm that you can make your visa application from inside of the UK, you will be able to start your course on your current visa.  You must submit your visa application, using a new CAS for your new course, within six weeks of enrolling onto your course, or before your visa expires, whichever is earliest. If there is a gap of more than 28 days between the expiry of your current visa and the start of your new course, you will not be able to make your visa application from inside of the UK. You must meet the academic progression requirement and you must be within the time limit to study in the UK.  

I am applying for a visa to study at the University of Westminster and have successfully completed a course at a different institution

If you are applying to start a new course at the University of Westminster, you will need to make your visa application before you can enrol onto your course. You will not be able to enrol onto your course until you have a visa for the University of Westminster or you provide evidence that you have applied to extend your Tier 4 (general) student visa in the UK using a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for the University of Westminster.

Can I switch to a Tier 4 (general) student visa from inside the UK?

You can switch to a Tier 4 (general) student visa from within the UK if you currently hold the following visas:

  • Tier 4 (child) student
  • Tier 2

If you hold one of these visas, contact Student Advice to check your eligibility to make your visa application from inside of the UK.

I am switching from a Tier 2 visa to a Tier 4 (general) student visa

You must check that you meet the Tier 4 eligibility requirements mentioned above. If you have previously studied a course in the UK on a Tier 4 visa you must meet the academic progression requirement and be within the time limit for studying in the UK on a Tier 4 (general) student visa. To apply in the UK, your course must start within 28 days of the expiry of your visa. 

If you have ceased employment with your sponsor, please contact Student Advice for advice about whether you can make your visa application from inside the UK. 

Other visa categories

You cannot switch from a Tier 5 visa, short-term student visa, a visitor visa or a dependant visa to a Tier 4 (general) student visa from within the UK. See the Applying for a Tier 4 visa from outside the UK page

Making your Tier 4 (general) student visa application from inside the UK

How to apply

You must complete and submit the online visa application form and attend a biometric appointment. You must have been issued with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for your course at the University of Westminster before you submit your visa application. If you are a continuing student, you must wait until you have been issued with a new CAS before you make your visa application. 

A standard Tier 4 application usually takes eight weeks to be processed. If you want a decision more quickly you can make a priority application or super priority application

For a full list of documents you should include with your application, please refer to our Documents required for a Tier 4 visa page.

 

Type of application Tier 4 Online application
Application form

You must apply online on the GOV.UK website. You will need to click on the ‘Apply Now’ button to start the online form. You must complete your online form, pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, the Home Office fees, book your biometric appointment and print your Tier 4 checklist. We recommend that you also print or download and save a copy of the visa application form for your record.

Your next step will be to attend an appointment to submit your biometric information.

Immigration Health Surcharge

You must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of your visa application. The surcharge is £300 for each year of your visa. Part years of less than six months will be charged at £150. The IHS fee for a three-year undergraduate course is £1050. The IHS fee for a one-year Masters course is £450. 

Date of application

This is the date that you pay the online visa application fee. You must finish the application form and pay for it before your visa expires or before you start your course, whichever is relevant to your situation. Your supporting documents must meet the visa rules before your date of application. 

Application fee

Standard application fee: £475 (you will usually get a decision within eight weeks of submitting your online visa application form).

Priority application fee: £975 (decision within five working days of attending your biometrics appointment)

Super Priority application fee: £1,275 (decision within one working day of attending your biometrics appointment. If your appointment is during the weekend, you will receive a decision two working days after attending your biometric appointment). 

For all three service types, it can take up to 10 days, from when you receive a decision on your visa application, for your new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to be sent to you. 

The application process

You must apply for your visa online and attend an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizen Application Services service point to have your biometrics (fingerprint and photograph) taken. You will be directed to the Sopra Steria website to book an appointment at the end of the online application process. You will be given a deadline within which you must attend an appointment. There may be an appointment fee associated with certain service centres.

If you have selected one of the priority services you will not be able to see appointment availability until after you have paid the application fee.

Once you have booked your appointment, you will be able to scan and upload your supporting documents. You are also able to do this at your appointment, although there may be a fee to pay for this. Please note if you do upload your documents before you attend your appointment we also recommend that you take those documents with you to your appointment. Your supporting documents, including your passport, will be returned to you after they have been scanned. 

While your application is pending 

You will have possession of your passport; however, it is important that you do not travel outside of the Common Travel Area (the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) while your application is pending. Travelling outside of the Common Travel Area, before you receive a decision on your application, will automatically withdraw your application. 

When to apply

If you are currently on a Tier 4 visa or are switching visa category you should apply for your visa extension before your current visa expires.

If you remain in the UK after the expiry date of your visa, without submitting your visa application, you will become an overstayer, which is a criminal offence. There are serious consequences of overstaying your visa and it is unlikely that you will be able to start or continue with your studies at Westminster as an overstayer. You can read about the consequences of overstaying your visa on the UKCISA website

You should prepare for your visa application in advance of your visa expiry date to ensure that you have the time to gather your supporting evidence, this is especially the case if you require an ATAS certificate or have previously been sponsored by an Official Financial Sponsor

If you hold a Tier 4 (general) student visa which is sponsored by another institution, see the section ‘I am applying for a visa to study at the University of Westminster and I have successfully completed a course from a different institution’. 

Please note that a Tier 4 (general) student visa application must not be made more than three months before the start of your course. 

I have received a decision on my visa application, what are my next steps? 

You will most likely receive a decision on your visa application via email. Alternatively, you could be sent a decision in the post. It is important that you read the information on the decision notification carefully. The notification email or letter will confirm whether the Home Office has granted or refused your application. If your application has been granted you should check the information to ensure your visa details are correct, including the start and end dates of your visa.  You should also familiarise yourself with the conditions of your new visa. Please note that your new visa will be issued to you as a Biometric Residence Permit.

Receiving your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

Your visa will be granted on a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). A BRP is a plastic card (like a credit card) which contains your photograph, your personal information, your immigration permission and the conditions of your visa. Your BRP will be sent, by courier,  to the correspondence address mentioned on your visa application form. It can take up to 10 days, after you receive a decision on your application, for your BRP to be sent to you. 

What details do I check on my BRP? 

  • Your personal details 
  • The start and end date – your visa should be granted for the duration of your course plus an additional four months if your course duration is for 12 months or more. For courses that are six months or more but less than 12 months, you should be given an extra two months at the end of your course
  • The University’s sponsor license number – KQG71BMB4 

There is an error on my BRP

For basic errors such as your name, date of birth or nationality, you will have to report these on the GOV.UK website within 10 days of receiving your BRP. Failure to report an error within 10 days could result in you having to apply and pay for a BRP replacement.

If there is an error with the length of your stay or the conditions of your visa, you will need to submit an administrative review application. Please contact Student Advice immediately if there is an error on your BRP.

Police registration

If you are required to register with the police, you will need to update your Police Registration Certificate within seven days of receiving your new BRP.

Please note you must notify the police if your details change. Failing to register with the police or keeping your Police Registration Certificate up to date is an offence. The Home Office can refuse future immigration applications or remove you from the UK, which could result in a ban from returning to the UK. For detailed information about police registration please have a look at the UK Council for International Student Affairs website

Refusals

If your Tier 4 (general) student visa application is refused, you must inform the University's Tier 4 visa team by emailing and contact Student Advice to discuss your next steps.