Tier 4 (General) Student– Extending or switching your visa
Student visa extensions made since 31 March 2009 come under a set of rules, called Tier 4 (General) Student. This information is intended for: UK-based international students who need to extend their existing student visa to continue studies at the University of Edinburgh or UK-based non-students who wish to switch from a relevant visa category into the Tier 4 (General) student visa to undertake studies at the University (see “Who can apply?” below)
1. Who can apply? Please note: if you want to apply for a student visa to start a new course which begins more
than 1 month beyond your current visa expiry date, you can only apply for the Tier 4 (General) student visa outside of the UK, in your home country. If you are in this position, please refer to the guidance on “Tier 4 (General) Student – Applying for the UK student visa outside of the UK” You can apply to extend or switch into a student visa in the UK if you are currently in the country under one of the following categories: Student, including student visa granted before and after 31 March 09. Student nurse. Student Union sabbatical officer. Tier 1 Post Study Worker. International Graduate Scheme, Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme, Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme participant. Tier 2 (General), Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) or Tier 2 (Minister of Religion). Work permit holder.
If you hold any other category of visa than those listed above, you can only apply for the Tier 4 (General) student visa outside of the UK. Extending your Student Visa outside the UK You can choose to extend your current UK student visa outside of the UK in your home country or country of residence. Details of how to do this are included in this guidance.
2. Immigration Advice at the International Office
Advisers at the International Office provide advice and an application service for people applying for Tier 4 (General) who are current or prospective students at the University of Edinburgh. Workshops (Mondays, Fridays): The first stage of using the service is to attend a Tier 4 Workshop. This is a group session in which the basic requirements of Tier 4 are set out and we will also talk you through filling in an application form. By the end of the session, you should have a complete draft application form and a list of documents you need to gather together to make the application. Appointment (Tuesday, Thursday): Once you have attended a workshop, you can make an appointment to see an adviser to discuss the details of your application and to submit it to the International Office to send to the UKBA (UK Border Agency). Drop-ins (Wednesdays 0900-1230): We offer a drop-in service to students with specific visa questions on Wednesdays from 0900-1230. You do not need an appointment to attend.
3. When to apply
In the UK: You should start preparing your application in plenty of time ahead of your visa expiry date. The earliest you can apply for the visa is 5-7 weeks in advance of your expiry date. The International Office will accept your application up to 1 week before the visa expiry date. Note that the expiry date is the date on or by which you should have made an application to the UKBA. It is not the date by which you should have successfully extended your visa. You should therefore time your application according to this timescale. Outside of the UK: You can extend your visa outside of the UK if you require doing so as long as you have a Visa Letter which states the reasons that you need to extend. This is likely to be available to you when any extension of studies has been agreed.
To make an extension under the Tier 4 (General) Student visa you must pass a points’ based visa assessment. Tier 4 (General) requires you to score 40 points. Points 30 What you get points for Studying on a course with an approved education provider Maintenance (Funds) Requirement (see point 8) Evidence: The visa letter from the College Office (see point 7)
Personal Bank statements (see point 8-11) Visa letter (see point 7) Letter from official sponsor (see point 12 and 13) Student loan letter (see point 14) There are no additional areas to score points and no discretionary cases. 10 In addition, you will need to arrange to give your biometric data (fingerprints and facial photograph).
In the UK: The biometric data will be used to make your UK biometric ID card. Since November 2008, passports are no longer endorsed with a vignette (visa sticker) for a visa extension in the UK as the UK ID card is now your evidence of right of residence. Outside of the UK: The biometric data will be kept on file. You will not be issued with an ID card but will be issued with a vignette (visa sticker) in your passport.
When you make your application, you need to ensure that you have fulfilled all the points in
the format as set out by the rules, including the type of documentation you need to provide and you will also need to give your biometric details. If you do not fulfil the points or send in all the documents required at the time of applying, the UKBA will be refuse the application.
5. Application Process
In the UK: There are two ways to make a visa application in the UK. Postal Application (£357) With a postal application, you send your application and documents through the International Office to the UKBA in Croydon. Once the fee has been paid and your documents checked, you will be sent a letter requesting that you make a biometric ID card appointment. Once you have attended your biometric ID card appointment, your application will be queued for a decision. Following the decision, all documents are sent back to the International Office where we check that the right decision has been made and arrange with you to hand the documents back. Due to the added factor of the biometric ID card appointment, we recommend that it takes up to 12 weeks to make an application by post. In-person Premium Application (£560) If you need your passport for travel or you have the financial resources to do so, an in-person premium application can be made through the Public Enquiry Office in Glasgow. You need to make the appointment over the phone on 0870 606 7766. An adviser at the International Office can check your form and documents before you go. At the appointment, you give your biometric details. You will be advised of the decision on the day and your biometric ID card will be sent to your stated UK address 5 working days later. Outside of the UK: To begin the process, visit www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/howtoapply/wheretoapply/ to find out how to apply in your home country. Any visa application to come to the UK as a student requires the following basic steps. An extension to your student visa is also covered by this: Complete the application form (VAF9) and pay the fee (£145 or equivalent in local currency). Print out and keep a copy of the form once you have finished.
Complete the form VAF 9 Appendix 8. Print it out and complete it by hand. This is the case regardless of where in the world you are applying and even if your application is otherwise completely online. Schedule a biometric appointment and attend it (see “Biometrics” information below) Send the receipt from your biometric appointment (if one is issued) along with a print out of your VAF9 and the VAF9 Appendix 8 and the original documents as required - including your passport - to the embassy or visa application centre relevant to your nationality or location.
6. Application Form and Documents
Application Form – In the UK
To make an application, you require to complete an application form. The following form has precompleted sections for those applying through the International Office: www.international.ed.ac.uk/download/immigration/VisaExtentionT4Form.pdf As the application form is 56 pages in length, we suggest that you print it out double sided, observing that page 8 of the form is face up and page 9 is also face up. The form must be completed in black ink and B LOC K C A P IT A LS. You should not use tippex/white-out anywhere on the application form nor should you score writing out. If you make a mistake, reprint the page and start the question again. Documents In addition to the application form, you will need to provide the following documents: Your passport Your police registration certificate (if applicable) Payment of £357 (postal orders, Maestro, Master-card, Visa, or Solo) or £565 if you wish to make an in-person application. 4. 2 passport photographs http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/flr/photoguidance 5. A completed application form (Tier 4 General): http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/pbs/tier4applicationform 6. The Visa Letter, including any tuition fee receipts and relevant transcripts. 7. Bank statements 8. ATAS certificate (if required) 9. Sponsor’s Letter (if applicable): if you are sponsored by the UK government, your home government, the British Council, or any international organisation, company or university. 10. Student loan agreement (if applicable). The rules for Tier 4 are stringent and you will need to provide the full set of required documentation alongside your application. Additional documentation other than the items listed above, is not required and should not be sent. 1. 2. 3.
Application Form – Outside of the UK
Application form VAF9 - PBS Migrant PBS Appendix 8 (General) Student PBS Migrant guidance notes Depending upon where you apply, you will need to complete application form VAF9 – PBS Migrant either online or in hard copy format. Check www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/howtoapply/wheretoapply/ to find out how to apply in your country. Whether you apply online or in hard copy, you then need to print off and complete PBS Appendix 8 (General) Student by hand and include it with your application and documents. You should also include a print out of your VAF9 form with your application.
Application Form VAF9
VAF9 (or the equivalent choice on the online application system) is an application form which requests your personal details. You should follow the official guidance notes (PBS Migrant guidance notes) at all times when you complete the application form. The following notes are basic guidance to help you through the application form. They are numbered according to the hard copy form but will correspond to sections in the online form.
Application Form PBS Appendix 8 (General) Student
PBS Appendix 8 (General) Student is the specific form required for a student visa application. Again, you should refer to the official guidance notes linked above as you complete it. The following notes should help you through some of the form. In addition to a print out of PBS Appendix 8, you should provide the following documents at the time of the application: 1. 2. Your passport – you must send your original passport with your application. A recent passport standard photograph corresponding to the format set out in the photo guidance: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/flr/photoguidance Your Visa Letter and all the original documents or transcripts listed on which your offer of study was based (see section 11 “Visa Letter”). Bank statement/Letter from Bank demonstrating the required level of maintenance funds (see section 12 “Maintenance (Funds) Requirement”). Tuition fee receipt: if you have paid tuition fees after your visa letter has been issued, you should request an original tuition fee receipt from firstname.lastname@example.org ATAS certificate (if required) see www.fco.gov.uk/atas/ and section 10 “ATAS Certificate” Sponsor’s Letter (if applicable): if you are sponsored by the UK government, your home government, the British Council, or any international organisation, company or university (see section 12 “Maintenance (Funds) Requirement”). Student loan agreement (if applicable) (see section 11 “Maintenance (Funds) Requirement”).
Where a document is not in English or presented in a bilingual format, the original must be accompanied by a fully certified translation by a professional translator. This translation must include details of the translator’s qualifications and confirmation from the translator that it is an accurate translation of the original document. It must also be dated and include the original signature of the translator.
7. The Visa Letter The Visa Letter is the only relevant evidence for 30 points and is therefore central to your visa
application. It has a set format and template as directed by the UKBA Policy Guidance linked above. Any other letter apart from this particular Visa Letter will not get the 30 points. You will need to arrange to get the Visa Letter through your College Office before you attend your appointment at the International Office to hand in your documents. If you are applying outside of the UK, obtain this Visa Letter before you go. Due to the detailed nature of the Visa Letter, you may need to wait for it to be produced. You should note that an offer letter is not the Visa Letter and it should therefore not be used to apply for a visa.
8. The Fees and Maintenance (Funds) Requirement
The maintenance requirement is a new part of the visa process. It carries an essential 10 points and all funds stated below must be demonstrated either in the visa letter with a fee payment receipt and/or in above-zero, credit balance cash funds, in a bank account in your name or in joint name. The only exception to this is if your fees and maintenance are covered in full by an official financial sponsor. No other proof of funds is accepted and as a result, you may need to rearrange your banking in order to fulfil the requirements of the visa. The level of funds required can be broken down into fees and maintenance (funds) requirements.
The UKBA will use the figure stated in the Fees/Maintenance section of the visa letter to determine how much in fees you will be assessed against. This will be the first or current year of fees not the fees for the full course. If you have fully paid your fees for the year This will be shown in your visa letter. A statement of tuition fee payments printed off from your MyEd account endorsed with a University stamp is satisfactory for use along with the visa letter. If you have paid your full fees for the year and you provide an official receipt for this with your visa letter, you will only need to demonstrate your maintenance (funds). If you have part-paid of your fees for the year
If you have part-paid your fees for the year and still have payments to make, your total payment to date will be shown in your visa letter next to the cost of fees for the year. You will also need to attach a receipt of these fees to your visa letter. A statement of tuition fee payments printed off from your MyEd account endorsed with a University stamp is satisfactory for use along with the visa letter. If you have paid part your fees for the year, the balance will need to be shown in cash funds in a bank account in your name or in joint name in addition to your maintenance (funds).
10. Maintenance (funds)
The UKBA have determined that for a student based outside of London, it costs £600 per month not including fees, to financially maintain themselves. Proving the Maintenance (funds) requirement can be done by having the relevant cash funds in an above-zero balance in a bank account in your name. Joint accounts are also accepted. The evidence must be provided in the form of an original bank statement, covering 28 days with the closing balance dated within 1 month of the date you apply for your visa. If you apply before 1 June 2009: the required level of funds must be present on or by the closing balance in the 28 days of your bank statement. If you apply after 1 June 2009: the required level of funds must be present throughout the full 28 days of your bank statement.
The maintenance requirement is also based on the number of months you have remaining on your course and the number of months you have already been studying in the UK. The majority of students extending their visa in the UK through the International Office will come under either category A or B. A B If you have completed a course in the UK in the past 4 months and, that course was more than 6 months in length and you need to extend your visa for less than 9 months. If you have completed a course in the UK in the past 4 months and, that course was more than 6 months in length and you need to extend your visa for more than 9 months First/Current year of fees and
£600 per month up to a maximum of 2 months. First/Current year of fees and
£1,200 to cover 2 months maintenance in the UK
If your previous course in the UK was less than 6 months in duration (such as short English language courses, summer school etc) or if you are applying and your last course finished more than 4 months ago (such as switching from Fresh Talent, Tier 1 Post Study Work etc) you will need to fulfil the full maintenance funds requirement: Course of 9 months or less Course fees
and £600 per month of the course. First year of fees and £5,400 to cover living costs in the UK.
Course of 9 months or more
If you are switching from another category of visa to the Tier 4 General visa you will need to fulfil the full maintenance fund requirement.
12. Sponsored Students
Financially sponsored students are considered to be those who receive funding for all or part of their tuition fees and/or maintenance costs from: the UK government, your home government, the British Council, or any international organisation, company or university.
If you receive financial sponsorship by any of the sources above, they will need to provide you a letter of confirmation. The letter must be on the official letter-headed paper of the organisation and it must also carry the official stamp of the organisation. The letter will need to show: Your name The name and contact details of the sponsorship organisation The date of the letter The length of sponsorship The amount of money they will sponsor you with or a statement that your official financial sponsor will cover all of your fees and living costs.
If there is any difference between what your sponsor will pay and your level of fees and maintenance (funds) requirement, you will need to demonstrate that you have the balance of these funds available to you in cash funds in your bank account. If you are making an extension application and you have had sponsorship from such an agency within the past 12 months for your studies, you will need to provide a further letter from them which states that they “have no objection” to you extending your time in the UK, whether they will fund you for this or not. Please note that if you are sponsored and are applying on the basis that you will receive sponsorship during your studies, a sponsor’s letter is an essential requirement and without it, your application will be refused.
13. Private Sponsorship
Private sponsorship covers sponsorship by parents, family and friends. In the previous immigration rules, it was acceptable to provide letters and documents demonstrating a private sponsor’s income or assets and evidence that they had been regularly sending money.
Under Tier 4 (General) student, you will need to demonstrate that any funds required for fees and maintenance (funds) requirement in the UK are present as above-zero, cash funds in an account in your name. This can also be a joint account, however, you will need to be included as one of the account holders. Under the rules, no alternatives to this are accepted and you may have to rearrange your banking in order to fulfil the requirements.
14. Student Loans
Students receiving student loans from an official source in their home country should provide a letter confirming the funds that are available to them. The letter must be an ORIGINAL document confirming the loan (i.e. on letterhead and signed - emails will not be accepted). The letter must specifically state that a) the loan has already been confirmed or b) the loan will definitely be confirmed upon issuance of the visa. If there is any difference between the loan and the level of maintenance and tuition fees required for your maintenance (funds) requirement, you will need to show the balance in above zero cash funds in an account in your name.
15. Applying with Dependants
If you are applying with dependants, you will need to complete an application form for each dependant. There is also an additional maintenance (funds) requirement for each dependant. Please refer to our guidance on “Tier 4 General – Applying with Dependants”.
16. Further links
Tier 4 application form for students using the International Office service: Tier 4 Application form: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/pbs/tier4applicationform Tier 4 General policy guidance: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/pbs/Tier4migrantguidance.pdf Tier 4 General information from UKBA: www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/studyingintheuk/quickguideforstudent/adultstudents/ ATAS certification information and application site: www.fco.gov.uk/en/fco-in-action/counter-terrorism/weapons/atas/
Disclaimer: We aim to ensure that our online and written guidance is accurate however immigration rules and processes are subject to change often at short or without significant public notice. We therefore advise that immigration rules and policy guidance issued by the UK Government and published on their official websites or publications as referred to in our information, supersedes our own guidance in any case and should be used as your primary source of information. The International Office cannot accept responsibility for any errors or admissions, for consequences arising from the use of our advice nor for the decisions made by the UKBA or other agencies regarding immigration applications. The International Office provides immigration advice and services regulated by the Immigration Services Commissioner and authorised to provide immigration advice and guidance by an order under Section 84(4)(d) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (Part V Exemption: Educational Institutions and Health Sector Bodies) Order 2001 (Statutory Instrument 2001 No. 1403.