Applying from inside the UK
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have published new guidance in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. The guidance is important for Tier 4 visa holders who are in the UK and whose visas expire between 24 January and 31 July 2020 and who are affected by international travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The new UKVI Tier 4 coronavirus guidance explains how people in this situation can apply for a special visa extension until 31 July 2020 so that they will have reassurance that they can stay in the UK until you are able to return home safely.
There is no charge for applying, and you should use the online UKVI application form for special visa extension.
If you have already applied for a special visa extension to 31 May 2020, and have not heard the outcome yet, you do not need to re-apply. If you are granted a special visa extension, it will be valid until 31 July 2020.
Similarly, if you have already been granted an extension to 31 May, it will automatically be extended to 31 July 2020. You do not need to apply for an extension.
Student visa holders who are in the UK now and will be continuing to study in the UK, and whose visas are going to expire before 31 July 2020, should contact their school offices and email@example.com to discuss their options, including requesting a CAS and making a new Tier 4 visa application as normal.
Students with expired visas
Students whose visas have already expired (after 24 January 2020) who have not already applied for the special visa extension can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss their circumstances, as they may still be able to apply for the special visa extension to 31 July 2020.
Under normal circumstances, the most common reason for a visa refusal is not meeting the financial requirements. You are required to hold tuition fees and maintenance for a period of 28 days and the University will ask to see your documentation prior to issuing a CAS letter. Please take time to read the information contained in the ‘financial documents' section below.
Rules regarding those permitted to apply to extend their visa from inside the UK are very strict. If you have changed course, or had to repeat a semester/year, and now need to extend your visa (either to continue, or to begin a new course) you may be required to apply from outside of the UK. Please contact ISA for further information.
Accessing the visa application form
If you are currently in the UK and are permitted to extend your Tier 4 visa, or are applying to switch from another permitted visa category, then you should do so via the UK Government website. Take time to read through the guidance, and when you are ready to draft your application form, select 'Extend your visa', followed by 'Apply to extend your stay' which can be found half way down the page.
When you create an application you will be sent a link via e-mail. You must keep this link safe as you will need it to log in to your application at a later date.
You will find guidance on finding and completing the application form here: 'Guide to Completing an on-line Tier 4 Application Form from Inside the UK'.
If you are extending your Tier 4 visa to continue on the same course, the application must be made before your current visa expires. If you are changing insitutions or for students starting a new course application can only be made within the three months before your programme start date as noted on your CAS. Any application made before this point will automatically be refused. Please contact the Global Student Office (GSO) for further advice.
Please note, a new application process is being introduced from 30 November 2018.
Under the new process, application forms are completed online. Applications pay online, including the biometric enrolment fee.
Applicants are then directed to Sopra Seria's website to book an appointment to attend a VCAS centre in person, where they will enrol their biometric information. The website will indicate the latest date the appointment can be booked for, although applicants should be guaranteed an appointment no later than five working days from online submission.
Supporting documents can be uploaded online, or scanned at the appointment for a added fee. Applicants will retain their original documents, including their passports, while the application is being processed.
A thorough guide on making a Tier 4 (General) visa application can be found on the United Kingdom Council for International Students Association (UKCISA) website. We recommend the following pages; 'Eligibility and Requirements' and 'Making a Tier 4 (General) application in UK'. We advise that you take time to read this document carefully before making your application. It is also recommended that you read the Tier 4 Policy Guidance as published on the Home Office website.
Visa applications must be made before your current visa expires. Applications can be made in three different ways:
- Standard Application has a service standard of eight weeks and costs £475.
- Priority Application has a service standard of 10 working days and costs £952. 10 working days is the decision time only. The full duration is likely to take around three weeks from point of application to receiving your visa)
- Premium Service, face to face in Glasgow gives you a decision the same day. The visa is then received seven to ten working days later and costs £1085 (This service will no longer be available from 29 November 2018).
Immigration Health Surcharge
In addition to the application fee, you will need to pay an immigration health surcharge at point of application. The surcharge was introduced by the UK Government for students and their dependants to contribute towards the cost of providing a National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. The charge has been set at £150 for students and for their dependants (subject to change late 2018), and will be applied to all applications from inside the UK. The £150 is a pro rata annual fee based on the total number of years that the Student or Student Dependant visa is granted. Part years will be charged at £75 if less than six months, and £150 if between six months and 12 months duration.
This charge will be applicable to all nationalities. Further information can be found on the UKVI website: Immigration health surcharge: information for migrants.
How we can help
The Global Student Office (GSO) can help by checking your application form and documentation. It is still your responsibility to complete the application form and collect all supporting documents as per instructions. It is also you responsibility to scan an upload your supporting documents and/or make an appointment to visit a VCAS Centre in person (our nearest centre is in Glasgow).
Many student visa extensions are quite straightforward, however students can often experience delays in obtaining the supporting documentation they need. To allow extra time to receive items such as bank statements, family/embassy sponsor letters and CAS letters, plan to first speak to a Global Student Adviser five or six weeks before your visa expires. We are happy to meet with you to discuss your application at any point.
Once you have collected all of the supporting documentation that you need, and have started the on-line application form, you should then book an appointment with an adviser to check through these and help you to submit the application.
If you wish for GSO to help you with your application it is vital that when you reach the ‘Check your answers' section of the form, you select 'return to application later' and e-mail the link to yourself. You will need this link to log in at a later date. If you go any further than this then we will be unable to make any changes.
Please note, having a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number from Heriot-Watt University and sending your application through the University does not guarantee that your visa extension will be granted.
You are required to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK. The amount needed includes your full tuition fee as stated on your CAS letter (minus any amount already paid), plus maintenance of up to £9135. Maintenance is calculated as £1015 for each month of your course, up to a maximum of nine months (any part-month should be rounded up). This means that if you will be studying for a course that lasts three months only, the amount that you will need is £3045. If you will be studying for a course lasting nine months or more, the amount that you will need is £9135. The total maintenance and outstanding fees amount must be held as a minimum balance in the account for at least 28 days without dipping below the required amount. Required funds must remain in your bank account until the date of application.
Applicable to Doctorate Extension Scheme applicants only
If you are applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme the maintenance requirement is reduced to £2030 if; you currently have valid immigration permission as a Tier 4 (General) student or a student under the immigration rules in place before 31 March 2009, AND you have finished a single course that lasted six months or more during this immigration permission.
If you are unsure about what level of maintenance you should show, please contact ISAO at email@example.com.
What documents can you use?
More than one bank statement can be used, however they must be personal bank accounts, and show the same date range.
Personal Certificates of Deposit
These documents do not show the transaction details of the account and it is therefore important to check the date of the certificate and the deposit date. There must be a duration of 28 days or more between the deposit date and the date the certificate is issued. You also need to make sure the account is not frozen, usually there is a disclaimer on the back noting this but often a further disclaimer stating that the account can be unfrozen at any time at the request of the account holder.
Personal UK bank account
We recommend that you use a UK bank statement that is in your own name and that contains the following information:
- Your name
- Your account number
- The date of the statement (must be produced less than 31 days before your application)
- The bank's name and logo
- The amount of money available in your account
- Stamp on every page unless the statement was posted to you or you have a letter from the bank confirming the information within the statement is accurate.
Personal foreign bank account
This bank statement should show the same information as detailed above, however, in addition, the balance of your account should be shown in British Pounds (GBP). Your currency must be converted into pounds using the exchange rate found on the OANDA website. This conversion should be handwritten on the bottom of your bank statement along with the date you converted it.
Not all banks are accepted by the Home Office and it is therefore important you check their website before submitting your application. This affects the following countries: Cameroon, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Ghana, Bangladesh, Iran and Sri Lanka.
Please refer to Appendix P of the Immigration Rules for further information.
Parent/guardian bank account
The Home Office have agreed to also accept parental bank statements, provided these are accompanied by your birth certificate, and a signed letter from your parent(s) detailing (i) their relationship to you (ii) the amount shown on their bank statement and (iii) giving their permission for their funds to be used to pay for your UK tuition fees/living costs during your studies.
Official financial sponsorship
An official financial sponsor is: Her Majesty's Government; your home government (or embassy); the British Council; or any international organisation, university or company.
If you are being financially sponsored (either full, or in part) you will need to provide a letter from your sponsor. This must be written on their official letter-headed stationery. If your sponsorship is coming from the University then information should be included on the CAS letter. The letter must be dated (we would recommend your letter be no more than three months old) and include:
- Your name
- The name and contact details of your official financial sponsor
- The length of time your sponsorship covers (as well as permission to remain in the UK until the end of your programnme)
- The amount of money they will pay towards your fees and monthly living costs. Alternatively, your sponsor should state on the letter that they will cover all tuition fees and living costs.
- Official stamp of the organisation
If your sponsor has indicated that you are due to return to your Home Country by a certain date, this may reduce the length of visa extension given to below that which you would normally expect.
If your scholarship only provides some of the finances required, or only covers some of the study period you will be required to provide additional evidence of having the required funds available, such as your own bank statement. Please discuss with ISA if you are unsure about this.
Previous financial sponsorship
If you are no longer receiving funding in the UK, but have done so in the last 12 months, your official financial sponsor must still include a statement giving their consent to you remaining in the UK. If they do not give this permission then your application will be refused. This does not apply to funding you have received from the University.
Other acceptable finance documents
There are a number of other documents that the Home Office will accept as proof of funds. For a full list, or for further information on any of the methods mentioned above, please visit the Home Office website.
Applicants are now required to pay online using a credit or debit card before the application will be accepted by the Home Office. It is recommended that you contact your bank and inform them of this payment otherwise they may withhold the payment.
In addition to your current passport, you should also include your previous passport if it contains your current visa.
A BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) is the format which the Home Office uses to grant visa extensions. It is the size and shape of a credit card and has your photograph on the front. If you have one of these, you must include it with your application.
Evidence of Name Change
If you have changed your name you are required to provide official evidence of this with your application. The evidence must state your previous name, your new name and the date of change. Typical examples of documents used include deed poll certificates, passports containing both names, and government issued house hold registers.
Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) letter will be provided by Heriot-Watt University and will contain a unique CAS number, programme details (including programme dates and tuition fees), details of the qualifications the University has used to assess your admission on to your chosen study programme, and whether or not you require ATAS approval (see below).
If you have previously studied in the UK, before issuing a CAS the University will have to check that you are eligible for a Tier 4 Visa and may ask you to provide information about previous visas held in the UK. They will need to check that you are continuing to progress academically, and that you have not reached the maximum time period permitted. For further details please refer to the UKCISA time limits website.
Students studying certain postgraduate qualifications need to be granted approval by the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO). If you require an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) Certificate, this will be shown on your offer letter. You should apply for ATAS Clearance by visiting the FCO website. FCO aim to provide an ATAS certificate within 20 working days, however the wait can be significantly longer so you should apply as soon as possible.
For the purpose of your visa application, certificates are valid for six months and must still be valid at the point when a decision is made on your visa application.
All qualifications listed in your CAS letter need to be included with your application, such as degree certificates, transcripts and English Language test results. If they are not in English they need to be submitted along with official translations.
If you have previously studied in the UK on a Tier 4 visa (even if this isn't your current visa type) you must provide evidence that you successfully completed the programme that the Tier 4 visa was issued for.
English language documents
Not all students will be required to include English language documents with their visa application, this will depend how your English language was assessed by the University. This should be detailed on your CAS letter. Please check with ISA if you are not sure what the wording on your CAS means.
Students relying on evidence of an award which is equivalent to a Bachelors, Masters of PhD from a majority English speaking country as evidence of their language ability, will also need to include a ‘Statement of Comparability' from UK NARIC confirmation the assessment. This will be required if your CAS states ‘is SELT required – No' and ‘Reason not required – ‘holds degree from majority English speaking country'. Please allow 10-15 working days for your statement to be issued. You do not require NARIC confirmation if your degree was studied in the UK.
Police registration certificate
If you were required to register with the police when you came to the UK, you must send a copy of your Police Registration Certificate with your new application. After registration, it is important that you inform the police if you change your address, receive an extension to your visa, move to another institution or are issued with a new passport. It is important that your certificate is up to date when you make your new visa application.
Consent letter (for applicants under 18)
If you are under the age of 18, you must provide a consent letter from your parent or guardian confirming that they support your application. The letter should confirm that they consent to your Tier 4 Visa application, and that they approve of your UK living arrangements and your independent travel to the UK. It must also confirm their relationship to you. If one parent or guardian has legal custody or sole responsibility of you, the letter must confirm this and be signed by that parent or legal guardian. If not, then both parents/ legal guardians must give their consent and the letter must be signed by both parents/ legal guardians.
You will need to provide ypur birth certificate as evidence of the relationship.
Nationalities with different document requirements
Students who are applying for a Tier 4 visa using a passport from one of the countries listed in Appendix H of the immigration rules, are not required to provide evidence of their academic or financial documents with their visa application. However, these must be available should the UKVI request them. Failure to provide the requested documents would mean that the visa application would be refused. The documents must have met the requirements by the date you submitted the application, and not the date when the documents are requested.
If you are applying under these rules, you must confirm this in your Tier 4 application form when prompted.
All documents that are not in English should be officially translated and should always include the following:
- Details of the translator/translation company's credentials
- Confirmation that it is an accurate translation of the original document
- The translator/translation company's contact details
- Date of the translation
- Original signature of the translator or an authorised official of the translation company.
You can use any official translation company, but you may wish to look at the following companies:
Alpha Translations, 18 Haddington Place, Edinburgh, EH7 4AF
+44 (0)131 558 9003
Global Language Services, Belgrave Business Centre, 45 Frederick Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1EP
+44 (0) 131 220 0115
Current Process - optional from 05 November
When you have paid the application fee online, you will generate a letter informing you about enrolling your biometric details. You will have 15 days from the date of application to give a fingerprint scan and a digital facial photograph at a participating Post Office. The closest one to our Edinburgh Campus is in Princes Mall Shopping Centre on Princes Street. Unfortunately there are no participating branches in Galashiels, so students from our Scottish Borders Campus should also use this branch. Within the same timescale, all application documents must be posted to the UKVI.
Once your visa application has been considered by a caseworker, the Home Office will write to you notifying you of their decision (this is likely to be by e-mail). If the visa has been granted, you will be sent your visa and supporting documents in separate envelopes 7-10 working days after you receive the decision.
New Process - Mandatory from 29 November
The application fee and biometric enrolment fee will be combined and paid at the end of the online application form. You will book an appointment for all applicants at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service Centre (The closest one to Heriot Watt University will be in Glasgow).
During the appointment, your biometric information will be taken and you will upload your supporting documents (if you haven't already done so). You will retain your original documents but must not travel throughout the application process.
Once your visa application has been considered by a caseworker, the Home Office will write to you notifying you of their decision (this is likely to be by e-mail). If the visa has been granted, you will be sent your visa 7-10 working days after you receive the decision.