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Tier 4 (outside the UK)

Application fee and process

    Applications for a Student Visa to the UK under Tier 4 (General) must be made online.


    Application process

    If you want to apply for a Tier 4 General visa to study at UEL, you should prepare as early as possible. This is because the application process can sometimes take a long time. It is important that you make the necessary arrangements to arrive in the UK to begin your programme on the start date outlined on your offer letter and CAS. In exceptional circumstances, the University will allow you to enrol up until the latest date of enrolment, as outlined on your CAS, but starting your studies after the official start date may mean that you miss the welcome programme, School induction and the beginning of your classes. You would also be expected to catch up with any classes you have missed.

    Please note, UEL cannot permit students to join their programme of study later than the latest enrolment date as stated on the CAS.

    New Students:

    • Complete the admissions process to UEL. For more information on applying to UEL see the International Admissions process
    • Once you have completed the admissions and pre-CAS process, a CAS will be issued and a summary will be sent to you by email

    Continuing Students:

    • If you are continuing your studies without any break (except official vacation periods), you can apply up to three months before your visa expires, providing you meet the Tier 4 requirements.
    • If you are planning to continue your studies after a break in studies, you can apply up to three months before your return to studies, providing you meet the Tier 4 requirements.

    All Students:

    • Begin preparing your maintenance (finances) at least two months prior to application.
    • Apply for the Tier 4 visa as soon as possible before the start date of your programme, we recommend 2 - 3 months before your start date.
    • Arrange and attend an appointment to provide your biometric data.
    • Your visa will be issued a maximum of one month before the start date of your programme of study for most undergraduate, postgraduate and pre-sessional English or one week before for other types of course or shorter programmes.
    You can also apply for an extension in your home country to continue a programme at UEL that you have already started or if you are moving from one programme to another.

    The UK Visas & Immigration website provides an approximation of visa processing times - this can vary considerably throughout the year and in different countries around the world. It is therefore important to check the processing times for the city where you are applying to ensure that you are well prepared.

    When to apply?

    As part of the application process for a Tier 4 student visa you will need to attend a biometric appointment at the Visa Application centre or British Embassy/ Consulate to:

    • provide a digital scan of your fingerprints and 
    • have a digital photograph taken.

    This process is known as biometric enrolment or biometric data collection. If you apply online you must also make an appointment to provide your biometric data.

    More information on the biometrics procedure on the UK Government website.


    If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa from outside the UK you will be issued with a vignette in your passport. If you are applying for leave for more than 6 months, your vignette will be valid for 30 days and you will need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) containing your full grant of leave from the Post Office within 10 days of arriving in the UK.

    If you will be studying on the Docklands Campus, the nearest participating Post Office is in Beckton. 

    If you want to collect it from this Post Office but it is not your assigned Post Office, then you can input the postcode: E6 5LX in the ‘Alternative Address Postcode’ field on the visa application form.

    If you will be studying on the Stratford Campus, when you enter the postcode for UEL, the nearest participating Post Office in Stratford should be your assigned Post Office.

    If you will be living off-campus and you already know the address where you will be living, then you can choose either the participating Post Office near the university or the one near your home.

    **Please check your BRP card carefully when you receive it. If there are any errors on your card, please see Home Office guidance and contact ISA **

    You will also be issued with a letter when your vignette is issued overseas. It will tell you where and when you can collect the BRP. You should carry this letter in your hand luggage when you travel to the UK and show it, when requested, to the Border Force Officer. You will also need to take this to the Post Office with you when you collect your BRP.

    Note: If you do not travel to the UK within the 30 day validity of your Entry Clearance, you will need to apply for a new Entry Clearance.

    You should contact ISA immediately for advice if you lose your passport before you can collect your BRP card, if your BRP card is lost or stolen or if your personal details change.

    You can find further guidance about BRP cards here.

    Entry Clearance and Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

    The amount of time you can study at degree level (RQF level 6 or above) on a Tier 4 or Student visa is limited to five years.*

    When calculating the five-year limit, all time issued to you on a Tier 4 visa or pre-Tier 4 visa student visa, will be taken into account, regardless of whether you were in the UK or outside the UK during that time (unless the visa was curtailed)

    There are some exceptions. 

    • Architecture students
    • Law conversion courses
    • PhD and other some other Doctorate students**
    • Students whose UG course was 4 or 5 years in duration who are now applying for a Masters course. NB; this does not normally apply if you take longer than expected to complete your course, for example to undertake re-sits.

    **PhD students and applicants: You are exempt from the time limit while you study for your PhD. However, you will not be granted any further leave under Tier 4 once you have completed your PhD if this further grant of leave would result in you spending more than eight years in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) student.

    Note: There are some concessions available in the Tier 4 policy guidance which in some cases may allow up to 5 years and 11 months as a limit

    Note: Studies below degree level have a different time limit of 2 years.

    If you are unclear as to whether this applies to you, please email

    Limit to time spent in the UK with Tier 4 leave