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What is a Student visa?

The Student visa route (formerly known as Tier 4 (General) student visa) is a points-based visa system for all international students, including EU,  EEA and Swiss students, who want to study in the UK on a course lasting longer than six months. If you are unsure whether you need a student visa, you can check this on the GOV.UK website - check if you need a UK visa

The UK points-based immigration system requires that you score 70 points in order to be issued with a student visa. You need to score points in the following areas:


Relevant requirements to be met 

Number of points 

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)




English Language



What is a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)?

A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) is an electronic record sent to the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) by the University to confirm your personal details and details of your course at the University of East London.  

Please do not submit your Student visa application without a CAS number as it cannot be added to your application at a later date. 

You will be issued with a CAS by email once you have met your academic conditions, paid the required tuition fee deposit and passed the necessary Pre-CAS checks (if applicable to you). 

Length of Visa

The student visa will be granted to you as per the dates in your CAS letter, however you will be also granted a period of permission dependent on the type and length of the course you will be studying from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), as outlined in paragraph 25 of Appendix ST of the Immigration Rules that we have highlighted below:

Type of Course

Period granted before course start date

Period granted after course end date

A course of 12 months or longer

1 Month

4 Months

A course of 6 months or longer but shorter than 12 months

1 Month

2 Months

A pre-sessional course of less than 6 months

1 Month

1 Month

A course as a Postgraduate doctor or dentist

1 Month

1 Month

A course of less than 6 months in length which is not a pre-sessional course

7 days

7 days


Eligible programmes of study

The student visa route is mainly for full-time recognised UK degree level courses which leads to an approved qualification at Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) level 6 or above, though some part-time courses may be allowed. 

Part-time study on a student visa is only available for postgraduate courses at RQF level 7 or above. Studying part-time on the student visa route is subject to certain restrictions, such as: no work, no work placements, no dependants. 


Time limits for study

In general, there is a five-year time limit to stay in the UK. If your student visa extension would lead to you having spent more than five years in the UK, your student visa application will be refused. There are certain exceptions to this rule such as if you are planning to study Architecture; Medicine; Dentistry; Veterinary Medicine and Science; Music and certain law conversion courses. 

More information can be found under the 'Time limits for study' section in the Student route caseworker guidance - (www.gov.uk)

Academic progression

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have made it a requirement for sponsors to include a statement on a student's CAS confirming that the course of study for which the CAS has been assigned represents academic progression for any study previously undertaken in the UK on a student visa. This is a requirement whether you are applying for your visa from inside or outside the UK.

The International Admissions team will usually become aware of your previous UK based study when they read your application form and supporting documents. Further evidence and supporting statements may be requested from you to help assess whether the course you want to study represents academic progression.

If your previous study is at a lower level and you have successfully completed and passed that qualification, academic progression is justified automatically as you are progressing from a lower RQF level.

It is possible to study a course at the same RQF level. If your previous study is at the same RQF level, for example wanting to study a second Master's level qualification academic progression needs to be assessed. A justification statement will be required to prove the following:

  • The two courses are either (connected, part of the same subject group or the new course involves a deeper specialisation) or,
  • Both courses combined support your genuine career aspirations. 

Progression statements are not always accepted, so take time to work on a good statement that meets the above criteria when you are asked to provide one.

If you are wanting to apply for your student visa from inside the UK as well as the above, you will need to have also successfully completed your previous course, unless you are exempt from academic progression. 

You are exempt if either of the below applies:

  • You are extending your student visa to repeat modules
  • Completing a PhD,
  • Adding a work placement or study abroad year to your course; or,
  • To take a Student Union Sabbatical post

Credibility interviews

When deciding your application, the caseworker needs to be sure you are a genuine student and are coming to the UK to study. As part of your visa application, they may invite you to attend a 'credibility' interview via Skype, Microsoft Teams or at a visa application centre.

You need to prepare for the interview because if you do not pass the interview your visa application could be refused.

You may be asked about the following topics: 

  • Your previous studies 
  • Your reasons for choosing to study at the University of East London 
  • Your reasons for choosing to study your course 
  • Your reasons for wanting to study in the UK 
  • What you have been doing since you last studied
  • Your future and how your course will help you achieve your future plans. 

Not everyone will be asked to attend an interview as part of the visa application process. If you qualify for different documentary requirements, (please refer to our section 'Differentiation arrangements' on our Applying for a visa page for more information) you are unlikely to be interviewed.