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Tier 4 (outside the UK)

Applying for your visa

    Additional to visa application fees, students applying for a Tier 4 visa outside the UK have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £300 per year of study if they are applying to study a course lasting 6 months or longer. Tier 4 dependants will also be required to pay the surcharge. The IHS surcharge is mandatory, even if you have medical insurance.

    Tier 4 applicants (and dependants) will be charged for each year of leave (visa) granted under the immigration rules. If your leave includes part of a year that is 6 months or less, the amount payable for this part of a year will be £150 for students and dependants. If your leave includes part of a year longer than 6 months, the full annual amount of £300 is payable.

    The surcharge for the full length of leave will be required at the time of the visa application and will be in addition to the visa application fee. For example, if you are to receive a visa valid for 3 years and 2 months, then you are liable to pay £1050 in IHS surcharge at the same time as your visa application fee (£300 for each of the three years + £150 for the part year of less than 6 months). This surcharge will entitle you to use the NHS in the same way as a permanent resident for the length of your valid stay in the UK. You will generally receive NHS care for free but may be charged for some services, such as dental treatment and prescription charges, in the same way as a permanent resident.

    You must pay the surcharge in full before you submit your visa application. 

    If you are refused a visa, the surcharge will automatically be refunded. However if your visa is issued but you decide not to travel, the surcharge will not be refunded. You will not receive a refund if you leave the UK before your visa expiry or if you do not use the NHS.

    For further details and to check how much you need to pay for the IHS, please refer to the UK Government website. You will pay the IHS as part of your visa application. 

    Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

    See our Guide to Credibility Interviews for Tier 4 Students

    As part of the Tier 4 student visa application process it is likely that you will be asked to undertake a short 'credibility interview'. This was initially introduced in October 2013, with a significant increase in the number of applicants undergoing interviews in August 2014.  UK Visas & Immigration will be verifying that you can speak English to required level, and whether you are a genuine student.

    The interview may be facilitated by a UK Visa and Immigration partner agency and will normally take place be via video-conferencing with the Home Office staff in the UK. The interview may be situated some distance from where you live, so you may be required to travel. It will take approximately 10 minutes.

    The purpose of the interview is to check your credibility as a genuine student. You may be asked about the following areas:

    • your reasons for deciding to study in the UK and the benefits you believe this will give you;
    • your studies in the UK so far, including location, content of the course so far and current application for further study;
    • the reasons for selecting your chosen course, including the content of the course, and how this relates to your previous qualifications,  experience and career plans post-study;
    • other Universities or Colleges that you may have researched as part of your selection for this course. If you only considered the University of East London, you will need to explain why you believed this was the most suitable choice for you;
    • your reasons for choosing to study this course at the University of East London;
    • who is funding your studies in the UK and the reasons for this;
    • understanding the conditions of a Tier 4 visa;
    • if you are applying with dependents, about the legitimacy of your relationship.

    The interview will also assess that you are able to communicate clearly and that your English Language oral (speaking and listening) proficiency is sufficient to study in the UK. It is therefore important that you speak clearly providing full information to the questions you are asked.

    Top Tips:

    1)      Give full answers to explain your situation in detail

    The interviewer will not have access to your visa application form, or any other information about you. This means that you have to explain your answers fully – do not assume that the interviewer already knows about your situation. For example, if you have studied with a UEL partner before, you will need to tell them this as they would not already know.

    2)      Answer as naturally as you can, as though you are chatting to a fellow student

    Some questions are only asked to check your English language fluency, there is no right or wrong answer. Questions may include where you have travelled to before, or other topics not related to your course of study.

    3)      If you are genuinely planning to study, the interviewer is not trying to catch you out!

    The purpose of the interview is to check that you can demonstrate in conversational English that you genuinely want to study at UEL. The decision as to whether to grant or refuse your visa application is not made by the person interviewing you – the transcript forms a part of the information used to assess your application. The interviewer is unlikely to have detailed prior knowledge of your country and will not have prior knowledge of your plans, motivations and experiences, so if it is relevant to the question – tell them about it!

    4)      Prepare for the interview well, but do not rehearse specific answers

    To help you prepare, think fully about why you are choosing to study your programme at UEL, and the questions listed above. However, part of the purpose of the interview is to check you can speak English naturally, so do not give fully rehearsed pre-prepared answers. If you have any friends, family or colleagues who speak English, talk with them in detail about your plans and motivations for study in the UK – this is the kind of conversation you will have in your interview. It might also help to watch British films to get accustomed to the accent!

    A report of this interview will be sent to the UK Visas and Immigration case worker, who will consider it alongside your visa application and supporting documents. You may be called for a further interview if the caseworker needs more information.

    After the interview, try writing down everything you were asked and how you answered. This can be very useful if there is a query at a later date.

    Credibility interviews

    • Check the Tier 4 rules and requirements
    • Start preparing your application early (around 3 months before your course starts if possible). Do not leave it to the last minute. This is because you will need to collect a number of documents and also early applications allow time to resolve any problems in case of returned or refused applications.
    • Read the policy guidance, guidance notes, application forms and Home Office website carefully
    • Collect together all the necessary documents (* see Documents section above)
    • Take photos in line with the Home Office photo guidance
    • Email to clarify any doubts or ask specific questions
    • Pay the appropriate fee
    • Write a list of documents that you are submitting with your application
    • Submit the completed application and all supporting documents (and copies if required)
    • Photocopy everything for your records
    • Arrange and attend your biometric appointment
    • Arrange and attend your credibility interview (if required)

    Advice for making a successful application

    The guidance for Tier 4 (General) states that successful applications should be granted until the expected completion date of the course (as stated on your university record and CAS at the time of application) and some additional time depending on the length and type of course.

    • Courses of one year or more - expected end date of the course + four months.
    • Pre-sessional / Pre Masters course - expected end date of the course + one month.
    • Other courses less than 12 months but more than 6 months - end of course + 2 months
    • Short courses of less than 6 months - end of course + 7 days

    You may also be granted additional time before the course start date (if you apply with sufficient time)

    • Courses of longer than 6 months - one month before the start date of the course, or 7 days before your intended travel date, whichever is later
    • Pre-Sessional English Courses of any length - one month before the start date of the course,or 7 days before your intended travel date, whichever is later
    • Other courses of less than 6 months - seven days before the start of the course

    Note: If you think that you have not received the correct length of time on your visa (end date on your CAS + extra time as above), contact the issuing Embassy or High Commission to request that this is corrected. If you discover that any of the details on your visa are incorrect after arriving in the UK, we may be able to assist you with a correction request. Contact us at

    The time spent on study at degree level by Tier 4 (General) Students is limited to five years, with some exceptions, as follows;

    • 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. This does not normally apply if you take longer than expected to complete your course, for example to undertake re-sits.

    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.

    Length of time on visa

    When you are issued with your Tier 4 visa - always check that all the details are correct. In particular check that the following are correct:

    • Your name
    • Your date of birth
    • Your passport number
    • The start date
    • The end date
    • UEL's sponsor Licence number
    • Requirement to register with the police - this is stated
    • Working conditions

    If any of these details are incorrect, you should contact the issuing embassy or high commission to request a correction.

    Errors on visa