Making a Tier 4 visa application from outside of the UK can be complicated. We've put together all of the information you'll need to make the process as easy as possible for you.

The information on these pages is designed for applicants and students who are starting a new programme and will be applying for a UK visa from overseas.

If you are an existing student and are making a Tier 4 visa extension, or intend to apply for your visa from within the UK, please see our separate guidance on Tier 4 visa extensions.

The application process

  • You can submit your visa application up to three months before your programme starts
  • You will need to go to your local Visa Application Centre to submit your documents. Please be aware that some countries do not have a Visa Application Centre, so your closest one may be abroad
  • At the Visa Application Centre you will have your fingerprints and photograph taken, and possibly undertake an interview. Please see our guidance about preparing for your visa interview
  • Before you submit your Tier 4 visa application, you should read the UKVI Tier 4 policy guidance and ensure you understand what you need to do
  • The visa application form is completed online
  • During the application process, you will pay the application fee. You can check the visa application fee online
  • If you have any queries about your visa application, you can contact UKVI, but there is a charge for this service

Processing times for visa applications

You can check processing times for visa applications from your country online. Please note that this information is only a guide and you should always allow plenty of time for your visa application.

In some countries you may be able to make a priority visa application, which will speed up the processing time if you are in a hurry. This is called a 'Value Added Service'. Not all Visa Application centres will offer a priority service; please check the services offered at your local Visa Application Centre before you apply.

Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge

All Tier 4 visa applications for a programme which is more than 6 months long will have an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). This is for access to NHS healthcare whilst you are in the UK.

You will pay the Immigration Health Surcharge during the application process. For more details, please refer to the UKVI information about the immigration health surcharge.

Take a tuberculosis test

If you're coming to the UK for more than 6 months and are resident in one of the countries which require a TB test, you may need to take a tuberculosis (TB) test.

Once you have had your TB test, if it is clear, you will be given a certificate which can be used to support your Tier 4 visa application. This certificate is valid for 6 months.

Unfortunately, you will be unable to make your Tier 4 visa application without this certificate.

Biometrics

As part of the Tier 4 visa application process, you will provide your biometric data (fingerprints and photograph). This is sometimes known as 'biometric enrolment' by UKVI.

Your fingerprints and photograph will be digitally stored on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This is a card with your full visa duration on it. You can pick up your BRP when you arrive in the UK.

Getting your visa

Once your visa application is approved, you will be given a short visa in your passport. This is called a vignette and will allow you to enter the UK. It is usually valid for up to 30 days so you must make sure you enter the UK during this time.

After you have arrived, you will be able to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which is your actual visa and should be valid for the duration of your programme.

Dependants

If you wish to apply for a visa for your dependant(s) to come to the UK with you, please see our information about applying with dependants.

The information on this page is correct at the time of writing. Whilst we try to make sure the information we provide is accurate, immigration policy changes frequently. You should therefore always refer to the official gov.uk website to ensure that you have up-to-date information: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration