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Applying for a student visa in your home country

If you are currently in your home country and need to apply for an entry clearance visa to come back to the UK to resume your studies e.g. to take re-sit examinations or after taking an interruption of study, then you will need to provide specific documents in order to make a successful application.

You can apply for an entry clearance visa up to three months before the start date of the course as shown on your CAS statement. Please note if the course start date on your CAS statement has passed when you apply, your application will be refused.

Useful resources

Before making your application for entry clearance as a student there are various information resources available to help you. It is advised that you read the Making a Tier 4 application guidance leaflet which has been produced by UKCISA: the UK Council for International Student Affairs.

You should also read the UKBA's information on applying for a student visa from outside the UK.

Step by step guide to applying for entry clearance

Step 1

Take time to read the web pages referred to above. They contain a lot of very detailed information about the application procedures and also about the documents that you must provide. If your documents do not exactly match the requirements as set out in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance, your application will be refused and you will have wasted your application fee and a lot of time.

Step 2

Find your country on the UKBA's country finder website to find out:

  • How to apply in your country;
  • The location of visa application centres;
  • How long it takes to process visa applications;
  • How documents will be returned

Step 3

Complete two application forms, both of which can be downloaded from the UKBA website:

  1. VAF9
  2. PBS Appendix 8 (General) student

Please note the forms will ask you how many points you are claiming. To qualify for a Tier 4 student visa you will need to have 40 points in total: 30 points for studying a course at an acceptable level with an approved education provider; and 10 points for having enough money (also known as the maintenance requirement) to cover both your course fees and your living expenses.

Step 4

Work out how much money you will need in order to meet the maintenance requirement and score the required 10 points. The information below explains whether you will fall in to the lower or higher maintenance category.

Lower maintenance category: You will fall in to the lower maintenance category and have to show that you have access to one year's tuition fees plus £1,600 (i.e. living expenses for two months) if you have a current Tier 4 student visa (i.e. it has not expired) and on the date of application you:

  • need to extend your stay in the UK to complete your current course, which you have been studying for at least 6 months; or
  • have an unconditional offer for a new course which starts within 1 month of the expiry date of your current visa and the course you have just finished was 6 months or longer.

Higher maintenance category: If you do not meet the criteria listed above, you will fall in to the higher maintenance category and must be able to show that you have access to one year's tuition fees plus living expenses of £800 per month for the length of your course, up to a maximum of 9 months (£7,200).

Step 5

Make sure you enclose all the required documents with your application. All documents except the CAS statement must be originals: scanned copies, faxes and emails are not acceptable. You should submit a photocopy of each document in addition to the original document itself. 

Below is a list of the required documentation. Please note however that Cardiff University accepts no legal responsibility for its accuracy. It is your responsibility to check the Tier 4 Policy Guidance to ensure that you have provided all the necessary documentation. You should also read the UKBA's supporting documents guidance- Tier 4 (General).

  • Current plus any previous passports; 
  • A recent passport sized photograph. This must meet the UKBA's strict guidance;
  • The visa fee of £298, which is non-refundable, and must normally be paid in the currency of the country where you are applying; 
  • A CAS statement from Cardiff University.CAS stands for Confirmation of Acceptance for Study. It is a virtual document similar to a database record. Each CAS has a unique reference number and contains information about your course and your personal details. You can request a CAS statement through SIMS. You will need to log in using your username and password and select the 'request CAS statement' option. If you need further assistance please contact Registry. Allow 5 working days to receive the CAS statement email. This will be sent to the email address held on SIMS. You must print this email and submit with your application.
  • All qualifications listed on your CAS statement (if applicable)- this will normally be the academic and English qualifications that the University took into account when deciding to accept you for the course which you are studying; 
  • Proof that you have enough money to meet the maintenance requirements. Please see our "Guide to extending your student visa"(pages 7-10) for full details about what documentation you will need to provide. This can be obtained in hard copy from the Student Support Centre (50 Park Place); 
  • Your biometric details, which you will have to provide in person. This will involve scans of all 10 fingers and a full-face digital photograph. The whole procedure should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. Your visa application will not be processed until you have met this requirement.
  • Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Certificate (if applicable); 
  • Tuberculosis Certificate (if applicable); 
  • Translations of any documents that are not in English. These must meet the strict UKBA requirements which are outlined in our "Guide to extending your student visa" (page 6) which can be obtained in hard copy from the Student Support Centre (50 Park Place).

Step 6

When you receive your visa you should check it carefully to make sure:

  • your name and date of birth are correct;
  • it says that you are a Tier 4 student;
  • it includes Cardiff University's sponsor licence number: NB0C74WCX;
  • it starts on or before the date that you want to travel to the UK;
  • it does not end sooner than you expect. When considering your application for entry clearance (a visa) the British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in your country should comply with the UKBA guidance on visa lengths, which you can access on our correct lengths of visa page.

If there is anything wrong with your visa, ask to have it changed immediately, before you travel. It is more difficult to make changes after you travel.