UK Tier 4 Student Visa Process - US Citizens Only
Back to the United Kingdom visa page
Congratulations again on your acceptance to study abroad in the UK with The College of Global Studies at Arcadia University. Now that you have confirmed your participation, the next step is to apply for your Tier 4 Student Visa.
Please read this entire page carefully as it contains very important information related to your visa.
CAS Number: You should have received a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) number, from your Program Manager or from your host institution in the UK.
If you have not yet received a CAS number, you cannot begin the visa application. Please contact your Program Manager before moving forward.
Visa Letter: Your Program Manager will be sending a visa letter via certified mail to your home address unless otherwise requested. When you receive this letter, please double check the personal details listed. If these do not match your actual passport, please let your Program Manager know immediately.
It is essential that you begin the visa application as soon as you receive your visa letter.
How to Apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa
Very briefly, there are 6 steps:
- Receive your CAS number and visa documentation
- Complete the online visa application (includes paying the visa fee online and making an appointment to have your biometric data taken)
- Attend your biometrics appointment
- Gather your application materials
- Mail all of your application materials and your passport to the UK Consulate
- Receive your visa
Details on how all of this works:
1. RECEIVE CAS NUMBER & VISA LETTER
Your CAS number has been provided for you, and a visa letter will be sent to your home address.
2. APPLY ONLINE
Please apply for your visa online as soon as possible. To begin the visa application process, visit the UK Visas & Immigration site. The UK Consulate recommends that you use Mozilla Firefox, as they've experienced some issues with other browsers. You will need to register for an account before you can begin the application.
Once you have registered you will need to select Apply For Myself and complete the Applicant Details section. When asked about your Location, please list your current location - i.e. the United States of America - not the location where you are going to study. You will need to "Select Visa Type" as follows:
Reason for Visit: Study
Visa Type: PBS Tier 4 Student
Visa Sub Type: Tier 4 (General) Student
Then hit "Create Application". Once your application is created, it will be stored in your account under "My Applications". Please be sure to save your application if you need to return to it later on to complete it.
There are six sections within the application, most of which are fairly straightforward. When asked, the main address and contact details of where you will be staying in the UK should be the main address for your overseas university. Please see your CAS statement/email for these details - or ask your Program Manager if you are unsure.
In the first section, Passport and Travel Information: For the question "Are you a national of the country in which you are applying?" you should answer Yes if you are a US citizen applying for your visa from within the US.
The fifth section, Tier 4 Student, is a bit more complicated and needs to be filled out in a particular way. Please complete this section using the cheat sheet provided by your Program Manager.
The Tier 4 Student Visa fee is £310 ($527 as of April 2014). Some of you may have difficulty using your debit card to pay the visa fee. Since the payment is being processed by an overseas company, your bank may automatically stop the charge before it goes through. If your payment is rejected, please contact your bank and ask them to allow the charge to go through.
3. ATTEND YOUR BIOMETRICS APPOINTMENT
As part of your online application you will be prompted to make a biometrics appointment at the nearest USCIS office. Please note that you may need to travel quite a ways to get to a USCIS office, depending on where you live. Most students are able to make an appointment within one to two weeks of submitting their online application. You must bring your passport and booking confirmation to your biometrics appointment.
The actual process of having your biometrics (fingerprints and a digital photo) taken should take about five minutes. It is generally possible to show up at the USCIS office at any time (as long as you have your passport and appointment booking confirmation) - regardless of when your actual appointment is scheduled.
(Just as an FYI: While the USCIS offices work with UK Visas & Immigration to collect the biometric data, they are in no other way involved in the visa application process, and they will not be able to answer any questions about the visa process.)
We strongly urge you to take care of your biometrics as soon as possible. It is not a good idea to postpone this. Please bear in mind that once you've had your biometric data collected, the UK Consulate in New York City must receive all of your application materials within two weeks.
4. GATHER YOUR APPLICATION MATERIALS
When you submit your visa application materials to the UK Consulate, you must include all of the following:
- Your passport - yes, you must include your actual, physical passport - as well as any old passports you have access to.
- A print out of your online visa application (If you have made any errors on your online application you can correct them on this print out.)
- Two identical passport-sized photographs that adhere to UKVI (UK Visas & Immigration) guidelines. (Please follow these guidelines closely. Most passport-style photos you can get in the US will be 2" x 2". You will need to trim these photos to match the dimensions required by the UKVI. This is actually very important, as we’ve had applications rejected for inaccurate photos.)
- Your stamped biometrics booking confirmation (You will print this after completing the online application and have it stamped at your appointment.)
- Self-addressed postage-paid express/courier return mail label and envelope so that your passport & visa can be returned to you. You should send an actual envelope and printed label - a hand-written label provided by the mailing service will not be accepted. You must use a trackable service such as UPS, FedEX, DHL or USPS Express - be sure to make a note of your tracking number. (We recommend using a 1-day or 2-day return service.)
- CAS Statement from your overseas university (does not apply to students on the following programs: Arcadia in Oxford, Edinburgh Internship, London Connect, London Internship, London Now, Pre-Health Semester/Summer in London, Scottish Heritage Management Internship, Scottish Studies, STEM Summer Research - Glasgow or London, SUNY Brockport Oxford Program)
- Visa letter from Arcadia University
5. MAIL YOUR PASSPORT & VISA APPLICATION MATERIALS
Once you’ve attended your biometrics appointment and assembled all the required materials, you will be ready to submit them.
Remember: You need to submit your visa materials to the UK Consulate no more than 2 weeks after your biometrics appointment.
We strongly suggest you use an express shipping service you can track, such as UPS, FedEx, etc., to submit your documents to the UK Consulate, and remember to make note of your tracking number.
You must send everything together in one package. Your documents should be sent to:
UK Visas & Immigration
845 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Once your visa application documents arrive at the UK Consulate, the processing time is typically 4 weeks.
Depending on when you have your application materials ready, you may want to consider using the Priority Visa Service offered by the UKVI through a company called VFS Global. Priority Service costs an extra £100 ($170 as of April 2014). These applications are processed ahead of other applications, and under normal circumstances, priority service applications will be processed within 3 business days (not including weekends, public holidays or postage time) from date of receipt at the UK Consulate.
You must contact your Program Manager before you submit your visa application and materials to the UK Consulate if you intend to use the Priority Visa Service.
Please note: The UK Consulate may contact you by phone for a "credibility interview". These interviews are done at random and should only take a few minutes. As a genuine applicant, you have nothing to be worried about. Please just answer the questions honestly and let your Program Manager know if you have any issues.
6. RECEIVE YOUR VISA
Once your visa has been issued, you will receive an email from the UKVI to let you know. They will then return your passport and other documents to you via the self-addressed return delivery service you have provided to them. Your visa is not a separate document, but rather a large sticker placed inside your passport. Please look at your visa carefully and make sure it is valid for the full duration of the program and let your Program Manager know right away if there are any errors.
When your visa arrives, please email your Program Manager to let them know.