Study Abroad in the United Kingdom
Tier 4 Student Visa Information
Return to the main United Kingdom visa page
Read through all of the information below before beginning the visa application process. Please note that the most up-to-date instructions can be found on the website of the UK Border Agency at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/studying/adult-students/.
- Do not begin your online visa application until you have received your visa pack and documentation from Arcadia.
- You will need around 20-30 minutes to complete the online portion of the visa application. This portion of the visa process is known as the application for "entry clearance."
- You will need to use a MasterCard or Visa to pay the application and postage fees. The application fee is £298 (around US$492 as of April 2013). It is essential that you remember to pay the postage fee and select "By Mail" where prompted.
- You will need to print a copy of your completed online entry clearance application and your biometrics appointment confirmation.
- You will be prompted to choose a password to access your documentation; remember to note this somewhere.
Applying for Your Visa
In order to apply for your visa, you will need to include important immigration documentation. This documentation includes your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number. Before applying for your visa, you will need to make sure you have received your CAS number. This is number is issued by your overseas university (or by Arcadia University for certain programs).
Your visa application will not be approved without a CAS number. Depending on the university you will be attending in the UK, this number will be sent to you either via mail or via email. Your program manager will communicate with you via email about this process, so it is important to check your email regularly.
To begin the visa application process, go to www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk/ApplyNow.aspx. Be sure to read all information on this page and then select "Continue." As you begin the application, you will be prompted to select the purpose and type of application from drop-down menus. You should indicate the following:
- Purpose: PBS Tier 4 Student
- Type: Tier 4 (General) Student
In preparation, you should note that the application requires the following information:
- Your parents' dates and places of birth
- Approximate dates and reasons for previous international travel
As you complete the online application, you will be prompted to schedule a biometrics appointment at a US Customs and Immigration Services field office where you will have your fingerprints taken. It is advisable to schedule the earliest appointment available. Please visit the USCIS website for information on your nearest field office.
When you attend your biometrics appointment, you will need to bring your passport and the printed copy of your Booking Confirmation. (Remember to print this at the end of the online Entry Clearance application.)
At your appointment, you will have your fingers and thumbs digitally scanned and a digital photograph of you will be taken. At the conclusion of your appointment, your Booking Confirmation document will be stamped, signed and dated. The actual process should take five minutes or less if you don't have to wait.
In many instances, USCIS offices will allow you to have your biometrics data collected before your scheduled appointment as long as you have your passport and booking confirmation. (This is worth noting if you receive a late appointment.)
When you submit your application, you must include all of these materials (see below for information on how to submit your application):
- Your visa letter from your overseas university (or Arcadia University for certain programs) – includes your CAS number
- Your ACTUAL passport (it must be valid for six months from the end of your program).
- Two recent passport-sized photographs: These must adhere to UKBA guidelines which can be found on the UKBA website. 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 UKBA. (Many visa applications have been denied in the past because the photos were submitted incorrectly. Please follow this guidance very carefully.)
- Print out of your online entry clearance application.
- Your stamped biometrics Appointment Booking Confirmation. (This should be stamped at your appointment.)
- Completed PBS Appendix 8: Tier 4 (General) Student Self-Assessment. This form should be downloaded from http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/applicationforms/visas/vaf9-app81.pdf. You will receive guidance on how to complete this form from your program manager.
- Letter of support from Arcadia University (sent via certified mail) – not required for London Internship and London Now students.
- Maintenance funds: All applicants for the Tier 4 Student Visa will need to confirm that they have enough money to cover their living costs for the duration of their program (between £800 and £1000 per month depending on your program, minus up to £1000 total of accommodation fees paid to Arcadia).
- Students from countries considered to be “low risk” (including US citizens) who are applying for their visa from within their country of nationality do not need to provide documentary Evidence of Funds. You will need to confirm that you meet the maintenance requirements and that you have access to the evidence required in the unlikely event that it be requested, however you should not include this evidence with your visa application. (For information on whether or not the UKBA considers your country to be "low risk", please visit the UKBA website here.)
- Students from countries that are not considered “low risk” (or those from “low risk” countries that are applying from outside their country of nationality) will need to provide original documentary Evidence of Funds of the amount stated on your Immigration Documentation. You will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover expenses while in the UK. If you do not provide sufficient evidence, your visa application will be denied and you will need to reapply.
- It is important to read the official UKBA guidelines relating to evidence of maintenance funds which can be found here. Essentially, you will need to provide detailed information from a personal checking or savings account OR a joint account with your name on it OR your parents’ checking or savings account. If using your parents’ account, you will need to provide a letter of permission from your parents and evidence showing that you are related. See the UKBA website for further information.
- Students from countries that are not considered “low risk” (or those from “low risk” countries that are applying from outside their country of nationality) also need to provide an official hard copy of your academic transcript (please note that official electronic copies will not be accepted).
- Any Tier 4 Student Visa applicant who is a national of a non-majority English speaking country must provide original evidence that they meet the minimum English language requirement relevant to their course of study. For most students, this will mean providing a recent score report from an English language test.
The UKBA has published a list of approved English language tests, as well as the minimum grade required for each test. For more information, please contact your Program Manager.
In addition to the original documents you submit to the UKBA, you’ll need to provide a photocopy of: your visa letter (the letter that includes your CAS number), your transcript (if applicable), your bank statement/letter (if applicable) and your completed PBS Appendix 8: Tier 4 (General) Student Self-Assessment form. You should also make a photocopy of each document you submit to keep for your records.
The British Consulate in New York City advises to allow for 3-5 weeks processing time for Tier 4 Student Visa applications; however, if your application is in order, it will typically require less time. If you are applying from outside the U.S. the process may take longer.
Submitting Your Application Materials
After you have received your immigration documents from Arcadia, completed the online application, attended your biometrics appointment and gathered your required documents, you will need to submit your visa application materials. You have two options for submitting your materials:
- Priority Service offered through WorldBridge:
This service, which is available for an additional fee (costs $150 on top of visa processing fee), will significantly reduce the processing time for your visa application. In addition, WorldBridge will check your application and supporting documents and let you know if there are any errors or missing pieces before submitting your application to the UK Consulate. If you submit your application using the regular service (see below) and there are any errors with your application, your visa will likely be rejected and you will need to reapply (and repay the visa processing fee).
Priority Service applications will be processed ahead of other
applications. Under normal circumstances, priority service applications
will be processed within 48 hours (not including weekends or public
holidays) from day of receipt at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) visa
section in New York. You will mail you application and documents
directly to the UKBA visa section. You should use a trackable express
mailing service and mark the envelope in black ink PRIORITY so it is
easy to see and can be pulled from the general mail.
You can book the Priority Service by going to the Worldbridge website at http://www.visainfoservices.com/ and following the instructions under “Additional Services."
- Normal Service:
Once you have attended your biometrics appointment and have all of your documents in place, then simply mail the documents to the UKBA visa section in New York City. The mailing address will be provided upon completion of your initial online visa application. We strongly recommend using a trackable express mailing service (such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS Express Mail). Normal Service carries no surcharge and will typically take 3-5 weeks of processing time.
- These materials should promptly be sent to the UKBA visa section in New York City. (Remember that you will need to have paid the application and shipping fees.)
- Your passport and accompanying visa application materials should be sent by certified mail so that you can track it.
- Because you are required to send your application materials to the consulate within a specified period of time after completing your biometrics appointment, you should not begin the online application until you receive your visa pack or have been prompted by your program manager.
- The UK Border Agency recommends that students allow 3-5 weeks for applications to be processed. Processing often requires less time if all materials, application fees and shipping fees are properly organized and correctly submitted. The Priority Service provided by WorldBridge usually reduces processing time to two days.
- Any errors or omissions will hinder your visa application and possibly require you to apply again.
- Arcadia University will work to assist you throughout this process, but cannot accept responsibility for any visa applications that are delayed or rejected. Please read all instructions carefully and do not hesitate to contact your program manager if you have any questions.
- For the most up-to-date visa information and FAQ's, visit the UK Border Agency's website at http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/studying/adult-students/apply-outside-uk/.