Visas and immigration

This page gives you information and signposting to the things you'll need to know about gaining your visa and preparing for travel to the United Kingdom.

The University for the Creative Arts has the status of a Tier 4 Sponsor.

Tier 4 Sponsor status recognises sponsors who show a good history of compliance with their sponsor duties and whose students comply with the terms of their visa or permission to stay in the UK.

The Points Based System (PBS) was designed by the UK government and is the means of regulating immigration to the United Kingdom from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). The scheme is administered by the UK Visa & Immigration (UKV&I). The PBS consists of five separate tiers, 1 through to 5. Tier 4 is the route used for migrants who want to study full time in the UK.

As Tier 4 Sponsor we are taking our obligations on immigration compliance seriously. The information outlined below should give you all the information you require to make an assessment of the process you need to follow from your country. 

  • How to apply for a Tier 4 student visa

    The process for applying for your student visa is slightly different, depending on whether you are applying for a new visa from your home country, already in the UK and need to change your visa, or renewing an existing visa.

    Who can apply

    You can apply for a Tier 4 (general) student visa to study in the UK if you are 16 years old (or over), and you:

    • Have been offered a place on a course
    • Can speak, read, write and understand English
    • Have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course - this will vary depending on your circumstances
    • Are from a country that is not in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

    There are a few more requirements, which are set out in the UK Visas and Immigration website.

    When to apply

    Before you apply for your visa, you must know the date you are planning to enter the UK.

    You can apply for a visa up to three months before the start of your course. How long it takes to process depends on where you are applying from, but you should get a decision within three weeks. Check visa processing times for your country.

    If you are applying for a new visa from within the UK, you must make sure that the start date of your new course (as given on your CAS letter) is less than 28 days from the end of your current visa. If your current visa expires before this, you will need to leave the UK and apply from your home country.

    Applying from your home country

    If you are applying for a new visa from your home country, this is how the process works.

    1. Fill in the online application form and pay the correct fee.
    2. Print out your completed application form and cover sheet.
    3. Book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC)(if required).
    4. Attend the VAC.
    5. Provide your biometric data and attend a credibility interview if required.
    6. Submit your signed application form, supporting documents and passport, either at the VAC or by post.
    7. Your visa is granted or refused. If it is refused, please contact our International Admissions team.
    8. Your documents and passport are returned.
    9. Check that all the details on your visa are correct.
    10. Travel to the UK on or after the 'valid from' date on your visa. 

    If you are applying from Cuba or North Korea you will need to use a printed application form, rather than applying online. You will then pay your fees at the Visa Application Centre. The rest of the process is the same.

    You can print out the VAF9 form and guidance notes from the UK Visas and Immigration website.

    Applying from within the UK

    If you are already in the UK and need to extend your existing visa, or change to a Tier 4 student visa, you must apply before your current visa expires. If you are switching to a Tier 4 visa, you can only apply if your current visa falls into one of the following categories.

    • Tier 4 (General) Student
    • Tier 4 (Child) Student
    • Tier 1 (Post-study Work) Migrant
    • Tier 2 Migrant
    • Prospective Student

    We recommend that you speak to one of our specialist advisers. They can check your online application form and supporting documents, send your documents to UK Visas and Immigration (UKV&I), track the progress of your application and take secure delivery of your returned passport and new visa.

    This is how the process works.

    1. Create an online account with UKV&I.
    2. Complete the online self-assessment form and application form.
    3. Collect all your documents to support your application.
    4. Make an appointment to meet with a specialist adviser, taking with you all your supporting documents and a copy of your CAS letter or email. They will check your application and advise you about anything else you need.
    5. At the appointment, complete your online application and pay the application fee.
    6. The adviser will print out the cover sheet for your application and post your supporting documents to the UKV&I office.
    7. Once you have provided your biometric data, your application will be considered by a caseworker.
    8. Your documents and new visa (on a Biometric Residence Permit) will be returned to the specialist adviser. They will ask you to collect it from them. If, for any reason, your visa is returned to you directly, please bring it to the Campus Registry as soon as you receive it so that we can take a copy.

     

    You can also apply for your visa in person. The process is slightly different, but gets things done quicker.

    1. Complete steps 1 to 5 as above.
    2. Book an appointment online to take your application and supporting documents to a UK Visas and Immigration Public Enquiry Office. The specialist adviser will then print out the cover sheet for you.
    3. Attend your appointment and provide your biometric data.
    4. You should receive a letter on the day of your appointment which confirms the outcome of your application.
    5. Your new visa (on a Biometric Residence Permit) will be returned to the specialist adviser. They will ask you to collect it from them. If, for any reason, your visa is returned to you directly, please bring it to the Campus Registry as soon as you receive it so that we can take a copy.

    How much it costs

    Depending on what you are applying for, you will need to pay the following fees.

    • Applying for a new visa (from outside the UK): £322
    • Extending or switching by post (from in the UK): £439
    • Extending or switching in person – premium service (from in the UK): £839.

    You will also need to pay the following fees for any dependants.

    • Applying for a new visa (from outside the UK): £322 each person
    • Extending or switching by post (from in the UK): £439 each person
    • Extending or switching in person – premium service (from in the UK): £839 each person.

     

    More information about student visas

    You can find more information about applying for your student visa on the UK Visas and Immigration website

  • Documents you must provide

    When you apply for your Tier 4 student visa, you need to include all the documents listed in your application form and guidance notes.

    We advise that you take a copy of all your documents and print out your application form before you send them. Keep these copies for your records in case there are any problems with your application.

    You must include the following documents as evidence.

    • Cover sheet - confirmation of visa application being submitted
    • Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) 
    • Passport
    • Biometric Residence Permit (if you have previously lived in the UK and have been issued with a BRP)
    • Two passport photos
    • Police registration certificate (if applicable)
    • Tuberculosis certificate (if applicable). Please check if you are required to have this certificate.
    • Evidence confirming you have enough money (unless you are a ‘low-risk student’)
    • Evidence of any official financial sponsorship or consent to complete studies (if applicable)
    • Original certificate or transcript of previous studies as mentioned in the 'Evidence used to obtain' section of your CAS
    • Certificate of English language qualification (only if an English test has been stated in the 'Evidence used to obtain' section of your CAS)
    • Marriage certificate (if your spouse is applying as your dependant at the same time)
    • Birth certificates including official translation (if you are using parents or guardian's bank statement or have children applying as your dependants at the same time)
    • Letter from your parents if they are supporting you financially
    • Original paper receipt showing any tuition fee payments that you have made that are not recorded on your CAS.

     

    Specific requirements

    If your application includes any documents which are not in English (or Welsh), you must also include an original translation of each document. Each translation must contain:

    • Confirmation from the translator or translation company that it is an accurate translation of the original document
    • The date of the translation
    • The full name and original signature of the translator, or of an authorised official of the translation company
    • The contact details of the translator or translation company;

     

    Low-risk students

    Depending on the country you are applying from, you may not need to provide evidence of your qualifications or your money. The UK Visas and Immigration office calls this the ‘differentiation arrangement for low-risk students’.

    Low-risk countries include:

    • Argentina
    • Australia
    • Barbados
    • Botswana
    • Brunei
    • Canada
    • Chile
    • Hong Kong
    • Japan
    • Malaysia
    • New Zealand
    • Oman
    • Qatar
    • Singapore
    • South Korea
    • Taiwan (for those who hold a passport issued by Taiwan, that includes their ID card number)
    • Trinidad & Tobago
    • United Arab Emirates
    • United States of America
    • British National Overseas.

    More information

    You can find more information about applying for your student visa on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

    Before you can apply for your Tier 4 student visa, you need to have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number from us. This is proof that you have been accepted onto a specific course at a specific university in the UK.

    We will give this to you once the following things have happened.

    • We have offered you an unconditional place on a course.
    • You have firmly accepted the offer.
    • You have paid your £2,500 tuition fee deposit.
    • You have provided us with the supporting documents we need.

    Supporting documents for your CAS

    Before we can issue your CAS, you must send us copies of specific supporting documents. We recommend that you scan your documents and email them to us. Do not send us any originals by post.

    The documents we need are:

    • Your passport photo page, any previous UK entry and exit clearance stamps or visas, and information about any previous study in the UK (name of course and date of study). If you have never studied in the UK before, please confirm this by email.
    • Your highest academic qualification - certificate and transcript.
    • Your English language qualification (such as your IELTS certificate).
    • Your portfolio, if you submitted it as part of your application - even if you have received your offer by interview, we need a copy of your portfolio for our records.
    • The financial information you intend to use for your visa application (unless you are a low-risk student). If the terms and conditions of your financial statement are on the back of the document, please also send a copy of this page.
    • Details of any previous UK study, and copies of previous UK study visas.

    Getting your CAS number

    We will send you your CAS number by email along with details of the evidence that you have provided to get your place at UCA, for example, details of your highest academic qualification.

    You will need to enter your CAS number on your visa application. Your application will not be accepted without it.

    You must apply for your visa no more than six months after you receive the CAS.

    More information

    You can find more information about applying for your student visa on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

  • Financial requirements for your visa

    When you apply for your visa, you will need to give evidence that you have access to enough money to pay for both your tuition fees and your maintenance (living expenses) during your studies. 

    How much money do I need?

    You must prove that you have the funds to pay for your first year of tuition fees, minus any payments you have already made (such as a £2,500 tuition fee deposit). Check the tuition fees for this year.   

    As well as the money to pay for your tuition fees, you must also be able to prove that you can afford to pay your living expenses. 

    If you are going to study at our Epsom campus (inner London area) you will need £1,265 for each month of your course, up to a maximum of nine months. Therefore if your course lasts for nine months or more you will have to show £11,385.

    If you are going to study at one of our Farnham, Canterbury or Rochester campuses (Outer London area) the monthly amounts are lower: you need to have £1,015 for each month of your course, up to a maximum of £9,135 for a course lasting nine months or more.

    How do I prove that I have the funds?

    You will need to show evidence that you, your parent or legal guardian, or an official sponsor have the required funds.

    Evidence you can use includes:

    • personal bank or building society statements
    • a building society passbook
    • a certificate of deposit (a document issued by a bank which confirms an individual has deposited or invested a sum of money)
    • a letter from your bank, or a regulated financial institution, confirming your funds.

    You can find more information about what you need to provide as evidence in paragraph 188 of the UK Visas & Immigration Tier 4 guidance

    Here are a few things to remember.

    1. Funds must be in the form of cash held in your, your parent or your guardian’s account.
    2. Accounts or financial instruments such as shares, bonds, and pension funds are not acceptable.
    3. Evidence of funds held in a credit card account is not acceptable.
    4. A bank statement or letter is only valid only 31 days. You must submit your visa application within these 31 days otherwise it is likely to be refused.
    5. Your financial documents must show that the full amount of money that you need has been in the account for 28 consecutive days up to the date of the closing balance. This means that the account must not have dropped below the amount that you need to show at any time during the 28-day period. If it does, your visa is likely to be refused. Also, the final date of the 28-day period must not be more than 31 days old on the date that you submit your application.

    What if I have an official financial sponsor?

    An official financial sponsor is defined in the Tier 4 policy guidance as:

    • the UK government
    • your home government
    • the British Council
    • any international organisation
    • an international company (the Home Office has not defined 'international company' but it seems to mean a company with a trading presence (an office) in more than one country)
    • any university
    • an independent school.

    If you receive funding from any of these sources, you will need a letter from them confirming how much money they will contribute towards your course fees and maintenance.

    You can find more information about what information you need to provide in paragraph 180 of the UK Visas & Immigration Tier 4 guidance

     

    More information

    You can find more information about the financial requirements for your visa application on the following web pages.

    UK Council for International Student Affairs

    UK Visas & Immigration Tier 4 guidance

  • Your visa & biometric residence permit (BRP)

    30-day visa

    If your application to study in the UK is successful, you will be issued with a 30-day visa. This is issued as a sticker (vignette) in your passport. It allows you to enter the UK, but does not give you permission to stay.

    Your visa sticker is valid for 30 days only. If you do not travel to the UK within this time, your visa will expire and you will need to apply for another 30-day visa. You will have to pay a fee for this.                                 

    Biometric residence permit

    Your permission to stay in the UK is issued as a biometric residence permit (BRP). This is a plastic card, which contains your personal information, your biometric information (like photograph and fingerprints) and your immigration status and conditions.

    You can use your BRP to confirm your:

    • identity
    • right to study or work in the UK
    • right to any public services or benefits you’re entitled to.

    After you arrive in the UK you must collect your BRP within 10 days. You must collect it from the Post Office branch detailed in your decision letter. If you do not collect your BRP within 10 days of arrival in the UK, you may have to pay a penalty charge. The immigration office may also cancel your permission to stay.

    When you collect your BRP from the Post Office, it is important that you check that all the information is correct, such as:

    • Your name and date of birth
    • Your Tier 4 (General) student visa status
    • The correct Sponsor licence number
    • The start and end dates of your permission to stay
    • Whether you can work and how many hours a week
    • Whether you need to register with the police (if applicable)
    • Your national insurance number (if you have one)
    • Your eligibility for free NHS hospital treatment.

    Find out more about what a biometric residence permit is and what it can be used for.

    What to do if the information on your BRP is wrong

    You must check your permit carefully when you receive it, to make sure that all the details on it are correct. If you find a mistake, you must email BRPerror@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk within 10 working days of receiving the permit - otherwise you may be charged for a replacement and will have to apply again.

    What to do if you lose your BRP

    If your permit is lost or stolen, you must report the loss or theft to the UK Visas and Immigration office as soon as possible by e-mailing BRPlost@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

    You must also report the loss or theft to the police and obtain a police report and a crime reference number, as soon as possible.

    If your BRP is lost or stolen while you are in the UK, you must apply for another permit within three months of reporting the loss or theft of your original permit. This will cost you £45.

    If your permit is lost or stolen while you are outside the UK, you must apply for a replacement visa in order to re-enter the United Kingdom. You must then apply for a new BRP within one month of re-entering the UK.

    Find out more about getting a replacement BRP.

  • Immigration health surcharge

    What is the health surcharge?

    As part of your Tier 4 student visa application, you may need to pay a healthcare surcharge (called the ‘immigration health surcharge or IHS). This means that you will be entitled to receive free health services from the National Health Service (NHS) while you are in the UK. (You will still need to pay for certain types of services, such as prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests).

    You don’t have to pay the healthcare surcharge if you’re applying from outside the UK for a visitor visa or any visa that lasts six months or less. This means you will have to pay for any healthcare you get through the NHS at the point you use it.

    How much do I have to pay?

    The exact amount you have to pay depends on how much leave you are granted.

    As a student, you will have to pay £150 a year, plus £75 for part of a year that is less than six months. So a visa granting leave for three years and four months would cost £525.

    Dependants usually need to pay the same amount as you.

    You can use the immigration health surcharge tool on the UK Visas and Immigration website to check how much you will have to pay.

    When do I have to pay?

    If you apply for your visa online or through a premium service centre, you will pay the surcharge as part of your application or when you book an appointment.

    If you apply by post, you must pay the healthcare surcharge online before you send your application – you will need to include the IHS reference number on your application form.

    More information

    You can find more information about the immigration health surcharge on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

  • Your responsibilities & our duties

    When you get your Tier 4 student visa, there are some conditions that you may have to meet, otherwise the UK Visas and Immigration office may withdraw your permission to stay.

    Registering with the police

    You may have to register with the police. If so, you must do this within seven days of your arrival.

    You will need to register with the police if:

    • Your visa is for longer than 6 months
    • You are 16 or older
    • You are from one of the following countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yemen.
    • You are in the UK and are changing to a visa which requires you to register.

    You do not need to register if:

    • You have dual nationality with a country that is not on the list above
    • You have permission to live permanently in the UK
    • You are a family member of an EEA citizen.

    Registering costs £34. You can pay at the police station. When you register, you should take with you:

    • your passport,
    • two passport-sized colour photographs
    • your biometric residence permit (BRP), if you have one
    • details of your course and place of study.

    If you do not register with the police, you could be fined £5,000 and put in prison for six months. Registering late can count against you next time you apply for a visa.

    Study and attendance

    We have a duty to report on your study and attendance to the UK Visas and Immigration office, so it is very important that you attend all your classes and lectures and submit your coursework when it is due. You are expected to:

    • Attend all lectures, tutorials, seminars, projects, examinations and enrolment as scheduled for your course of study
    • Achieve an attendance level of at least 80% throughout your course
    • Arrive for classes on time and stay for the duration of the session
    • Tell the Campus Registry office (by email or written note) if you are not able to attend your class for any reason
    • Tell the Campus Registry office (by completing an ‘authorised absence’ form) if you are ill or have an accident - we may ask you to provide evidence of the reason for your absence, for example a letter from your doctor
    • Tell the Campus Registry office about any other reason you will be absent from a class.

    We will grant compassionate leave where appropriate.

    You are not allowed to take holidays during term time under any circumstances.

    If you decide to leave your course early you must tell us immediately. If you are returning home or going to a different institution to study, please provide us with details so that we can notify the UK Visas and Immigration office.

    Your responsibilities

    It is important that you follow the immigration regulations during your stay in the UK. It is your responsibility to:

    • Provide us with a copy of your passport and visa
    • Provide us with up-to-date contact details in the UK – you can do this through the student portal (MyUCA)
    • Register for your course on time each academic year
    • Follow our procedures if you want to defer or suspend your studies or withdraw from your course
    • Return home if you defer or suspend your studies, withdraw from your course or your course is terminated
    • Act within the immigration rules if you change education provider – it is a criminal offence to register for studies at an institution other than the one shown on your visa. Students switching institutions need to make a new visa application as soon as a CAS is produced for them.
    • Act within the immigration rules if you change your course to a shorter course. If you applied for your current visa using a CAS, we will report the change to the UK Visas and Immigration office.

    If you do not keep to these conditions, you may be suspended or withdrawn from your course. You may also be breaking the terms of your visa.

    Our duties

    By law, we must report certain information to the UK Visas and Immigration office. This includes notifying them if:

    • You do not enrol on your course before the last day of the enrolment period    
    • You fail to attend a class or lecture, and we have not agreed to it
    • You do not submit work for a specific number of times, and we have not agreed to it
    • You defer, postpone or take a break from your studies for any reason
    • You change to a shorter course
    • You complete your studies early
    • You withdraw from your studies before you have finished your course.

    The UK Visas and Immigration office can end your immigration permission to stay early if they are notified of one of these issues.

    Find out more about these duties in Annex 1 of the UK Visas and Immigration office's Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

    More information

    You can find more information about the conditions of your student visa on the following web pages.

    UK Council for International Student Affairs

    UK Visas & Immigration Tier 4 guidance

  • Working while you are studying

    Working in the UK will help you develop your English language skills and make a great addition to your CV. It's also a great way to meet new people and experience another side of British life.

    If you have a Tier 4 student visa, you should find out about your entitlement to work in the UK before you look for a job. The UK immigration authorities treat work restrictions very seriously. They can refuse your application, or end your permission to stay in the UK, if you work too many hours or if you do work which you are not allowed to do.

    The UKCISA website gives you full information about this. But here is a summary.

    How much work you can do

    • If you are enrolled on a Bachelor’s degree course or higher (NQF 6, QCF 6, SCQF 6) you are allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week during term time.
    • If you are enrolled on a course below NQF level 6 you are allowed to work for up to 10 hours a week during term time.
    • During holiday periods there are no restrictions on how many hours you can work.
    • You cannot take a gap year and work full time in the UK. If you want to defer your studies for a year, you should leave the UK and come back when your studies start again.
    • If you complete your course and you apply to stay in the UK under another visa, you are allowed to work full-time until your application is decided.

    The type of work you cannot do

    • You must not work in a full-time permanent role.
    • You must not be self-employed.
    • You must not work as a professional sportspersons, coach or entertainer.

    Getting the balance right

    While your visa may allow you to work up to 20 hours a week, to get the right balance of work/study/social life, we recommend that you only take on part-time work for a maximum of 15 hours a week. 

    More information

    We have a specialist international student support team working in our campus libraries. They are trained to help and advise you on working during your studies, as well as things like visa issues, finances, healthcare and registration.

    Our careers service can also advise you on finding a part-time job.

  • Other types of visa

    Short-term study visa

    This visa is suitable for you if you are studying a short course, on exchange, or on an English language programme.

    You can apply for a short-term study visa if:

    • You are doing a short course of study in the UK
    • You are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
    • You meet the other eligibility requirements.

    With this visa you can:

    • Do a short course of study in the UK, such as an English language course or a training course
    • Do a short period of research as part of a degree course if you are studying abroad

    You cannot:

    • Study at a state school
    • Work (including on a work placement or work experience) or carry out any business
    • Extend this visa
    • Bring family members (‘dependants’) with you - they must apply separately
    • Get public funds.

    You can stay in the UK for:

    • 6 months – for any short course (including English language courses), or short period of research if you are 18 or over
    • 11 months – if you are 18 or over and taking an English language course.

    Find out more about the short-term study visa.

    Schengen visa

    A Schengen visa allows you to visit certain countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) (and Switzerland) and to travel between these countries using only one visa.  

    A Schengen visa is very useful if you plan to travel around Europe during or after your studies.

    Find out more about the Schengen visa

    Please contact our Specialist Advisers at the Library if you need to apply for Schengen Visa.

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