Applying for your visa to study at Stirling

What is a visa?

 

A visa is an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in the UK.

If you are issued with a UK visa your passport will be endorsed with a paper sticker (called a "vignette").

A visa gives you permission to travel to and enter the UK for a specific purpose, and also states the conditions of your stay, for example:

  • The earliest date you can enter the UK
  • The date your permission to stay (visa) expires
  • Whether you can work in the UK and if so what restrictions apply
  • The sponsor licence number for the University (your sponsor)

The Home Office has introducing biometric residence permits (BRPs) for visa applicants who apply for permission to come to the UK to study for more than six months. Students will initially be issued a travel visa overseas, valid for one month, and a letter with instructions for collecting your BRP once you have arrived in the UK.

The BRP will give students permission to remain in the UK and confirm your conditions of stay, for example:

  • The date your permission to stay as a student expires
  • Any work permissions in the UK and if restrictions apply
  • The sponsor licence number for the University (your sponsor)

Do I need a visa?

 

Students who are nationals of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland do not need a visa to travel to the UK.

If you are a national of any other country you can check if you need a visa to study in the UK by checking the Do I Need a Visa section of the Home Office website.

If you plan to study in the UK for 6 months or longer, please continue reading the information on this page. 

See information if you are planning on studying in the UK for less than 6 months.

Studying in UK for more than six months

 

I will be studying in the UK for more than six months – what do I do now?

You will need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student visa under the Points Based System for immigration.  You MUST get a visa before you travel to the UK. If you travel without a visa you may be refused entry, regardless of what friends or other students have told you.

You should apply for the visa in the country where you are normally resident. It is important that you apply for your visa in good time and at least 15 working days before you plan to travel. It is not advisable to pay for flights until you have your visa.  

Please note that the visa application process may vary depending on your location. The information provided below is a general guide. You are strongly advised to follow the visa advice on the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) pages of the Home Office website.

As a general guide please follow these steps to apply for your visa:

Step 1: Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) is an electronic document which confirms for immigration purposes the details of our offer to you. Your CAS has a unique reference number. Undergraduate students should note that this number is NOT the same as your UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) number.

When you have accepted your offer of a place at Stirling we will send you information about how your CAS will be issued. You may be asked to pay a commitment fee (an advanced payment towards your tuition fees) before the CAS is issued.

When we issue the CAS we will send you a statement that contains the CAS reference number and a summary of the information included in the CAS.

You MUST check that the information on your CAS is accurate. In particular you should check that:

  • Your name is spelled correctly (as it is printed in your current passport)
  • Your date of birth, nationality and passport number are correct
  • Your course details are correct (including name of programme, start date, end date)
  • Any fees you have paid to the University have been included on the CAS

If you are receiving any bursary or a scholarship from the University of Stirling this should be included in the CAS – please let us know of any such awards so that we can include them on your CAS.

If you are a Pre-sessional applicant and the only outstanding condition for your degree programme is English Language (or if you are holding an Unconditional offer), we will automatically issue you with a joint Confirmation of Acceptance (CAS) which allows you to obtain one student visa to cover both programmes.

Step 2: Gather your supporting documents

When you apply for your visa you will need to show evidence that you meet the requirements for the visa.

Please refer to the following guide on supporting documents. If you have any questions about the documents you should submit please contact the Student Immigration Team at the University.

Step 3: Complete the application forms

You MUST apply online for a Tier 4 (General) student visa. The only exceptions are if you are applying from Cuba or North Korea.

Even if you are applying online you will need to complete the Student Self Assessment paper form.

Please refer to the guidance notes on the information required when completing the online Tier 4 application form.

Applications made outside the UK for entry clearance (a visa) for leave for more than 6 months are subject to the immigration health charge. This includes those applying under the extended student visitor route and those who on or after 24 April 2015 apply to study English language for over 6 months under the short-term student route.

When you are completing your visa application you will be asked questions to establish exactly how much you must pay. You must pay the health surcharge before you finish the visa application. You will be given a reference number once you have paid the surcharge and you will be asked for the reference number to complete your visa application. If the charge is not paid the application will be refused

When you complete the online visa application form you also will be guided through a series of general questions about your personal details, your family and your immigration history. It is important to provide full and accurate responses to all questions.

You will then pay the visa fee online. Payment can be made with most major credit cards (e.g. VISA, Mastercard etc.). Once you have paid the fee you will be able to make an appointment to submit your supporting documents to your nearest Visa Application Centre. 

Step 4: Submit the forms and supporting documents

You will now need to submit your supporting documents, and also complete biometric enrolment - this means giving your fingerprints and having a digital photograph taken.

The procedure for submitting your documents will depend on the country in which you are applying – you can check the services available at the Visa Application Centre in your country before you apply for your visa online. 

You may be required to undergo a health screening and submit the results along with your other documents. The Visa Application Centre in your country will give you more information about whether you need to do this and, if so, the procedure you need to follow.

Please note that you must submit your current passport along with the other application materials.

Applications made outside the UK for entry clearance (a visa) for leave for more than 6 months are subject to the immigration health charge. This includes those applying under the extended student visitor route and those who on or after 24 April 2015 apply to study English language for over 6 months under the short-term student route.

Step 5: Receive the visa

After your application has been submitted, it will be processed by UK Visas & Immigration staff. The decision making process normally takes 15 working days. If UKVI agree that you meet the visa requirements, your visa will be issued. It will be in the form of a vignette (sticker) in your passport.

When you receive the visa you should check that all the details are correct. Check in particular:

  1. Your personal details (name, date of birth, gender etc)
  2. The start and end dates of the visa
  3. The Sponsor Licence Number on the visa – this should be the same as the Sponsor License number given in your CAS statement.

If you notice a mistake, please contact the Visa Application Centre immediately and before you travel.

If your visa is refused, please contact the Student Immigration Team at the University immediately. 

Step 6: Travel to the UK

You will be able to use the visa to travel to the UK- you must arrive in the UK on or after the “valid from” date of your visa. DO NOT travel to the UK before the “valid from” date of your visa.

When travelling to the UK, you should carry in your hand luggage the qualifications and financial information you submitted with your visa application, along with any offer letters and other documents you have received from us about your studies. The UK border agents at the airport may ask you to show them some or all of these documents when you arrive.

The Home Office has introduced biometric residence permits (BRPs) for visa applicants who apply for permission to come to the UK to study for more than six months. Students will initially be issued a travel visa overseas, valid for one month, and a letter with instructions for collecting your BRP once you have arrived in the UK. You must collect your BRP within 10 days of arriving in the UK.

Please contact the Student Immigration Team at the University if you have any questions about the visa that you have been issued.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

When should I apply for my visa?

You can apply for your visa up to three months before the start of your programme of study.

You should make sure you have gathered all the supporting documents before applying for your visa. Applications can take longer to process in the summer when visa centres are busy. You should apply as early as possible. It is not advisable to purchase airline tickets until you have received your visa.

How long will my application take?

The standard processing time for a Tier 4 application is normally 15 working days. This usually depends on the office dealing with your application and how busy they are. You can check recent processing time statistics on the UKVI website.

The information on these pages offer a guide only – your application may be processed more quickly, or more slowly. If you have note received your visa within the published processing times, and you are going to miss your course start date, please contact the Student Immigration Team.

Can I pay extra to have the application completed quickly?

In some countries it may be possible to pay an extra fee to have your application dealt with more quickly. If this service is available it will be explained on the web pages for the Visa Application Centre in your country. It is usually listed as an “additional service”.

Please be very careful of agents in your country who promise to be able to get you a visa quicker than normal for additional fees.  The official visa fees and those for any additional services are clearly on show at every Visa Application Centre.

When will I be able to travel to the UK?

You must have your visa in your passport before you travel. You can travel on, or after, the valid from date given on your visa.

If you are coming to the UK for a pre-sessional programme of any length or a programme lasting more than six months, your visa can start up to one month before the start of the programme. However, you must clearly state your date of travel when you complete the online visa application form.

If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa for a non-presessional programme of less than six months (for example a one semester study abroad programme), the visa can start up to seven days before the start of the programme. However, you must clearly state your date of travel when you complete the online visa application form.

How long will my visa last?

Your visa or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) should be valid for the full length of your course. Normally, you will be given additional time at the end of your course. This varies depending on the level you have studied at and the duration of the course. Degree level students studying for 12 months or more will be given an additional 4 months.

I think there has been a mistake with my visa – what should I do?

If you notice the mistake before you travel, please contact your Visa Application Centre. If you notice after you have arrived in the UK, or have difficulty contacting the Visa Application Centre, please contact the Student Immigration Team.

I heard I can travel to the UK as a visitor without getting a visa – why can’t I do that?

People of some nationalities can travel to the UK as visitors without applying for a visa. However, entry as a visitor is intended for short term purposes, for example coming on holiday. You will be refused entry to the UK if you arrive to start a programme that lasts more than six months without an appropriate visa.

I am planning to fly via Dublin. Will this be a problem?

There is no routine passport control between Dublin and the UK. This means that you may not pass through passport control in the UK if you arrive from Dublin.  If you arrive from Dublin with a Tier 4 (General) visa you should keep your flight confirmation emails/papers about the Dublin-UK flight and carry them with you the next time you travel. You will have to leave the UK and re-enter within three months of arrival so that your Tier 4 (General) visa can be activated. This can obviously be costly so any savings made arriving in Dublin initially may be lost.

I have studied in the UK before. Will this affect my visa?

If you are currently in the UK on a Tier 4 visa and have completed a course at another institution please refer to the section on extending your stay.

If you are overseas and have completed courses of study in the UK previously, you should refer to the UKCISA website for further information on the time limits on study.  

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