This page contains all the information you need to apply for a visa from outside the UK.

If you are applying from outside the UK for a Tier 4 student visa, you will be applying for an Entry Clearance visa. This visa will be a 30 day visa that will allow you to enter the UK. Once you are in the UK, you will need to collect your Tier 4 Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) visa.

Please note this page has general information regarding applying from outside of the UK for a Tier 4 Student Visa and should only be used as a guide. Read the Home Office Tier 4 Policy Guidance for the full requirements.

Apply for an entry clearance visa


1. Prepare to meet all the requirements and to get all the required documents ready to apply. It is important to prepare your finances as this is the main requirement that you need to do prepare in advance. If you are using a bank account, you need to show the total funds required for 28 days. Other financial documents may also take time to prepare, so start early. Also prepare how and when you are going to apply. It is also essential that you know the requirements and rules.

2. Get a CAS Statement from UEA. If you are required to have an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) Certificate, you must apply for this before you are able to get your CAS.

3. Complete the application form online. Apply online on the GOV.UK website

It is recommended that you use the Access UK website to apply - available from the GOV.UK website

You will need to do the following as part of the online application:

  • Pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS) and visa application fee
  • Select a UK postcode for collecting your Tier 4 Visa

We would highly recommend that you select the University of East Anglia as your alternative collection location (ACL). The code that you need to put in your application is 2HE564. This code will be listed on the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) that the University has issued and that you need to apply for your Tier 4 Visa. If you cannot or do not wish to collect your BRP at the University, you have the option of collecting your BRP at some selected Post Offices. If you decide to collect from the local Post Office, use the University of East Anglia address (post code NR4 7TJ) to locate the nearest post office.

  • State the intended date of travel for collection of your Tier 4 visa in the UK.

When you apply for your visa outside the UK you will be asked to provide an intended travel date.  We suggest that you choose a date 7 days before your course start date.

  • Select the location of your appointment
  • Print off your document checklist

4.  Submit your application and supporting documents. Follow the instructions carefully when you apply. You must submit all the original documents. Your original documents will be returned to you.

Remember if you are applying within the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme or the Differentiation Arrangements you will not need to submit all your supporting documents.

5.  Attend an interview appointment

All students applying for a Tier 4 visa will be required to attend an interview appointment, where you will also give your biometrics (a photograph and your fingerprints).

6.  Receive your visa and passport. Your visa will be in your passport. This is a 30-day visa that will allow you to travel to the UK and collect your Tier 4 Biometric Residence Permit card.

The vignette is proof only of your permission to enter the UK. You must travel during these 30 days and you will not be allowed to enter the country outside those dates (if for any reason you are unable to travel you’ll need to apply and pay for a vignette transfer for a new 30-day period).

Please note that you must never arrive in the UK earlier than 1 month before the start date of your course if you are studying a course for 6 months or more or a pre-sessional course (7 days if your course is less than 6 months).

Next steps after receiving your entry clearance


Check your Entry Clearance visa carefully. Make sure all the information on your visa is correct, including the spelling of your name and any dates. Check that the start date is on or before the date you plan on travelling to the UK.

If anything is wrong or incorrect on your visa, try to get it corrected immediately before you travel to the UK.

Remember this visa is only a 30 day visa that will allow you to travel and enter the UK. If you are not able to travel during the 30 days that the visa is valid for, you will need to apply again for a new 30 day visa (not a new Tier 4 visa). The 30 day visa is not your Tier 4 visa and you must collect your Tier 4 Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) visa after you arrive in the UK.

What is a BRP visa?


Biometric residence permits are issued to all those from outside the European Economic Area who are granted a visa to enter the UK for more than six months. A biometric residence permit (BRP) is a visa that looks like an identification card (ID) and holds your biographic details (name, date and place of birth), biometric information (facial image and fingerprints), and shows your immigration status and conditions while you are in the UK.

BRP visa collection


You need to collect your BRP within 10 days of arrival in the UK (or you may be subject to a financial penalty or cancellation of your leave). You can easily collect your BRP at the University during registration days or from the Student Visa and Compliance Office in the University.

You should endeavour to collect your BRP within 10 days of arrival in the UK or before your 30 day entry clearance visa expires (or you may be subject to a financial penalty or cancellation of your leave). If you cannot collect within 10 days of arriving you need to be sure that your 30 day entry clearance visa does not expire before the date that you are able to collect the BRP.

Find out more information on BRP collections, including maps of the different locations.

After you've collected your BRP visa


Check if you are required to register with the police after you arrive in the UK.

Check your new Tier 4 BRP visa to see if anything is not correct, including your expiry date. If you notice anything is incorrect you need to contact the Student Life (International) Team. We will try to get your visa corrected, however please note that there is a limited period of time after you collect your visa that it can be corrected, we may need to ask you to come in for an appointment.  Please note that you may be unable to travel while your BRP is corrected.

Student experiences


The University of Sheffield have commissioned the videos about applying for a Tier 4 visa in China and in India. These videos should help everyone, even if you are applying for a different country. Although the process might be different, it will help with your expectations of applying for a Tier 4 visa.




Entry clearance refusals


If your visa application is refused and you feel it was wrongly rejected, then you will need to contact us and we will ask you to send a scanned copy of the rejection letter from the Entry Clearance Officer. We will do our best to help and advise you accordingly. There is no full right of appeal, but if eligible, you can apply for an Administrative Review to try and overturn the decision. You must make your request within 28 days for the date you receive the refusal notice. The process is explained in the Policy Guidance. It is advised that you seek legal advice at this point.

It can be difficult to overturn a decision through an Administrative Review, because in most cases you cannot submit new or different documents. That is why it is very important to submit all the correct documents at the time of your application.

Warning: do not allow an agent or other representative to send off your application unless you have checked through the completed forms and all the documents that are enclosed with it. Errors made by an agent or representative, or attempts to deceive can result in you being banned from entering the UK for up to ten years.

Useful resources