10 steps to obtaining your student visa from overseas

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10-step student visa guide

Follow the steps below to apply for the Student route (formerly known as Tier 4) from outside the UK.

If you already have a Tier 4 or Student route visa and need to extend it, see our guide to extending your student visa in the UK.

If you are in the UK on a different type of visa and intend to switch to the Student route from within the UK, please contact our Visa and Immigration team on immigration-support@nottingham.ac.uk for advice.

We understand that your study and travel plans may be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and we've made some changes to our visa and enrolment processes to reflect this. Depending on where you're travelling from, you may need to self-isolate (quarantine) for 10 days after arriving in the UK. Read our arrival guidance for new international students for the latest updates.

Step 1 – Start preparing your financial evidence

You will be exempt from meeting the financial requirements if you have been living in the UK for 12 months or more with permission (a visa) at the time of your application, and are applying in the UK.

Anyone applying overseas, and those who are not exempt, will need evidence of funding for tuition fees and your living expenses, including accommodation. There are strict requirements for the amounts and forms of evidence accepted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). It's essential to get it right or your application will be rejected.

Students from certain countries which are classed as 'differentiated' (or 'low risk') by UKVI don't need to provide financial evidence or evidence of academic qualifications with their visa application, but you must still have this financial and academic evidence in the required format in case you are asked to submit evidence later. Check the UK government website for the list of countries this applies to.

Start planning your financial evidence early. If you or your parents will pay your fees, you will need bank statements showing you have held the required funds in your account for at least 28 days. The last transaction date must be no more than 31 days before you submit your visa application.

If you will be funded by an official sponsor, you must obtain a sponsorship letter from them containing all the information required by UKVI.

Your funding evidence must include:

  • tuition fees for the first year of your course – or for the full course duration if it's a one-year course or shorter
  • living expenses of £1,023 per month for the first nine months of your course (£9,207) – or for the full course duration if it's shorter than nine months
  • additional living expenses of any eligible family members, at a rate of £680 per person per month, for the first nine months of your course (£6,120 per person) – check if you are eligible to bring family members to the UK as dependants on your visa on the UK government website

Tuition fees you have already paid to the University will be included in your CAS, but you will need financial evidence for the remaining fees and living expenses.

Take time to prepare your financial evidence correctly so that your visa application is successful. It is essential to read and understand the rules for the types of evidence you are using and prepare your financial evidence to follow these rules.

Funding requirements

Step 2 – Prepare your other supporting documents

It's wise to prepare your supporting documents early – as with your financial evidence – so that you can apply quickly once you receive your CAS.

Make sure you have your original academic certificates and transcripts, and English language test certificate if needed. Your CAS will confirm which documents you need to submit as evidence.

Students from some countries entering courses in selected subject areas must apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. Check on the UK government website to see if you will need an ATAS certificate. We will also contact you to advise you on the ATAS process. The ATAS is valid for a limited period so you shouldn't apply for it more than five months before you will begin your studies in the UK.

Students from some countries must take a tuberculosis test. Check on the UK government website to see if this applies to you.

Some students may need extra documents, including:

  • official translations of any evidence which isn't in English
  • a letter of parental consent if you are under 18
  • evidence about any changes to your name

UK government document requirements

Step 3 – Firmly accept your unconditional offer

To apply for a student visa, you will need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from the University.

This is an essential part of your visa application. It shows that we are accepting you as a student and expect you to join our course. We can only issue a CAS to students who have firmly accepted our offer and met all their offer conditions.

You do not need to apply for a CAS. When you have met the requirements for a CAS we will start preparing it. 

Receiving your CAS

Step 4 – Pay a £2,000 tuition fee deposit (if you need to)

Applicants for postgraduate taught (masters) courses and some foundation courses must pay a deposit of £2,000 before they can receive a CAS. Some masters courses also require a separate course deposit to accept the offer.

These deposits go towards your tuition fees and will be deducted from the fees charged to you by the University.

Exceptions apply for students whose full tuition fees will be covered by University scholarships, recognised sponsors or a US Federal Student Aid loan. No deposit is required for undergraduate courses or postgraduate research.

Tuition fee deposits

Step 5 – Check all your CAS details are correct

Once you've firmly accepted an unconditional offer – and paid a deposit if required – we will prepare your CAS. The earliest we can do this is six months before your course's start date.

We will send you an email to confirm when your CAS details are ready, and you can then verify them in MyNottingham. Check all the information carefully and follow the instructions to confirm that everything is correct or to report any errors.

The CAS will include your personal details, course details and a record of any tuition fees already paid, including deposit payments and University of Nottingham scholarships. It will also show what academic and English language qualifications are needed as evidence in your visa applications.

Accommodation fees are not included in your CAS so we advise you not to pay these in advance – other than the deposit you will need to pay when booking accommodation.

If you have studied in the UK before, you may need to complete a questionnaire before we can issue your CAS (depending on how long you were in the UK for). This is due to visa regulations about how long a student can study on a student visa. You must answer accurately as your visa could be refused if you don't declare details of previous study.

Read our guide to checking your CAS in MyNottingham PDF format for further guidance on responding to the CAS and reporting any errors. 

Once the CAS has been verified or any errors corrected, we will email your CAS number to you. You must include this in your visa application. Your CAS will expire six months after you receive it, so you must apply before it expires and contact us on immigration-support@nottingham.ac.uk if that becomes impossible.

Verifying your CAS

Step 6 – Complete the online visa application form

When you have read all the guidance and prepared all your supporting documents, apply through the UK government website. We strongly recommend using our student visa application form guidance PDF format to help you.

During the application you will need to provide your CAS number, the University of Nottingham's sponsor licence number (RFDX42DB2), and various details about yourself, your studies and funding.

To submit the online application, you must pay the visa application fee (currently £348 or equivalent in your currency) and the Immigration Health Surcharge for your full period of study (currently £470 per year, and the same for any dependants).

If you need to travel urgently, you could apply for a priority service to get a more rapid decision. These services cost considerably more than a standard visa application. There has been some disruption to these services due to Covid-19 so you will need to check in advance if they are being offered in your country at the time you apply.

You will make an appointment to submit your biometrics and documents at a visa application centre. See the UK government website to check for visa application centres in your country and see Step 8 below for further information on your appointment.

Note for applicants from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. If you have a biometric passport you can use the 'UK Immigration: ID Check' app to complete an identity check and also create or sign into a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account. When you start the online visa application form, you will be asked a series of questions to determine your eligibility for this process.

You will not be asked to attend a biometric enrolment appointment. When your visa is issued, you will receive a digital immigration status which you will be able to view and prove online. You will not receive an entry clearance vignette sticker in your passport or a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

You must only travel to the UK after your visa has been granted. If you enter the UK before the start date of your Student permission then you will be entering the UK as a standard visitor visa holder which won’t allow you to register on the course for which your Student visa has been granted.


Student visa application form guidance (pdf)

Step 7 – Select a location to collect your BRP

When you submit your online application, you can also confirm where you will collect your biometric residence permit (BRP) card. Your BRP card is an important immigration document endorsed with your full student visa, which is only available to you after entering the UK.

To have your BRP delivered to the University of Nottingham, enter our alternative collection location (ACL) code, which is 2HE427. If you don't provide an ACL code, your BRP will be delivered to a post office instead of the University.

If your visa is for six months or less, you will not need a BRP, just an entry vignette.

Biometric residence permits

Step 8 – Submit your documents and biometrics

When you submit your online application, you'll make an appointment with a visa application centre to provide the evidence required.

Come at the scheduled time. Bring your passport and all your original supporting documents. These will be assessed with your visa application and returned you with your visa decision.

The application centre staff will also take your biometric information: fingerprints and face photos.

You may also be selected for a 'credibility interview'. This is a five-minute interview via video link with UKVI staff in the UK. The purpose is to check that you are coming to the UK as a genuine student, so you will be asked questions about your course, your reasons for studying in the UK and reasons for choosing the University of Nottingham.

Step 9 – Receive your entry vignette

When your visa application has been processed, your passport will be sent back to you with a vignette (sticker) added to a blank page. It will also come with a decision letter confirming that your application has been successful, the duration of your visa, and your BRP collection location (see Step 10 below).

The vignette allows you to enter the UK within a fixed period, usually lasting for 30 days. Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on international travel, entry vignettes issued for courses beginning in 2020 will be valid for a 90-day period instead.

This 30-day or 90-day period will begin 30 days before the course start date on your CAS or seven days before the date that you specified on your application as your intended date of travel to the UK, whichever is later. The entry vignette will also show if you have a requirement to register with the police in the UK.

If your visa is for six months or less, the vignette will be valid as a visa document for the duration of your visa. For any student visa longer than this, you will need a BRP card.

 If your visa has been refused, the reasons will be stated in the decision letter. Contact our Visa and Immigration team immediately at immigration-support@nottingham.ac.uk and include a copy of the decision letter. We can advise you on whether you should appeal this decision or make a new application, which will require a new CAS from us.

The University's latest date to issue a new CAS is three working days before the official course start date (five working days for presessional English courses).

Step 10 – Collect your BRP within the UK

After the travelling to the UK, you must collect your biometric residence permit (BRP) within 10 days of arrival (unless your visa is for six months or less). Bring your passport with the entry vignette and your visa decision letter with you.

If you provided our ACL code in your visa application (see Step 7 above), you can collect your BRP from our Visa and Immigration Team. It will be available at registration events for students beginning in September or directly from the team at other times.

Your visa decision letter will confirm where you can collect your BRP card. If it hasn't been sent to the University, it will be at a post office in Nottingham or the nearest town to your campus or study location.

The BRP is an essential immigration document with your visa details issued on an ID card. It is valid for the full duration of your visa and you will need it whenever you travel outside the UK or provide evidence of your visa status – such as during University registration or when opening a bank account. You don't need to carry it at other times and you should keep it somewhere safe.

Biometric residence permits

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

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Visa and Immigration Team

Book an appointment to meet with
an immigration adviser via video call

t: +44 (0)115 84 66125
t: immigration-support@nottingham.ac.uk