The University of Nottingham, along with a small number of other UK Universities, has been selected by the Home Office to participate in a Tier 4 visa pilot scheme. The scheme offers several important advantages for students applying for a Tier 4 visa to study on a Masters degree course (MA, MA (by Research), MSc, MSc (by Research), MRes, LLM, MPA, MPH, Med, MArch and MBA) which lasts 13 months or less (excluding the duration of any pre-sessional course).
- You will be granted six months additional leave to remain in the UK after your course end date (as stated on your CAS) which will be helpful if you wish to stay on in the UK to look for work or to attend your graduation ceremony. It is also helpful if you intend to study a further degree in the UK after completion of your Masters as you can use this additional time to extend your visa from inside the UK (provided you meet the Tier 4 rules). Even if you do not intend to stay in the UK, the additional time will give you longer to make any final preparations prior to your departure if required.
- It’s an easier application process with less documentation required. You are not required to include financial evidence or evidence of your academic qualifications with your visa application.
- However, please note that UKVI may request this evidence from any applicant at a later stage of the visa process and will be making spot-checks under the pilot programme. It is therefore very important to ensure you hold these documents in the required format although you do not need to submit them with your visa application.
- You can find further information in Annex 6 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance on the Government website.
The scheme is open to students applying for a visa for a Masters Degree course (MA, MA (by Research), MSc, MSc (by Research), MRes, LLM, MPA, MPH, Med, MArch and MBA) which lasts 13 months or less are eligible for this scheme.
Undergraduate students (including MEng and MSci students) and PhD students, as well as students on Masters Degree courses longer than 13 months, are not eligible.
You are included in the pilot if you are applying for Tier 4 entry clearance overseas or if you are extending your current Tier 4 visa from within the UK following successful completion of an undergraduate or previous postgraduate degree.
Frequently Asked Questions
The online application form says I need to submit supporting documents with my application, should I still do so?
As this is a pilot affecting only a limited number of students at a small number of institutions, the Tier 4 online application form has not been changed to reflect the new scheme. Therefore it might still indicate that you need to include these documents with your visa application but you may ignore this as you do not need to submit financial documents or your previous qualifications. Please check the ‘Evidence Used’ section on your CAS for a note confirming that you are eligible for the pilot. Under the scheme if you are applying for a visa to undertake a Masters degree course of under 13 months at Nottingham, you are not required to include your qualifications or financial documents with your visa application.
Do I need to specify anything about the pilot on my visa application form?
We do recommend that you annotate your visa application form. As mentioned above, this scheme is a pilot affecting only a relatively small number of students, and as such, the online Tier 4 application form has not been changed to pick up Masters degree students applying from a pilot institution. Therefore, the form will ask you to provide supporting documentation, even though you do not need to provide this.
The online application form that is used for Tier 4 applications made outside the UK will ask you what documents you are including to demonstrate you meet the financial requirements of the Tier 4 application. We recommend you put here ‘Not applicable. Applying under the Pilot as per Annex 6 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance page 94’.
The online application form that is used for Tier 4 applications made inside the UK will produce a checklist specifying which documents you need to include to support your visa application. You are required to download this and include it with your documents when you send them to the Home Office. We would advise that you write on the checklist “Please note: Applying under the Tier 4 Pilot as per Annex 6 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance page 94”.
What happens if I submit documents when they are not required, will they still be considered?
Yes. If you submit financial documents or previous qualifications with your application when they are not required, then they will be assessed by the caseworker in the normal way. If they don't meet the Tier 4 requirements, your application will be refused.
If I don’t have to supply financial documents with my visa application, does this mean I don’t need to hold money for 28 days before I apply?
No. It is essential that you meet the Tier 4 requirements at the time you submit your online Tier 4 application, including the requirement to maintain funds to cover your tuition fees and living expenses for 28 days. Although students under the pilot will not have to submit these documents to UK Visas and Immigration, the caseworker can request to see them if required and may do spot-checks on applicants applying under the pilot. If you are asked for documents and cannot provide them, your application will be refused.
I am from a low risk country and do not need to submit documents based on my low risk nationality. How does this affect me?
Where asked you should still indicate you are from a low risk country on the application form and you do not need to submit supporting documents. You will still benefit from the additional time added onto your visa end date.
The officer at the Visa Application Centre (VAC) in my country has asked me to submit financial evidence and academic documents even though I am eligible for the pilot. What shall I do?
Staff at the Visa Application Centres (VACs) are not involved in the decision-making process. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is aware of previous issues and is working closely with the VACs to reduce this type of incident. Similarly, if you are using a local visa agent to help you with your visa application, please make sure you mention to them that you are eligible for the Tier 4 Pilot and refer them to this page for more information.
I have dependant family members, will they be affected by the scheme?
In accordance with the normal Tier 4 policy, if your Masters degree course is at least 12 months long or you are a government sponsored student studying for more than 6 months, you can bring dependant family members with you.
If your dependants are applying for their visa at the same time as you, they are eligible to take part in the pilot which means that they will also not need to submit financial documents with their application. However, they must hold these documents in the required format as they could be asked to submit them during the visa application process.
My dependant is planning on coming to the UK but will make their application later. Will they still be included in the pilot?
If your dependant is not applying at the same time as you they will be required to include full evidence of their finances with their visa application. They will, however, get the extra time so that their visa expiry date will be the same as yours.
I am studying a Masters that is less than 12 months; does the additional six months added on my visa end date mean that my dependants can now apply for a Tier 4 dependant visa?
No. For family members to be eligible to apply as dependants your course still needs to be 12 months or longer and at postgraduate level, or if you are funded by the UK Government or the Government in your home country and the course is longer than six months. If the above does not apply to you, then you cannot bring any dependants with you.
I am attending a pre-sessional course. Am I still eligible for the scheme?
Yes as long as the Masters degree course you will be studying is 13 months or less and you are issued an integrated CAS (one CAS to cover both the pre-sessional and the main course), you are eligible for this scheme.
However, if your entry to the main course is conditional based on successful completion of your pre-sessional course, you will get an initial visa for the pre-sessional course only. You will then need to make a new visa application for the Masters degree course and you will benefit from the pilot.
I have an integrated CAS (for pre-sessional and Masters degree course). Do I need to specify anything on my visa application?
Yes. On the Tier 4 visa application form, when asked for your course start date you need to write the start date of your Masters course.
Do I still need to submit an ATAS certificate (if my subject requires this) or a TB screening certificate (if required in my country)?
Yes you still need to submit an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate and a Tuberculosis (TB) screening certificate if the course you are applying for or the country you live in requires additional clearances.
Will this additional period be counted towards the time limit cap?
Yes. If you have studied previously in the UK you will need to check that your previous study meets the time limit guidelines. The cap is 5 years for degree level courses and the whole duration of the visa is counted including extra time before and after the course (please see time limit guidance
for exceptions). If you feel that the six months which will be added to the visa for the Masters degree course will take you over the 5 year cap, please contact the Visa and Immigration Team
for further advice.
Will I need to pay more for the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) with the pilot?
It is likely that you will have to pay more if you are eligible for the pilot. For anyone coming to the UK for more than 6 months an IHS is paid as part of a Tier 4 and other visa applications. The IHS is £300 for each year or part year over six months of the visa being applied for, plus £150 for part of a year that is less than six months.
I have received my visa and I do not have the additional time. What should I do?
If you are eligible for the pilot scheme (you applied for your visa for a Masters degree course of 13 months or less at the University of Nottingham) and you have not received the additional 6 months of leave on the end of your visa, you can have your visa corrected.
If you have chosen to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from the University, we will advise you at the time of the collection how you can amend your visa. If you are collecting your BRP from the Post Office, you are still advised to speak to the Visa and Immigration Team
once you have collected your BRP.
Will my visa be processed more quickly under this scheme?
It is anticipated that processing of your application will be quicker as the staff will be assessing fewer documents. However, please bear in mind that faster processing times cannot be guaranteed, and you should consider using the priority or premium services that are available in your country of application if you need your application processed urgently.
Can I opt out of this scheme?
No. If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa to study an eligible course at the University of Nottingham, then your application will automatically be considered under the pilot. You are of course not obliged to remain after the end of your studies if you do not wish to use the additional time added to your visa end date.
Who should I contact for further information?