Students Staff

Your application - Student route

The Student Immigration rules replaced Tier 4 on the 5 October 2020. EEA and Swiss nationals who wish to come to the UK to study for more than 6 months from 1 January 2021 will also apply under these rules, unless you already have settlement rights.

If you’re coming to study for less than 6 months you may be able to apply as a Visitor.

If you are studying a pathway course at the University of Essex International College, this information does not apply to you, you should contact the college direct.

What to do before you apply

Read the following UKCISA guidance:

Find out if you are eligible to apply and what all the requirements are.

  • You’ll need your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from the University before you can apply and;
  • must make sure you have your finances in place and evidence that meets the requirements, as early as possible (at least 2 months before your CAS course start date).

Once you have established that you are eligible and can meet the requirements, you’ll need to find out how to apply:

  • ATAS certificate - Essex PhD students

    Some of our PhD students require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate, depending on your subject. It usually takes 20 to 30 days to obtain an ATAS certificate from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

    If you are a new Essex student, Admissions will let you know if you need an ATAS when assessing your eligibility for a CAS.

    If you need to extend your Student visa to finish your current course you will need to obtain a new ATAS first.


  • TB (Tuberculosis) test

    If you're coming to the UK for more than six months and are a resident of any of these listed countries, you are required by the UK government to have a TB test. If your test shows that you don’t have TB, you’ll be given a certificate which is valid for six months from the date of your x-ray. Include this certificate with your UK visa application.

    You shouldn’t need a TB certificate if:

    • you’ve been in the UK for at least six months and are applying to extend your visa from inside the UK
    • you're applying overseas and have lived for at least six months in a country where TB screening isn't required by the UK

  • The financial requirements

    You must meet the financial requirements and supply the required evidence unless the following circumstances apply, in which case you will be exempt:

    • You’re applying for Student permission inside the UK and you have been living in the UK for 12 months or more with valid immigration permission at the time of your application.
    • You’re applying from inside or outside the UK as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.

    Please refer to Appendix Student of the Immigration Rules for further details.

    Otherwise you’ll need to have the correct money and supply required documents to show you have enough money:

    • to pay outstanding tuition fees (make sure payments made to the University are shown on your CAS). If you have a scholarship from the University of Essex this should be included on your CAS statement, you don't need any additional evidence of this scholarship and;
    • for living costs, our campuses are outside London so you’ll need to show you have £1,023 per calendar month for each month of your course up to a maximum of nine months, £9,207. Less, up to £1,334 you have paid for University accommodation, as shown on your CAS.

    Please note:

    • If your course duration includes a part of a month (for example 7 months and 2 weeks), this will be rounded up. You must show you have enough money for 8 months.
    • If you are using your parents or legal guardians account, you’ll need additional documents.
    • If you have a financial sponsor you need to check if they meet the Home Office definition of an 'official financial sponsor' and supply the evidence required.
    • If you need payment information updated on your CAS, contact us with evidence of payments made and ask us to amend it.

    Read the UKCISA guidance to find out all you need to know about the financial requirements and the evidence you need to supply.


  • Your family (dependants)

    You can apply to bring your family if:

    • you're government sponsored and on a full-time course that is longer than 6 months, or:
    • studying a full-time postgraduate course of 9 months or longer

    If your dependants are applying for Student Dependant permission inside the UK and have been living in the UK for 12 months or more with valid immigration permission at the time of their application, they are exempt from meeting the financial requirements.

    For more information about and for dependants, read the UKCISA guidance, including if you have a baby whilst you are studying in the UK.


  • Preparing for your interview with the Home Office

    After you have submitted your application, the Home Office may require you to attend a short credibility interview. This is intended to help satisfy the Home Office that you are a genuine student and that your English language ability is as stated on your CAS.

    You are highly likely to be interviewed if you are overseas especially if you are from countries where the Home Office believe there is a high level of fraudulent activity. Interviews are usually via Skype (or similar) but could also be in-person.

    During your interview a member of Home Office staff will ask you several questions including about your course, your reasons for studying in the UK and in particular, what made you decide to study with us rather than another institution offering similar courses. They may also ask questions about the area you are going to be living in.

    You may be asked to attend further interview(s) with a caseworker. If the Home Office caseworker isn’t satisfied that you are a genuine student, your application would be refused on credibility grounds.

    We recommend you take time to prepare for your interview and have put together some guidance that we hope will help you.


When can I apply?

You’ll need your CAS first and must meet all the requirements. When you can apply will depend on where you are making your application.

  • If you’re applying overseas

    • The earliest you can apply is 6 months before the start date of your course. For example, if your course start date is 1 October on your CAS, you must not apply before 1 April or your application will be rejected as invalid and;
    • No later than 6 months after your CAS was issued.

    If you are applying to study a new Essex course, before you apply make sure your CAS is for the correct course and you're sure this is the course you want to study. It’s not always possible to change your course without applying for a new visa from overseas first.

  • If you’re applying inside the UK

    It’s not always possible for students to make their application inside the UK due to the requirements of the Student Immigration Rules. We will ask you where you would like to make your application and if it’s inside the UK, before issuing your CAS we’ll check if you are eligible to do so.

    If you’re applying inside the UK, the earliest you can apply is 3 months before the course start date on your CAS. If you will starting a new course you will usually have to have completed the previous course first.

    If you are applying for more time to finish your current Essex course, your original course start date must be mentioned in the notes on the CAS.

What else you’ll need to know to complete your application

  • CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)

    You'll need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from us. A CAS is an electronic document that we issue to students who are eligible for our sponsorship. You’ll need the CAS number for your application. The information on the CAS statement will help you to fill in the application form.

    When you complete your application, it will ask you for the RQF level of the course you are going to be studying and if applicable, for previous study. RQF has replaced NQF. Your CAS statement and previous qualifications may state NQF, the value is the same so for example, if your CAS or qualification states QCF_NQF 7 you should input RQF7.

  • Your BRP collection location

    If you’re studying for more than 6 months, you’ll be asked to select the location from which you wish to collect your BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) after you’ve arrived in the UK. The location you should select will depend on which campus you’ll be studying at:

    • Colchester or Loughton Campus: ACL 2HE557 University of Essex, c/o Tier 4 Compliance Team, Colchester. Please don’t select the University of Essex International College.
    • Southend Campus: Southend-on-Sea Post Office, SS1 1LL. Please don’t select the University.

    Read our guidance about collecting your BRP when you arrive in the UK.

    For the 2020/2021 academic year, you’ll have more time to collect your BRP when you arrive in the UK and we can keep it longer so, don’t worry if you don’t travel straight away or have to self-isolate on arrival.

  • Your UK address

    If you haven’t arranged your accommodation but will be staying in campus accommodation, you can put your campus address. Once you're in the UK and know where you will be living, you will need to tell the Home Office your new address and the Police if you have the condition to register with them.

  • Documents you need to provide

    You must have all specified documents, that meet the requirements on the date you make your application, including the qualifications listed on your CAS.

    Any document not in English or Welsh must be accompanied by an official translation.

    All documents must be submitted unless, you are a low risk national in which case, you don’t need to supply financial, qualification or English language documents at the time of your application. However, you may be asked to supply them later.

    Read the UKCISA guidance for more information about the evidence you’ll require.

  • Paying for NHS healthcare

    Most students have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge/Charge for the whole duration of their visa (including the time before and after your course). You will pay when you make your application unless you’re exempt, exemptions include UK Government Scholarship students (Chevening, Marshall and Commonwealth).

    You can calculate how much it will be before you apply, you’ll need to enter the course start and end dates shown on your CAS statement.

    For further guidance about the Immigration Health Surcharge including, who doesn’t have to pay and when you may be eligible for a refund read the government website.

Can I get help with my application?

  • If you are inside the UK

    If you’re applying for permission to stay from inside the UK you can book a workshop and have your documents checked by experts in the Student Union’s, SUAdvice team. More information can be found on the SU website.

    Alternatively, you can call the UKCISA student advice line or seek advice from an immigration lawyer.

  • If you are overseas

    We are unable to check entry clearance applications and documents for you. However, once you’ve read all the guidance provided by us and UKCISA online, if you can’t find the answer to a specific question you can contact:

    Our Admissions team via our online enquiry form if you are starting a new Essex course.

    Our International Services Team via our online enquiry form for current students who are continuing the same course.

    Alternatively, you can call the UKCISA student advice line or seek advice from an immigration lawyer.

    If our advisers can’t answer your enquiry you may be referred to UKCISA or an immigration lawyer.

When to travel to the UK if you’re applying overseas

The Home Office advise against booking any non-refundable travel until your passport containing your entry clearance vignette (visa sticker) has been returned to you.

Once you have received your outcome please read our guidance to find out what to do next.