This section explains how you can apply to come to or remain in the UK as an adult student under Tier 4 (General) of the points-based system.

Rule changes announced for students
From 6 April 2013 changes are being made to the student route (Tier 4). This will mean that if you are a PhD student completing your course, you can apply to stay in the UK for a further 12 months, beyond the end of your course to find skilled work or to set up as an entrepreneur.

Read more

Tier 4 is part of our points-based system for immigration. It is for migrants who want to study in the United Kingdom.

This page contains basic information about the Tier 4 (General) category. There is more information on the UKBA website that can further help you to decide whether you can and should apply in this category, and will give you the information you need to make an application.

If you know the Tier 4 (General) requirements and you want to make an application, please refer to the UKBA website.

Depending on your nationality and circumstances, you may be able to study in the United Kingdom without needing to apply under a Tier 4 (General) as an adult student. However, your ability to work while you are studying here may be restricted.


What is the Tier 4 (General) Student Category?

The Tier 4 (General) category is for adult students who want to come to or remain in the UK for their post-16 education.

Part 6A of the Immigration Rules (paragraphs 245ZT to 245ZY) contains full details of the Tier 4 (General) category's requirements.


Can you Apply?

As a Tier 4 (General) student, you must have 40 points in the UKBA's points assessment. you can score:

  • 30 points for having a valid confirmation of acceptance for studies, which you get for studying a course at an acceptable level with an approved education provider (also known as a 'Tier 4 sponsor'), and for having acceptable English language skills; and
  • 10 points for having enough money (also known as maintenance or funds) to cover your course fees and living costs.
You can find out more information about these requirements on the UKBA website:

There are other requirements that you may also need to meet. These are described below.
If you are already in the United Kingdom in a different immigration category, you may be able to 'switch' into Tier 4 (General) without leaving the United Kingdom. See below for more information.


Financial Sponsorship: Addition Information

An 'Official Financial Sponsor' is an organisation that wholly supports you to study in the United Kingdom by giving you money to cover your course fees and your living costs. The UK government, your home government, the British Council or any international organisation, international company, university or UK independent school can be an official financial sponsor.

You will need your official financial sponsor's permission to continue studying in the UK as a Tier 4 student if it is currently supporting you (or was supporting you within the past 12 months) to study here as :

  • a Tier 4 (General) or Tier 4 (Child) student; or
  • a student under the Immigration Rules that were in force before 31 March 2009; or
  • a student nurse; or
  • a student re-sitting an examination; or
  • a student writing up a thesis; or
  • a postgraduate doctor or dentist.
You will need to provide the UKBA with your financial sponsor's unconditional permission in writing. The financial sponsor must confirm that it has no objection to you continuing your studies in the UK. If the financial sponsor does not give its consent, we will refuse your application.

Can you switch into the Tier 4 (General) Student category?

You can switch into Tier 4 (General) without leaving the United Kingdom if you have, or were last given, permission to stay in one of the following categories:

  • Tier 1 (Post-study work)
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Intra company transfer)
  • Tier 2 (Minister of religion)
  • Tier 4 (Child)
  • prospective student
  • student (under the rules in place before 31 March 2009)
  • student re-sitting an examination
  • student nurse
  • students writing up a thesis
  • student union sabbatical officer
  • work permit holder
  • postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme
  • International Graduates Scheme
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
If you are currently in the UK in any other immigration category, you must leave the UK and apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa from your country of residence.