Visas and immigration
Everything you need to know about applying for a student visa, plus your responsibilities as a visa holder
Before you apply
Do I need a visa?
You can check whether you need a visa to study by answering a few simple questions on this UK Government website.
Do I need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate?
An ATAS certificate is required for the study of certain subjects. If this is indicated on your offer letter, you must apply for this before you apply for your visa and submit it with your Tier 4 application. More details on how to do this can be found on this UK Government web page
We will require a copy of your ATAS certificate before we issue you with a CAS and you can email this to us at email@example.com
What kind of visa do I need?
If your course is due to last more than six months, then you will need to apply for a Tier 4 visa.
Circumstances that will allow you to study on a Student Visitor Visa are:
- Your course must be less than six months (or less than 11 months if English language)
- You must leave the UK when the visa expires
- You cannot apply for another visa from inside the UK
- You cannot do any work while in the UK, paid or unpaid.
What is the NHS charge?
As part of your immigration/Tier 4 visa application you may be required to pay towards the cost of Health Services. You can find out if you are required to pay this charge and how to make a payment at the governmentNHS charges page
From April 2015, an immigration health charge (referred to in this guidance as the health surcharge) will be payable by non-EEA nationals who apply for a visa to enter or remain in the UK for more than six months. People with indefinite leave to remain in the UK and those not subject to immigration control (e.g. diplomats posted to the UK) are not liable to pay the surcharge, but may be ordinarily resident and entitled to free NHS healthcare on that basis (see Chapter 3 for information about ordinary residence).
Payment of the health surcharge entitles the payer to NHS-funded healthcare on the same basis as someone who is ordinarily resident. They are entitled to free NHS services, including NHS hospital care, except for services for which a UK ordinary resident must also pay, such as dentistry and prescriptions in England.
Payment of the health surcharge is mandatory when making an immigration application, subject to exemptions for certain categories of people and the discretion of the Home Secretary to reduce, waive or refund all or part of a surcharge payment. Most of these groups also receive NHS-funded healthcare on the same basis as an ordinarily resident person.
The exemptions to paying the health surcharge are as follows:
(i) persons who apply for entry clearance where the leave to enter is for six months or less; (ii) persons who apply for entry clearance under the Immigration Rules as visitors; (iii) those who apply for entry clearance or leave to remain under the Immigration Rules as a Tier 2 intra-company migrant transfer and their dependants; (iv) a child who applies for leave to remain and is looked after by a Local Authority (or a Local Authority or Authority in other devolved administrations); (v) a person, and their dependants, who makes an application for leave to remain.
You can find the full information regarding the NHS surcharges
How do I apply for a Short Term Study?
If you are a visa national, you can check by looking at the list on the following website. Then you should apply for your Student Visitor Visa from your home country. If you are not a visa national, you can apply for a Student Visitor Visa from your home country or when you arrive at the UK Port of Entry.
If you apply for a Student Visitor Visa on arrival, we strongly advise that you DO NOT enter the UK through Ireland as there is no immigration control between Ireland and the UK. You would only be able to get a General Visitor Visa and this is only valid for three months. As a result, you wouldn't be able to register at Lancaster.
For more information check the UKVI website
How do I apply for a Tier 4 visa?
The online application form is available at the UK Government website. You should only apply once you have received your Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS).
What is a CAS number and how do I get one?
When you have met the conditions of your offer and accepted your unconditional offer (on PG portal or via UCAS), the University will automatically supply you with a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS). This will be sent to you via email no sooner than 5 months before the start of your course of studies. You may apply for your Tier 4 visa no earlier than 3 months before your intended travel to the UK.
The CAS statement will show the unique CAS number that you need to enter on to your visa application, and other information about you that we have passed to UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) such as your passport number, details of your course, previous studies/progression and the documents that we checked when we offered you a place and the amount of fees you have paid. It is your responsibility to check that the information on your CAS is correct and complete and you must inform us as soon as possible if there are any amendments required .
You can email us at:
firstname.lastname@example.org for queries about your immigration
email@example.com for queries about your CAS (Certificate of Acceptance of Studies)
What if there is incorrect information on my CAS?
Please check all the details on the CAS carefully before you apply for your visa. If there are any corrections required, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you let us know about corrections you'd like to make before you apply for your visa, we can advise the UKVI Home Office via a sponsor note. You do not need a new CAS.
When should I apply for my visa?
We advise that you to make your visa application three months before you intend to travel to the UK. This will allow enough time for the application process. This is particularly important if you are intending to study on a degree course that requires an ATAS certificate.
What if my application is refused?
If your visa application is refused, you must send us a copy of the refusal notice by emailing email@example.com. We can then send you another CAS to make another application. Please be aware that you can only use your CAS for one visa application.
Will I need to have an interview?
As part of the visa application process, you may have to take a short 'credibility interview'. This is either done via video link (Skype) or in person. The Home Office staff will ask you some questions to determine that:
- You genuinely plan to attend the course of study for which you are applying for a visa
- Your proficiency in English language is acceptable.
The questions will not be difficult, so there is nothing to worry about. For example, you may be asked why you have chosen a particular course, or how you intend to pay your fees and support yourself. You will be required to answer the questions in English.
Can I bring my family with me?
You can bring your family (also known as dependants) if:
- Your nationality is within the EU, EEA or Switzerland, and your dependants are also from one of these countries. Please also note that if you are from EU, EEA or Switzerland but your dependants are from a country that requires a visa, they can apply for a Family Permit
- You are applying for a Tier 4 (General) Visa, or you already have your Tier 4 (General) visa and your course is at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 7 (Masters) or higher, and lasts at least 12 months, or you are applying for a Tier 4 (General) Visa, or you already have your Tier 4 (General) and you are sponsored by your government agency and your course lasts at least six months.
Do I need health screening?
Depending on your nationality, you may need to get a certificate to show that you are free from infectious tuberculosis (TB). Find out if this applies to you and how to get a certificate
Do I need to get any vaccinations?
You are recommended to ensure that all your usual routine vaccinations are up to date before you leave home, in particular Measles, Mumps and Rubella and Meningitis C. If possible, please bring your vaccination record with you to Lancaster. Nationals of certain countries are required to obtain a certificate confirming that they are free from infectious Tuberculosis (TB) before applying for a visa.
Once you have your visa
Do I need to bring any documents with me to registration?
You will need to provide the University with the originals of your passport, visa and documents used for your offer as stated on your CAS (including English Language certificates if appropriate) at registration. We will check and scan the documents and hand them back to you.
What are my responsibilities after my visa has been approved?
- Provide the University with the originals of your passport and valid visa at registration and to maintain a valid visa throughout the course of your studies.
- Keep your UK contact details up to date.
- Re-enrol for your course on time each academic year if applicable.
- Study FULL TIME whilst you are in the UK (ensuring that you meet the progression and attendance requirements of your course with no significant gaps or absences).
- Follow University processes if you wish to defer or suspend your studies or withdraw from your course.
- Please contact the Lancaster University Visa and Immigration team for advice on how such changes would affect your current immigration status).
- Ensure that you abide by the terms and conditions (including the rules regarding working during your studies) as laid down in the immigration rules for your particular visa.
- Ensure that you continue to retain a valid visa by extending or applying for a new visa before your current visa expires; and that you present your new visa to the University so that a copy can be taken.
- Report any change in circumstances (including change of address/name etc) to https://www.gov.uk/change-circumstances-visa-brp
- Inform us immediately if you think you have breached the terms of your visa.
- You can view the full Policy Guidance for tier 4 visas.
This list is not exhaustive and you should view the full Policy Guidance for Tier 4 visas
If you do not understand anything please contact the LU Visa and Immigration Team
What are Lancaster University’s responsibilities?
- Ensure that you have the correct visa to study at Lancaster University on your chosen course.
- Not allow you to enrol if you do not have the correct documentation to study here.
- Keep copies of your visa documentation and passport (including when you extend your visa).Keep up to date contact details for you.
- Report to the UKVI if you do not enrol on your course.
- Monitor your attendance and progression and report to the UKVI if you do not attend or progress from one part of your course to the next.
- Notify the UKVI of any changes to your status. For example if you suspend your studies or withdraw from your course, if you change course, or finish your course earlier than expected.
- Report to the UKVI if we have reason to believe that you have contravened the terms and conditions of your visa.
- We reserve the right to decline to issue a CAS if we suspect that you will be unable to make a valid visa application, in accordance with the immigration rules.
What happens if I withdraw from my course?
If you fail to register, or if you withdraw from your course, we will inform the UK Visas and Immigration Office (UKVI) and your visa will be cancelled.
What if I suspend my studies?
If you suspend your studies (known as intercalation), we are required to inform the UK Visas and Immigration Office (UKVI) under the Tier 4 rules. This means that your visa will be cancelled and you will be required to leave the UK as soon as possible. You should provide us with evidence that you have left the UK by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you then meet the criteria for returning to your studies you must ask us for a new CAS and apply for a new visa. You must not attempt to re-enter the UK on your cancelled visa.
What if I need to return to Lancaster University to resit exams?
If you are required to be an external student for exam resits you may be required to leave the UK and we will inform the UK Visas and Immigration Office (UKVI). This means that your visa will be cancelled and you will be required to leave the UK. If you then meet the criteria for returning to your studies you must ask us for a new CAS and you must apply for a new visa.
Extend your visa
Why may I need to extend my visa?
For most students, the visa granted to you should cover the full period of your course. However, you may need to extend your visa if, for instance, you change your course of studies.
How can I extend a Tier 4 visa?
Full details of how to extend your visa are available from the Lancaster University Visa and Immigration Team. Please note we can help you to submit your application. To find out more about our services please email@example.com or contact The Base, our main student enquiry desk located on campus in University House, Alexander Square.
We advise you to prepare your supporting documents at least three months before your visa expiry date.