Skip to content Exit mobile menu

Tier 4 Visa questions

What level of English do I need?

If you are not from a majority English speaking country, or your previous degree was not taught in English, you will need to show you have met UKVI's English language requirements (in addition to St Mary's academic English requirements). The International Entry requirements page provides more information about the acceptable English language tests.

You should also send a copy of your English test result to St Mary's and we can assess if it is sufficient. Students who need to raise their IELTS score by up to 0.5 in order to meet their requirement may be accepted onto St Mary's pre-sessional English language programme. Please email for more information.

If you will be studying one of our Foundation Courses and you are not from a majority English speaking country, you will be required to complete a UKVI approved Secure English Language Test (SELT). Alternative tests will not be accepted.

The SELT must also be taken at a UKVI approved test centre. UKVI supply a full list of approved test centres. More information about how to book a SELT can be found on the IELTS website.

Cap on studies

The Home Office have set time limits (cap) on studying in the UK on a Tier 4 visa. Before we can issue you with a CAS, we must check that you have not studied in the UK beyond the cap and/or the course you hold an offer for will not take you over the limit.

The cap is calculated by the length of leave granted on your visa, including the period of leave granted before and after your course dates.

Below degree level studies

From 12th November 2015, for students aged 18 or over, there is a cap of two years of study below degree level on a Tier 4 visa. Applicants who have previously studied in the UK on a course below degree level (such as BTEC or A Level) would not be eligible to apply for our Level 5 Foundation Degree courses and this in itself is two years in length, so would take you over the two year cap.

Degree level study

The cap on study at degree level is five years. If you are transferring to St Mary’s or have repeated years, we will check whether your new course of study will take you over this limit. There are a few exceptions to the five year cap, please see the UKCISA website for more information.

Can I study part-time on a Tier 4 visa?

If you are in the UK with Tier 4/Student immigration permission, your visa in your passport (or BRP) will state whether you are able to work during your studies. In most cases students who are in the UK on a Tier 4 visa can expect to receive a stamp on their visa which allows work with restrictions.

Work usually permitted for Tier 4 visa holders at St Mary's University:

Part-time and vacation employment - up to 20 hours a week during term-time for students enrolled on a course at degree level or above, and full time during vacations. Students enrolled on a course below Bachelor's degree level will be able to work up to 10 hours per week during term-time.

Work NOT permitted for Tier 4 visa holders at St Mary's University:

Students must not engage in business, be self-employed or work as a professional sportsperson or entertainer. Students must not pursue a career by filling a permanent full time vacancy.

How long will it take for my visa application to be processed?

Please see the UKVI website for the most up to date information about visa processing times for the country you are applying from.

If you are making your visa application in the UK, UKVI have set service standards of providing a decision within 8 weeks.

What do I do if my visa is refused?

If your visa has been refused please email with a copy of the refusal letter and await our instructions before submitting a new visa application. Do not attempt to make a new visa application using the same CAS as they can only be used once.

Will I be interviewed as part of the visa application process?

The Home Office have introduced student credibility testing which are interviews to assess your reasons for coming to the UK. When you make your visa application you may be asked to undertake an interview, either in person, or on the telephone. You will be asked about why you want to study at St Mary's and your English language standards will be assessed.

Will I need to be screened for tuberculosis?

If you are making your visa application from one of the countries listed in the UKVI Tuberculosis Screening document you will need to undergo tuberculosis screening and provide a medical certificate confirming that tuberculosis is not present when submitting your visa application.

Do I need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate?

You will not need an ATAS certificate if you are enrolling onto any of our Undergraduate or taught Postgraduate programmes. For some research Master's and PhD subjects (mainly science and engineering related subjects) an ATAS certificate may be required.

Where can I find out more?

The information provided is up to date as of July 2015 but may be subject to policy changes. Please see the UKVI website for the latest updates and for additional information please see UKVI's Tier 4 policy guidance document and the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.

When will I receive my short term visa?

If your visa application is successful, you will receive your short term visa in the form of a “vignette” in your passport. Details on how to apply for your visa can be found on our Tier 4 pages.

Please see the visa processing times for your country.

When can I travel to the UK?

You will need to declare your travel arrangements as part of their online visa application form. This will determine the validity dates on the short term vignette.

If you are studying for one of our full time degree programmes or full year Study Abroad, you can come to the UK up to one month before the start of the course, so you should plan your travel within this time.

What happens if my travel plans change?

If you don’t travel to the UK within the 30 day period stated on your short term visa then your vignette will expire and you will need to apply for another 30-day vignette if you still wish to travel to the UK.

You will have to pay £122 for this new application and provide your biometric information again, but you will not have to submit a new Tier 4 application. You should use the same online application form but you should select the following options:

  • Reason for Visit: Other
  • Visa Type: Others
  • Visa Sub Type: Vignette Transfer

At the end of the application form you should use the 'Any other information' field to explain that you have been granted a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK but you need a new 30-day vignette as you have not been able (or will not be able) to travel to the UK before the end of the 30-day vignette that you have been issued.

Your 30-day vignette will be accompanied by a letter. When you enter the UK you should show the border force officer your 30-day vignette and this letter.