Adult students - Tier 4 (General)
Applying for a student visa from outside the UK
This page explains how you can apply to come to the UK as a student under Tier 4 (General) of the points-based system.
Before you apply, you should read:
- the Can you apply? pages to find out whether you meet the requirements and will score enough points; and
- the Documents required pages to find out which documents you should provide with your application.
Depending on the country where you live, you may need to make your application online or using application form VAF9. To find out which method you should use, see 'More information' below.
All applicants must also complete and submit the relevant version of Appendix 8 of the form.
You can download application form VAF9, the Appendix and the guidance notes from the right side of this page.
The date of your application must be no more than 6 months after the date when your Tier 4 sponsor assigned your confirmation of acceptance for studies to you.
There are particular application requirements if you are currently in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
As part of your application, you will need to enrol your fingerprints and facial image (known as 'biometric information') at a visa application centre.
Select your country in our country finder to find out:
- how to apply in your country (including how to apply online);
- the location of our visa application centres;
- how long we generally take to process visa applications; and
- how your documents will be returned to you.
If your application is successful, you can find information about what will happen at the border (including customs requirements) in the Customs and travel information section.
Should you apply online or complete an application form on paper?
If you are applying for a visa from the following countries, you should apply using our online application system, Visa4UK:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- British Virgin Islands
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Cayman Islands
- Central African Republic
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Dominican Republic
- East Timor
- Equatorial Guinea
- French Guiana
- Guinea Bissau
- Hong Kong
- Ivory Coast
- Marshall Islands
- New Zealand
- Palestinian Authority
- Papua New Guinea
- Russian Federation
- Samoa and Western Samoa
- San Marino
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- South Korea
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Vincent and Grenadine
- St Lucia
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos
- Vatican City
- Western Sahara
If you are applying for a visa from the following countries, you should apply by printing out an application form and completing it by hand:
- North Korea
If you are applying for a visa from the following countries, you can choose whether to apply using our online application system or by printing off the application form and completing it by hand:
- Sri Lanka
What is the date of your application if you are applying from outside the UK?
The date of your application is the date when your application fee is paid to us. This will be the date shown on your payment receipt, which depends on how you paid for your visa application - for example, at a visa application centre or online.
Processing times - applications made outside the UK
The time required to process your visa will depend on the country where you are making your application.
Our Visa services section lists our recent processing times for different application types in each country around the world.
Applying for a student visa if you are in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
The Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Herm, Sark, and Alderney) and the Isle of Man have their own immigration laws and policies. For immigration control, we consider that these islands are outside the UK.
If you are living in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and the island authorities have given you permission to enter or stay there (also known as 'entry clearance' or 'leave to remain'), you cannot apply directly from the island for permission to enter the UK.
To apply for permission to enter the UK, you have 2 options:
- you can return to the country where you are normally resident (your 'home country') and apply from there for a visa to enter the UK; or
- if your permission to come or stay on the island is still current, and your immigration category on the island is one that UK immigration law allows you to switch from, you can come directly to the UK. When you have arrived here, you can apply for permission to remain as a Tier 4 student - this is because we will be able to treat your current permission under the island laws as if it had been given by the UK authorities. You must make your application to switch before your current permission to stay on the island expires.To find out whether you can switch from your current immigration category, see 'Can I switch?' below.
Some foreign nationals must apply for a visa before they come to the UK from one of these islands. For more information, see section 2 of our Immigration directorate instructions, Chapter 1.
Policy guidance for Tier 4 students
- Tier 4 policy guidance PDF 703KB opens in a new window
Tier 4 (General) visa
- VAF9 application form - points-based system PDF 56KB opens in a new window
- VAF9 Appendix 8: Tier 4 (General)PDF 129KB opens in a new window
- VAF9 guidance notes PDF 79KB opens in a new window
- Supporting documents guidance - Tier 4 (General)PDF 230KB opens in a new window