How To Apply for UK Visa extension from inside the UK

The element of the Points Based System that relates to students became law at midnight on 30th March 2009.  Full details of immigration requirements for a visa extension under Tier 4: Students can be found on the UKBA website.
It is important that all students that are currently in the UK are aware of the changes and how they may be affected.  If students have Leave to Remain until their current course is complete they will not be affected unless they decide to remain in the UK for another course or in a work based category of immigration.  This information is only relevant for current students that need to extend their permission to stay in the UK and not applicants that are in their Home country; if you are overseas or you are contacted by applicants from overseas please direct them to Student Services, where they will receive assistance from an International Student Adviser.
If students originally entered the UK to embark on their current course of study and have not had a Leave of Absence or any reason to lengthen their end of course date and were not issued with a visa that covers their graduation they should seek the advice of an International Student Adviser as soon as possible.  In some circumstances mistakes can be rectified free of charge.

Making an application for an extension of stay as a student from within the UK

It is important that applicants read the Tier 4 Policy Guidance before making an application to extend their time in the UK.
You will need to make an application on form Tier 4 (General) Student and pay the fee of £386 for a postal application or £702 for an in person application at a Public Enquiry Office.
Under the Points Based System students need to have 40 points.
Students need to be very aware of when their permission to be in the UK is due to expire and plan ahead to make a complete and in time application for further leave to remain.
•    Applicants must be studying at an approved education provider that is registered with the UKBA as a sponsor; the University of St Andrews is registered in this category
•    Applicants must provide a Certificate of Acceptance of Study (CAS) from an institution detailed above; this will be in the form of a unique number entered into the application form.  By providing the CAS the applicant will be allocated 30 points
•    Applicants need to provide evidence of funds.  If students are on a course of nine months duration or less they will need to show that they have their course fees and £600 for each calendar month of the course up to a maximum of two months; for courses of more than nine months students will need to show that they have one full years course fees and £1200 to cover two months living costs in the UK.  These funds need to have been in a bank account for 28 days at the time of application.  For proof of funds students will be awarded 10 points
•    Available funds must be in cash and banked in the student's name;  proof of financial support from family members, shares, bonds, pension funds and similar accounts will no longer be acceptable proof of finances
•    If students are accompanied by dependants their family members will have to show that they have their own money - details of these requirements are available on the UKBA website.
•    Evidence of finances must indicate that the money has been available to the applicant for a period of 28 days at the time of application ie on the day it is posted to UKBA
Please note that under the new system there will not be a facility to send additional information in support of an application once the documents have been received by UKBA.  All documents must be present at the time of application.

What to do if you are studying at a different University

If you are a Tier 4 General Student you cannot switch to another education provider without seeking permission from UKBA. How you do this will depend on when you were first granted your Tier 4 General visa.
If your first Tier 4 General Visa was issued after 5th October 2009 you will need to make a new application to stay in the UK.  If you have already entered the UK using your Tier 4 visa you must make the application from inside the UK; an application made outside the UK will be refused.  If your visa has been granted in your home country but you have not yet travelled to the UK you can make the application to change sponsors from your home country.
You can start a course with your new sponsor as long as they are a Highly Trusted Sponsor (the University of St Andrews is a Highly Trusted Sponsor), you have a visa to study  in the UK and a CAS has been assigned for your new course.  You must apply for a new Tier 4 General Visa as soon as possible after starting your new course; you cannot wait until your current visa is about to expire.  An appointment will be made with an International Student Adviser who will assist you with your application.
You can start your new course, but you must be aware that you do so at your own risk as your application for a visa may be refused.
If your current Tier 4 Visa was issued between 31 March 2009 and 5 October 2009 you will be required to complete Form T4 (PTS).  You must keep evidence that you have made an application to UKBA otherwise you will be unable to matriculate at the University.

Making an application for an extension of stay as a student from your Home Country

Current students that are returning home during vacation periods can apply for a new visa if their current visa is due to expire.  This is not known as an extension application, it is in effect a new Entry Clearance application, therefore students should follow the advice for new applications here.  However you must be aware that, if your student Visa has expired when you make the application overseas you will be unable to take advantage of the established presence concession detailed below.
The money required by returning students will be significantly less than new applicants if their last period of leave was issued for a course that was more than six months in duration.  If this is the case the student will need to show that they have access to or have paid all of their fees and £1200 for living costs.  If the student is in University accommodation and has paid all of their accommodation fees they will not need to show £1200 for maintenance.

Pre-sessional Students

It is vital that students on pre-sessional courses have evidence of finances ready to make their applications for visa extensions at the end of their pre-sessional courses.  This money must either be in a bank in the UK, and have been in that account for 28 days at the time of application, or be paid to the University, or in a bank account in China in the students’ name (translation of statements and a conversion into GBP will be necessary).  Due to new requirements and time constraints, pre-sessional students will no longer be able to rely on funds in their parents' account.
Students that have studied a pre-sessional course who need to extend their visa at the end of the course will need to show that they have the full maintenance requirement ie. one years’ tuition fee and £5400 for their next course unless they were studying in the UK for more than six months immediately prior to embarking on their pre-sessional course.
On successful completion of the pre-sessional course, students will be issued with aCertificate of Acceptance of Study (CAS) to enable the student to apply for an extension of their student visa.  Students should collect an application form from Student Services and make an appointment to see the International Student Adviser before the permission to be in the UK expires.

Postgraduate Students and Academic Extensions

If an International postgraduate student requires additional time to complete their studies which will be beyond the expiration date of their VISA they must ensure they have followed the University processes for extending study.  After deciding that addition time is needed by consultation with their supervisor, the student should contact the relevant Pro-Dean who will take the matter to the Faculty Business Committee.  A request for additional time must be made at least 3 months in advance of the VISA expiration date.
If the subject that you are studying is subject to ATAS Clearance the application must be made and complete before an application can be made.  Please note, that if you already have an ATAS Certificate for your current course it will still be valid.

How to prove financial support?

•    Cash in an account in the applicants name (this includes joint accounts), funds must be instantly accessible and have been in the account for 28 days or more
•    If the student is receiving financial support from their parents they will require a letter of support from the parent, three months bank statements (dated no more than one month before the application date) and the students birth certificate
•    A loan in the students’ name
•    Official or government sponsorship
Please note that financial support documents from family members (other than parents) will not be accepted as proof of financial support.
Print out of electronic statements will be accepted but must include the following information:
•    The account holders name
•    Account number
•    Date of statement
•    The bank name and logo
•    The amount of money available
•    The official stamp of the bank
•    Letter and official financial documents from parents confirming willingness and ability to provide financial support
Bank statements must be dated less than one month before the application is made and the required maintenance must have been in the account for 28 days or more before the application date.
Financial confirmation will be difficult for some students to prove if the account they hold is in a bank outside of the St Andrews area, failure to provide this specific financial information at the time of application will result in the application being refused.  Forward planning is essential; students are advised to keep all official bank statements sent to them from the bank in a safe place to use at the time of application.  If these documents are not sent to the applicant by the bank then arrangements must be made to provide this information.
If money is held in a bank account out of the UK a statement from the account must be provided with a conversion of the closing balance into pounds sterling from theOANDA website on the date of issue of the statement.

What is the Confirmation of Acceptance of Study (CAS)?

This is in the form of a unique number, generated through the UKBA electronic system by the University and will be issued by Admissions for new students, or the International Student Adviser for returning students.  It will include information about the chosen course of study, fees due, any fees paid, how the student was assessed as eligible to enter the University and the University's details.
Students should not attempt to make an application without a CAS as the application will be automatically refused; please make contact with eitherAdmissions for applicants, or Student Services if you are a returning student.

What is an ATAS Certificate?

Students who are undertaking research in certain subject areas will need to apply for an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) Certificate.  The requirement for ATAS clearance is determined by the JACS code and subject are of the students’ course and has nothing to do with nationality.  This scheme was launched in 2006 and became compulsory in 2008; it is managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its primary function is to prevent the development of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
If students need to apply for ATAS clearance they must do so before they start the visa application process, ATAS clearance can take up to a month to come through in busy periods. The student will need to provide details of their specific area of research, which will need to be confirmed in writing by Admissions for new students, or the student's Academic Supervisor for returning students.
More details of the ATAS scheme are available on the FCO website.

What are the University's duties under the role of a sponsor?

As a sponsor the University is required by UKBA to carry out some specific duties; the main one that will affect students directly is monitoring attendance.  The University is required, by law, to report when a student does not register for the course of study, stops attending or has periods of unauthorised absence.  The University is required to know at any given time the whereabouts of a student which they have sponsored.  Full details of sponsor's duties are available on theUKBA website.
Students must self-certify through their student portal if they are going to miss matriculation, registration, lectures, tutorials, seminars or any other compulsory element of their course.  Specific contact points will be established for Research students.
Students’ that fail to register with the University, stop attending or meeting compulsory deadlines will be reported to UKBA.

How can the University help with visa applications?

The Student Advisers in Student Services will look over the application with you to ensure that the information that is given about the University is correct and that the information about your funding agrees with what is entered on the CAS and held on the University system.  It is important that you take time to check your application form and take the opportunity to carefully check the application with the Adviser, as the application remains your responsibility and this will be the last opportunity to ask questions and make corrections.
It is important to note that there are often trends in decision making by UKBA Caseworkers; if the Advisers are aware of these they may ask for a specific document, piece of information or that you change something that you have provided.  This is to try and ensure that your application goes through without delay.
Once complete the application will be posted from the Student Services offices to the Student Batch Scheme at UK Border Agency, by Recorded Delivery.  The Advisers do not have any powers of persuasion over UKBA Caseworkers, and cannot guarantee visa approval, processing times etc.

Students should be aware that application times vary, and can be very long during busy times (predominantly August – December); travel arrangements should not be made until the applicants passport and ID Card/BRP are returned.
Appointments can be made by visiting Student Services, 2nd Floor, Students' Union Building, by email or by phoning 01334 462720.