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Extending Your Student Visa

Important notice

This page provides general information only. If your situation is complicated (for example if your visa has already expired, or you want to change course please come and talk to the international advice service or email

Can I apply?

VisaThere is a limit on the amount of time you can study in the UK with a Tier 4 (General) visa.

This is known as a ‘cap’ on study. You can now study for a maximum of two years on courses below degree level and five years on courses at degree level (undergraduate and Masters).

The cap on study on courses below degree was reduced to two years (from three years) from 12 November 2015. All applications for study below degree level made on or after this date will be subject to the new cap.

The five-year cap on study at NQF levels 6/7 (Undergraduate and Masters courses) remains unchanged, however the short extra time before a course (maximum one month) and after a course (maximum four months) is now included in the calculation .All the time you have held a Tier 4 visa (or old-style student permission) for courses at this level since turning 18 counts towards the five years.

If you cannot complete a course at Southampton Solent University because you do not have enough time left within the specified time limits, we may not be able to issue a confirmation of acceptance for study (CAS).

Please seek advice if you are concerned that this may apply to you.

PhD students are exempt from the cap, but would not be able to apply to study any more courses in the UK if the total time spent in the UK with student immigration permission would exceed eight years. 

More information on UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)

When should I apply?

If you are applying to extend your Tier 4 visa to continue the same course, you will need to email in the first instance. You will be required to prove that you are able to meet the Tier 4 Maintenance Requirements and have no outstanding fees for the current year before a CAS can be issued.

You can make your visa extension application as soon as the CAS has been issued and you meet the maintenance (financial) requirements. You must apply before your current visa expires.

If you are applying to extend your Tier 4 visa because you are starting a new course, you can only apply in the UK if the new course starts no more than 28 days after the date your current Tier 4 visa expires. If the gap between the visa ending and the new course starting is longer than this you must return home to apply for a visa. If you apply in the UK, your application will be refused.

How do I apply?

All in-country applications for Tier 4 extensions should be submitted via the web portal. From the Visas and Immigration tab you can navigate to the Tier 4 students page.

On the top right-hand corner you have the option either to 'log in' or 'register'. Click on the 'register' option which takes you to the screens you need to create an account on the UKVI portal. You will need to do this before you can complete the application form.

You should answer each question as accurately as possible. You may find it useful to use our guide ‘How to complete the online Tier 4 application’.

Before you submit your form on line we strongly advise that the International Advice Team check your answers to ensure that all sections have been correctly completed. We can also check your supporting documents to ensure that these meet the requirements of the immigration rules.

Immigration Health Surcharge

Please be aware that from April 2015 most students and their dependants applying to extend their Tier 4 leave in-country for any length of time will be liable to pay the immigration health surcharge (IHS) at the time of application.

Even if you are exempt from paying the charge you will still need to register and obtain an IHS reference number which is printed on the Tier 4 cover sheet you submit with your documents.

Payment of the charge will mean that you are entitled to receive free healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS) while you are in the UK. If you do not pay the charge your immigration application is liable to be refused.

The Government has announced that the immigration health surcharge will double, probably from December 2018. This means that if you plan to make a Tier 4 application around that time, you should ensure that you have enough money to pay £300 per year, instead of the current fee of £150.

IHS payment is compulsory and forms part of the Tier 4 visa on-line application.

Submitting your application

Once your application has been checked by an adviser you can pay the application fee and submit your application online. The visa application process is change now.

The Home Office has introduced a new service for those applying to extend their stay in the UK. Those wishing to extend their stay in the UK between 5th November to 29th November 2018, have the option of either applying using the new system or they can apply using the old system. From 30th November 2018 the old system will be replaced entirely by the new system.

The new application process will involve applying online by submitting your application and paying the visa and Immigration Health Surcharge fee. On making your application online, you will be able to opt for your preferred application method (standard, priority or premium service).

Once you have submitted your application online, you will need to book an appointment at one of the new six UKVCAS service points in order to provide your biometrics. UKVCAS service points are being rolled out at various times throughout the month of November. There will be a service point in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and Croydon. Attendance at one of the UKVCAS service points is free of charge.

At your appointment at a UKVCAS service point, you will provide your biometrics, confirm your identify (using your original passport) and scanyour original documents. Following your appointment you will be able to leave the service point with all your original documents and await a decision pending the application method you have chosen.

If you wish, you can scan and upload your documents yourself prior to your appointment.

 If you are unable to obtain an appointment at a free UKVCAS service point, you can book an appointment at one of the 50 ‘enhanced service points’ throughout the country. There will be an additional charge for using one of the enhanced service points which we understand is set at £55. The enhanced points in the south will be in Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Salisbury, full list is available on:

Supporting documents

1. Your certificate of acceptance for study (CAS)

This is a reference number unique to your application which the Home Office use to access the information held by Solent University about you and your course of study via a secure online portal.

It is a virtual document similar to a database record which will be sent to you by email. You will need the information in the email in order to apply. Each CAS number can only be used once. If you need to re-apply, you will need to request a new CAS number from Solent University in order to do so.

Please complete this CAS request form if you need to extend your visa to complete your current course of study, apply for a new visa to return to your studies after temporarily interrupting your studies or you wish to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme. Note, new students are provided with their CAS as part of the admissions process.

2. All passports you have used to travel to the UK

3. Your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) if you have one

4. Documents used to get the offer as listed in your CAS 

This means the educational qualifications that the University used to accept you for the course. You must provide the original certificates, including an official translation if these are not in English. If you are applying for an extension to complete a course and you provided these certificates as part of your original visa application then you will not normally be required to submit them again.

  • If you are relying on the exemption from requiring a Secure English Language Test(SELT) on the basis that you have obtained a qualification (equivalent to a Bachelors, Masters or PhD in the UK ) in a majority English speaking country, the applicant must include an original document from UK NARIC which confirms the assessment of it's equivalency.

5. Financial evidence (maintenance)

In order to successfully extend your visa you will need to show that you have enough money to satisfy the Tier 4 maintenance requirement.

You will normally need to provide bank statements in your own name, these must be less than one month old on the date of application and cover a full 28 day period, during which the balance must not have fallen below the amount of money you need to show.

If you are using your parents' bank statements you will also need to provide your birth certificate (with an official translation, if the original is not in English) and a letter from your parents confirming the money is for your UK education.

How much money do I need to show?

You will need to show that: 

  • you have paid your course fees, or have enough money to do so; and
  • you have the correct amount of maintenance. This depends on the length of your course. 
    • courses nine months or less: Total fees plus £1015 per month for length of course (from 12 November 2015).
    • course over nine months: First year of fees plus £1015 x 9 months = £9135.00 (from 12 November 2015)

6. Sponsor's letter (only if you are financially sponsored by your Government or other official financial sponsor)

If you are sponsored by your government or by an official financial sponsor, you will need to provide a letter confirming that they are sponsoring you for your programme of study.

The Tier 4 Policy Guidance defines an official financial sponsor as Her Majesty’s Government, your home government, the British Council or any international organisation, international company, university or an Independent School.
If you have an official financial sponsor you will not normally need to provide evidence of personal funds unless your sponsorship does not cover all of your tuition fees and maintenance.

7. Police registration certificate

If you were required to register with the police as part of your previous conditions you will need to provide your police registration certificate and ensure that it is up to date with your current address and visa expiry date.

Tier 4 application fees

Fees increase annually in April. From  April 2018 the cost of a ‘postal’ in-country Tier 4 application is £475.00 for the main applicant and £475 for each dependant (if applicable). Face to face (premium) applications attract additional fees.

Further advice

If you need any further information or advice please contact the international advice service by emailing

Page last updated on Monday 19 November 2018 at 11.38am.


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