Applying for a student visa overseas
The We Are International project have produced two videos to explain the Tier 4 (General) student visa application process for students applying from China, which can be viewed on their website, and from India which can be viewed to the right of the screen.
We have provided the information below, based upon common queries, to assist you with the application process however if you feel your query has not been answered below do contact the International Student Support team with your query.
Imperial College does not hold a Tier 4 (Child) licence and as a result are unable to sponsor any students who are under 16 years of age. Your age will be taken as the age that you are on the date of making your visa application.
Do I need a visa to study in the UK?
- You will be required to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa unless you hold a full British passport, a passport from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland or you already have a different type of visa that allows you to study for the full length of your course.
- If you will be studying for less than 6 months or attending the College as an occasional or visiting student then please refer to our Short-term Study visa webpage.
- Students on a part-time postgraduate course (excluding EMBA, Weekend MBA and Global MBA) will be required to apply for a part-time Tier 4 visa. Part-time students should refer to our Tier 4 Part-time study guidance.
Where do I apply for a visa?
You will need to apply from the country where you are a resident through the nearest British diplomatic post. Details of British Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions are available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
When can I apply?
- The earliest you can make a Tier 4 application is from 3 months before the start date of your course.
- You will be issued with a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) once you have met all the conditions of your offer (one of which may be ATAS).
- The length of time it takes to issue a visa varies so we recommend that you check the visa processing time in your country.
Will I have to undergo a TB screening?
Do I need to apply for ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme)
How do I make an application?
Our page for applications made outside the UK contains links to the relevant online application forms including the International Student Support help guide to completing an entry clearance Tier 4 (General) student visa application.
What documents will I need as part of my application?
For further information on the documents that you will need to prepare for your Tier 4 application please visit our documents page.
Will I have to attend an interview?
- As part of your UK visa application process overseas you may be interviewed by the Home Office and this is called a 'credibility interview'.
- A few initial questions will be asked at the time when you are providing your biometrics (fingerprints and photographs). This should take approximately 5 minutes and the questions will be carried out via a video link with a member of staff from the Home Office in the UK.
- The types of questions that you may be asked include: why you decided to study in the UK; why you decided to study at Imperial College or the particular course; basic questions about the course content; your immigration history and previous education.
- We advise that you make sure that you read information on your department's website to familiarise yourself with the course content for your particular programme.
- In the unlikely event that your visa application is refused on the basis of the credibility interview please contact International Student Support with a scan of the refusal letter so that we can advise you further.
Will I need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit?
Can I bring my family?
Please refer to our page on dependants for further information on eligiblity.
What is the Immigration Health Surcharge?
The health surcharge was introduced on 6 April 2015 and it applies to visa applications for courses that are more than 6 months long.
Cost: The health surcharge is £150 for Tier 4 students and £150 per dependant for each year of the visa granted. The health surcharge is incorporated into the online visa application form and is paid only once the application has been submitted online.
How the surcharge is calculated: The amount payable will be based on the maximum period of time for which a visa could be granted under the relevant application route (eg 17 months for a one year Masters course). Where the maximum period includes part of a year, a pro-rata payment will be applied. Where this is for six months or less, the amount payable will be half the annual surcharge. Where the period is for more than six months, the full yearly surcharge will be payable.
Healthcare provided to those who pay the surcharge: Health surcharge payers will be able to access the National Health Service in the same way as a permanent UK resident, i.e. they will receive NHS care generally free of charge but may be charged for services a permanent resident would also pay for, such as dental treatment and prescription charges in England
There are a limited number of exemptions to paying the health surcharge. You can read the full list of exemptions and further information about the health surcharge on the Home Office website.