International Student Support
Here to help you
The International Student Support office provides a professional immigration advice service to international applicants and current international students of the University.
The Team works within OISC standards offering a high level of support and advice on UK student visas and related post-study options as well as providing an informed and supportive referral service for other student issues. The International Student Support office aims to help you transition from your home country to life in Belfast and to help you make the most of your time at Queen’s University Belfast.
1. Points Based System (PBS) Tier 4 (General) Student Visa
The Points Based System (PBS) reflects the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) rules and includes the concept of Sponsorship, in which education providers must be licensed by the UKVI. Queen’s University is a Tier 4 Sponsor and has a UKVI Sponsor Licence. Under PBS students who wish to enter the UK apply under Tier 4 (General) Student Visa.
The leaflet – ‘Studying at Queen’s: Visas and the Points Based System’ outlines the procedures in more detail. However, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact International Student Support – firstname.lastname@example.org
These immigration rules are subject to change and it is your responsibility to check the UK Visas and Immigration website:
As a Tier 4 visa applicant and visa holder, it is your responsibility to be aware of, and comply with, the requirements of your visa. When you apply for a Tier 4 visa you must include a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number. The University will assign your CAS number through the UKVI system. In advance of issuing your CAS, the Admissions and Access Service will send you a form for you to provide details of any previous study in the UK, including copies of previous visa stamps. This form must be returned before a CAS can be issued.
The CAS number will be included in a letter called a ‘CAS statement’ which will be sent to you by the Admissions and Access Service. This will have important information that you need for your visa application.
Important note: A CAS statement (including a CAS number) will only be sent to those applicants who have firmly accepted an unconditional offer of a place. It is important therefore that you inform the Admissions and Access Service as soon as possible whether you wish to accept or decline your offer.
How do I obtain my CAS?
- You must have firmly accepted an unconditional offer before your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) can be issued. This means that we must be in receipt of your final transcripts and certificates confirming the award of your qualifications and, if applicable, English language results. For postgraduate applicants, these documents should be scanned and uploaded to the Direct Applications Portal. Please make sure you include your Application number and full name in any correspondence with us. This will help us to administer your application efficiently.
- Once you have met all the admission requirements for your chosen course of study, you will receive an unconditional offer letter. You will then be able to accept your your place through the Direct Application Portal - https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/ to confirm that you intend to take up your place.
- You must also complete the UK Visa and Immigration form (UKVI). This form will ask you to confirm if you have previously studied in the UK. Download UKVI form, complete and email to email@example.com. You should include scanned copies of any previous UK Visa permission stamps.
- All applicants who are required to obtain ATAS clearance must provide evidence to the Admissions and Access Service that they have already submitted an application for ATAS clearance. This should be in the form of a screenshot from your application record on the ATAS online application system.
- And finally, please scan and email a copy of the photographic page of your passport to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once in receipt of all the above, we will be able to proceed to issue your CAS.
Check your CAS statement carefully when you receive it. If you notice any errors with any element of your CAS statement, please inform the Admissions and Access Service as soon as possible. This includes errors with course start and end dates, course titles and level of the course.
Find more information on Visa and the Points Based System at the International Student Support website.
Information on the PBS is also available at UK Visas and Immigration website.
These immigration rules are subject to change and it is your responsibility to check the UK Visas and Immigration website (https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration).
If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national, the University is required to check your immigration documents to ensure that you have correct immigration permission to study at Queen's before you can enrol. All non-EU/EEA/Swiss students must present their passport and visa or other immigration permission to the International Student Support Office, who will take a photocopy and check your right to study. This process is normally carried out during International Welcome and Orientation.
2. Extension of Leave – Students who are currently studying at Queen’s
If you are currently studying at Queen’s and need to extend your visa you should contact the International Student Support Office at email@example.com who will advise on the procedures and the appropriate forms to complete. If you have completed the course for which your visa was granted and will be moving to a new course at Queen’s, please contact International Student Support before your current course ends so we can provide you with information about applying for a visa for your new course, including the amount of money you will need to show in maintenance, and the timeline for making an application.
3. Extension of Leave – Students who are currently studying elsewhere in the UK
If you are studying at another educational institution in the UK and you want to extend your visa to study at Queen’s University, you will need a CAS. A CAS statement will be sent to those applicants who have firmly accepted an unconditional offer of a place.
Please note that the UKVI has very specific guidelines relating to the length of time an applicant may study in the UK, and what types of ‘academic progression’ must be demonstrated when starting a second course in the UK. Please see the most up to date Tier 4 Policy Guidance for details: (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-application-for-uk-visa-as-tier-4-student)
4. Extension of Leave – Migrants already in the UK who wish to study at Queen’s
Depending on the type of visa you currently have, it might be possible for you to study without switching (changing) to a student visa. If you are not sure about your visa and whether you can study please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) applies to non-EU/EEA nationals undertaking research in Science, Engineering or Technology disciplines or postgraduate taught Masters courses in Materials Science, Materials Technology, Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or Physics. For students covered by the scheme, an ATAS clearance certificate will be required before application for a visa or entry clearance can be made i.e. it will be a mandatory part of the immigration process.
This is a requirement for most immigration categories, even those who do not require a Tier 4 visa, but who may have been granted another form of time-limited leave to remain eg. as a dependant, family member, or refugee. The only exception is for applicants holding Indefinite Leave to Enter/Remain or other form of unlimited leave.
An ATAS clearance certificate is valid for 6 months from the date of issue by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. You can apply for an ATAS certificate up to 6 months in advance of the beginning of your programme. For example, if your programme begins on 14 September 2016, you should not apply for your ATAS clearance certificate until after 14 March 2016.
If you require ATAS clearance, you should apply in good time. Please do not wait until your offer becomes unconditional, as your visa application could be delayed, while you are waiting for ATAS clearance to be granted.
If you require an ATAS clearance certificate, an attachment will be provided with your offer letter. This will include confirmation of your personal and programme details, the JACS code for your area of study (used by the immigration authorities to determine if ATAS clearance is needed or not) and a brief description of your proposed research topic or in the case of taught programmes, a list of the modules you will be studying. It is important that you retain this attachment as it is required when you are completing your application for ATAS clearance and also later when applying for a visa/entry clearance. The University reference number which you will be asked for is your application number provided in the offer letter and on the attachment.
For applicants to areas where ATAS clearance is not required but where we feel there may be some doubt on the part of entry clearance officers, a short attachment will be provided and the JACS code for your programme of study will be included on this. This should help to simplify the entry clearance process for you.
Full details about the scheme, including the ATAS application, can be found at http://www.fco.gov.uk/atas.
Working in the UK with a Student VISA
Can I work in the UK?
If you have been granted permission on your visa immigration status and you are enrolled on a full-time course of study you are permitted to work in accordance with your visa conditions. However, the University recommends that if you are studying full time, you work no more than 15 hours per week. If you bring your passport and visa (or Biometric Residence Permit) to International Student Support we can confirm whether or not you can work.
If you have a student visitor visa or did not apply for entry clearance prior to travelling to the UK, then you cannot work in the UK. Please check with your School before you start to work as although the legal limit to work is 20 hours per week there might be restrictions set by your Schools which mean that you cannot work as many hours as your visa permits.
I have found a job but have been asked for a National Insurance Number – what is this?
If you are going to take paid employment in the UK, you will need a National Insurance (NI) number. Every NI number is unique and made up of letters and numbers like this example: AB 12 34 56 C (example only). You can start work while you are waiting for your National Insurance number. For further information on applying for a National Insurance Number, please see here.
Voluntary work Voluntary work is unpaid work which gives you the chance to meet local people of all ages and backgrounds and to learn more about Belfast and your local community. Voluntary work helps you develop employability skills such as leadership, communication and team-working while taking part in fun activities. It also enables you to provide a valuable service to the local community.
You can volunteer for just a few hours, or make a more long- term commitment. Voluntary work and your visa If you are in the UK on a student visa, voluntary work counts towards your 20 hours per week term-time working limit. If you have a student visitor visa, you cannot do voluntary work, as your visa prohibits all work, paid or unpaid. Contact International Student Support for further information.