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International Postgraduate students

Immigration and VISA procedures

The following section contains important information on student visas and the points based system (PBS) used to grant them within the UK.

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.

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.

The web page How do I obtain my CAS will explain the process.

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.

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 iss@qub.ac.uk 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.


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 iss@qub.ac.uk.


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.

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