International Student Support

Frequently Asked Questions - Before You Arrive

Do I need to apply for a visa?

My course is more than six months long:

If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national and you want to come to the UK to study a course that is more than six months long, you must apply for a Tier 4 general student visa.

My course is less than six months long:

If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national coming to the UK to study a course that is less than six months long you can:

1.      Apply for a Tier 4 general student visa

This will grant you a visa for the length of your course plus seven days before and seven days after your course.  You should apply for a Tier 4 visa if you want to look for a part-time job while you are studying at Queen’s, or if you think you might decide to extend your stay in the UK as a student.  If you are granted a Tier 4 visa you and the University must comply with the obligations which this will impose.  You can find more information about these obligations in our Points Based System section.

2.      Apply for a student visitor visa

This will grant you a period of up to six months in the UK to study.  You will not be permitted to work or extend your stay in the UK.  You must be over 18 years old to apply for a student visitor visa.

3.      Port of Entry stamp

We recommend that you get a visa before you arrive in the UK, as if immigration officers decide not to allow you to enter the country it will allow you to stay to appeal their decision.  However, if you are a non-visa national you will be able to enter the UK for a period of up to six months without having to apply for an entry clearance visa.  You must declare your intent to study to immigration officials when you arrive at a UK Port of Entry and you will get a stamp in your passport which will allow you to study.  You will not be allowed to work (paid or unpaid) and you will not be able to extend your stay in the UK. 


What is entry clearance?

When a person applies for a visa to come to the UK, this is known as 'entry clearance'.  In simple terms, it means that you have 'clearance', or permission,  to enter the UK.


What is leave to enter?

Leave to enter is what you seek when you meet with immigration officials on arrival in the UK.  When you get a stamp in your passport from immigration control you are given 'leave to enter'.


What type of student visa should I apply for?

Tier 4 (General) student visa

You should apply for a Tier 4 general student visa if you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national who is coming to the UK to study a course which is more than six months long, or if your course is less than six months long, but you wish to work or might want to extend your stay in the UK. 

Student visitor visa

You should apply for a student visitor visa if you are coming to do a course which is less than six months long, and you don’t want to work or extend your stay in the UK.

Port of Entry stamp

We recommend that you obtain a visa before you arrive in the UK, but if you are a non-visa national coming to study a course of less than six months and you do not want to work or extend your stay here, you can declare your intent to study when you arrive at immigration control in the UK.


I have received a conditional offer for my course.  Can I apply for my visa? 

No.  You will have to wait until you receive a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) before you can apply for your visa.  You will not receive your CAS until you have fulfilled the conditions of your offer and accepted an unconditional offer for your course.


Where do I apply for my visa?

You should apply for your visa at your nearest UK Embassy, Consulate, High Commission or Visa Application Centre (VAC).  In some countries you will be able to apply online.  You can find out more about how to apply at the UKVI Visa Services website.  If you are currently in the UK with valid immigration permission and wish to extend your visa from within the UK, please contact iss@qub.ac.uk for further advice. 


Where do I get the visa application form?

You can get your visa application form, or apply online, at the UK Visa Services website

For Student Visitor Visas you should use: VAF1D.


What documents will I need for my visa application form?

See our checklist section of this website.


Do I need an ATAS certificate?

You can find out full information about the Academic Technology Approval Scheme on the ATAS section of our website.


What is a CAS?

A CAS is a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies which you will need in order to apply for a Tier 4 student visa. Queen’s will assign your CAS to you after you have accepted an unconditional offer for your course. Your CAS is a secure electronic document which tells the Home Office information about you, your course, your fees and the qualifications you needed to get onto your course among other things. 

When your CAS is assigned, you will receive a CAS statement. This is a letter which will be emailed to you and will contain all of the information which Queen’s tell the Home Office in your CAS. It will also contain your CAS number. When you receive your CAS statement you must read it carefully and ensure that all of the information contained in it is correct. You must make sure that your passport number is correct and you must use the same passport to apply for your visa as the one which you have provided to Queen’s. If the information in your CAS statement is not correct, then you must tell us immediately so that we can tell the Home Office. CAS number will score you 30 points when making your visa application. If you do not have a CAS then your Tier 4 student visa will be refused.

Can I change institution before I leave my home country?

If you are still in your home country and you want to change institution you will have to tell Queen’s so we can cancel your CAS and you will need to apply to your new institution which will provide you with a new CAS number. You will then need to re-apply for a visa.

Can I change institution when I get to the UK?

You will be expected by UKVI to arrive and enrol on your course at Queen’s. If you want to change institution you will have to tell Queen’s so we can cancel your CAS. You will need to apply to your new institution which will provide you with a new CAS certi?cate number and you will need to apply for a new Tier 4 general student visa from the UKVI. If you apply to UKVI to make this change while you are in the UK, the charge will be approximately £422. You may have to stay in Belfast while you are waiting for a decision from UKVI and might only be able to start your course at the new institution when your new visa has been granted. You should come and see International Student Support if you want to move institutions.

Can I use my CAS from Queen’s to study at a different University?

You should note that if you have a visa using a CAS from Queen's University you will only be permitted to study at Queen's.  If you decide to change institution when you come to the UK you will need to get a new CAS from you new institution and then you will need to apply for permission from the Home Office. It is likely that this change of sponsor application will cost approximately £422 and you will not be able to start studying at your new sponsor institution until you are granted permission. You should check the Home Office website for full information.


I have a question about the application form.  Where can I get help?

If you can't find your answer here, please contact the International Student Support team at iss@qub.ac.uk.


What are entry qualifications?

Entry qualifications are the qualifications which you needed to have to gain an unconditional offer to your course.  These are listed on your CAS statement under ‘Entry qualifications’.  You must always submit the original certificates of qualification or the original transcripts with your visa application.


What are the English language requirements for my course?

You can find out more about English language requirements here.  However, the English language requirements will be stated on you CAS statement under ‘Entry requirements’.


What is Biometric Data and will I need to provide it?

You will need to provide ‘biometric’ information as part of the visa application process. This biometric information consists of an electronic scan of all of your fingerprints and a full-face digital photograph. You will have to go to the nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC) in person to provide this biometric information. Your visa application will not be processed until you have provided the necessary biometric information. The whole procedure should take no more than five minutes to complete.


What is the Immigration Health Surcharge?

Recent legislation introduced requires all non-EEA nationals coming to the UK for longer than 6 months, including Tier 4 students, to pay a healthcare surcharge to access health services during their stay in the UK. This must be paid before you complete your visa application and is charged at £150 per year and £75 for part of a year less than 6 months. You can find more information on the UKVI website here. We recommend that you complete the checking service online here to verify how much you should pay.
 
All students studying courses of longer than 1 year are automatically granted 4 extra months immigration permission from the end date of their course. You must ensure that this extra time is included in your overall payment–for example if your course starts on 15 Sept 2015 and finishes 30 Sept 2016,with the extra 4 months the total due is £225.
 
For further information please see the Immigration health surcharge page of this website.
 

What are the immigration rules for my husband/wife/civil partner?

Information is available on the International Student Support website here


How long does the visa application process take?

It will take a different length of time in each place, however, you can get a general idea of how long your application will take here.


How soon can I apply for my Tier 4 student visa?

Once you have met all the requirements of Tier 4, you can apply for your visa up to three months before the start date of your course.  If you apply more than three months before, your visa application will be refused.  However, you should apply as far in advance as possible in order to get your visa in time to travel to Belfast for the start date of your course.


If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national, you should plan to arrive at a UK port of entry.  Click here for a map showing all main UK airports.  This is very important for your visa because when you are granted your entry clearance visa in your home country, you will be granted permission to enter the UK.  When you enter at the UK port of entry the Immigration Officer at Border Control will stamp your passport/visa.  This signifies that you have been granted 'leave to enter' the UK; i.e. you have been given permission to stay in the UK for the duration of your visa. 

While we strongly recommend that you do not come to Belfast via the Republic of Ireland, if you choose to do so then you MUST obtain prior entry clearance: your passport/visa will be stamped by Irish Immigration Control and this will only grant you permission to enter the Common Travel Area (Republic of Ireland, UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Mann) for up to three months as a visitor.  If you have no visa and come through the Republic of Ireland then your immigration status may not allow you to study.  Please do not put your studies at risk by entering via the Republic of Ireland.  Contact us if you want to discuss this further; we will be very happy to go through your options with you.


Do I need medical examinations?

Some Embassies will expect applicants to have a medical examination and chest X-ray before coming to the UK. You should check with your nearest Embassy if this is a requirement for you. Examinations are held at clinics approved by the Embassy, and you will be given a certi?cate to present with your entry clearance application. You will have to pay a fee for the examination.


What is a Credibility Interview?

A Tier 4 student applying from outside the UK may be asked to undertake a very short interview to determine whether UKVI assess you to be a genuine student. This interview will be held at the Visa Application Centre usually at the same time as you enrol your biometric information. In order to prepare for this interview, you should review all the information about your course, and ensure that you have memorised the names and general content of all the course modules, and information on your course listed on your CAS such as the exact title, course start and end dates. You should also prepare some information on why you want to study this course at Queen’s. If you have any questions about this, please email us at iss@qub.ac.uk.

You should allow several weeks for your application to be processed as Visa Application Centres are very busy in the summer months. Remember: you will not be able to apply for your visa any earlier than three months before the start of your course so you must plan your visa application to get your visa and arrive on time for the International Welcome and Orientation Programme and the start of your course.


My visa application is taking a long time.  Can Queen's contact the Embassy to ask them to speed up my application?

Queen's cannot contact an entry clearance post to ask for priority on a student's application.  It is extremely important that you prepare your visa application and documents and apply well in advance of your course start date to allow you to receive your visa on time.


My application has been refused.  What should I do?

If your application is refused you must contact iss@qub.ac.uk immediately and send us a scanned copy of the refusal letter.  We will then help you.  You must not use the same CAS to apply again.


I don't think I will get my visa on time to arrive for the start date of my course.  What should I do?

The start date of your course is stated on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). Your CAS may also show a latest start date. You must plan to arrive for the original start date of your course and only in exceptional circumstances should you arrive later. It is extremely important that you are well prepared and that you apply for your visa in advance of the start date of your course to allow you to arrive on time.  

However, if for any reason you cannot arrive for the date shown on your CAS statement, you must contact iss@qub.ac.uk. If you will not arrive by the latest start date as shown on your CAS, it is unlikely that you will be allowed to start your course. If you have already applied for your visa but you cannot arrive on time, we must make a report to the Home Office. If we know the reason that you will be late, and the University is willing to accept you on to the course, we will tell the Home Office. If we do not know the reason for the delay, we will report you to the Home Office and you are likely to face difficulty if you come to the UK.


Do I have to attend the International Welcome and Orientation programme?

The Register for Welcome Week programme is compulsory for all international students. That means that you must attend. For Tier 4 students whose classes start at the beginning of term, the 'start date' on their CAS will be the first day of the Welcome and Orientation programme. This means that both the University and the Home Office will expect you to arrive to participate in the Welcome and Orientation programme on that day. 

If you have an important reason for not attending the Welcome and Orientation programme, please contact iss@qub.ac.uk to let us know.


Can I use my visa for QUB to study at another institution?

If you have been issued with a visa using a CAS from Queen's then you can only use it to study at Queen's.  Your visa will show Queen's University's Sponsor Licence Number and this ties you to studies at Queen's University.  If you decide to study at another institution, you must tell Queen's as soon as possible and we will make a report to the Home Office.  You must then contact your new institution for further information and guidance on what to do next.


What should I bring with me to show to immigration control when I arrive?

For a full list of important documents to carry in your hand luggage, see the checklist in our handbook.


What if I get a visa and then decide not to come to Belfast?

If you are issued with a visa to come to study at Queen's and then you decide not to, you must let us know as soon as possible.  If you do not arrive on time to start your course, we will notify the Home Office and your visa is likely to be curtailed.

Can I work in the UK?

Please visit the 'Working in the UK' section of our website.


What length will my visa be?