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Visa Advice

If you're a prospective student looking to join the University of Central Lancashire, please read through this information carefully before you apply for your visa to find out whether you need one, how to apply, and what documents you may need. Please note all information is correct at the time of publication.

If you are an overseas student planning to study in the UK you will need to apply for a visa in order to study here. Depending on your length of study you will need one of the following types of visa:

  • Student Route Visa (for courses that are 6 months or longer)*
  • Standard Visitor Visa (for short courses that are no longer than 6 months)
  • Short Term Study Visa (for English language courses lasting longer than 6 months and up to 11 months)

Please read the information below to decide which type of visa you will need then click on the links to find more details. You should apply for either type of visa before you leave your home country; doing this is called applying for ‘entry clearance’.

If you are unsure if you need a visa in order to study in the UK please read the gov.uk Check if you need a UK visa webpage.

*previously known as Tier 4

Student Route visa is for you if you are coming to the UK to study here on a full-time programme of study for more than 6 months. You may be allowed to do limited work on a Student Route visa; you may be allowed to bring your family with you (provided you meet certain criteria) and you may be allowed to extend your Student Route visa in the UK, depending on your circumstances.

You must apply for a Student Route visa in your home country; you cannot apply for a Student Route visa when you arrive in the UK. It is very important that you prepare carefully before you apply for a Student Route visa.

  1. You need to have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from UCLan before you can apply for a Student Route visa. The CAS is an electronically generated reference number which the University gets from the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Sponsor Management System (SMS). In order to receive a CAS from UCLan you must meet the following conditions:
    • You must have an unconditional offer
    • You must have met all our academic conditions
    • You must have paid the relevant deposit
    • You must have provided details requested of previous academic study, visas and passport
    • You must have received your Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if it is required to study on your course (please see the ‘Evidence you will need to have when you apply for your visa’ section below)

    Your CAS number will be sent to you in an unconditional offer letter from UCLan; you will receive your CAS number up to a maximum of 6 months before your course starts. Please note:

    • A CAS can be used only once
    • A CAS expires after 6 months
    • A CAS can be used 6 months before you start your course if you are applying from overseas
    • A CAS can be used 3 months before you start your course if you are applying from inside the UK

  2. You need to have the right amount of money available to you for the right period of time.
    If you are coming to the UK as a single student (i.e. you're not bringing any dependants) you will need to show that you have your tuition fees for one year and £1,023 per month to cover living expenses. You are only required to demonstrate you have the money needed for living expenses for up to 9 months (£9,207). You must have this money for at least 28 consecutive days. The end date of the 28-day period must be within 31 days of the date you apply for your visa.

    If you plan to bring dependants with you; a dependant is your husband/wife or partner or your child/children. Not all Student Route applicants are allowed to bring dependants with them. To bring a dependant with you, you must either be:
    • Sponsored by a government on a course longer than 6 months
      or
    • Studying a postgraduate level course of 12 months or longer

For further information please visit the gov.uk Student Visa – your Partner and Children webpage.

Please note: We cannot guarantee that you will get a second CAS if your visa application is refused; please read the information below to help make sure that your visa application is successful.

A variety of visa processing services may be available depending on where you are applying from. Please check the gov.uk Get a faster decision on your visa or settlement application webpage for more information.

Immigration rules can change at short notice and you would need to be aware of any updates. Before applying for your visa you should refer to both the Student and Child Visa Caseworker Guidance Document in conjunction with the Immigration Rules: Appendix Student in order to ensure you are familiar with any updates to the immigration rules before you make your visa application.

When you can apply depends on whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.

Applying from outside the UK

The earliest you can apply for a visa is 6 months before you start your course. You’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. You can also visit the gov.uk Visa decision waiting times: applications outside the UK webpage for the processing times in your country.

Applying from inside the UK

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before your course starts. You must apply before your current visa expires. Your new course must begin within 28 days of your current visa expiring. You’ll usually get a decision within 8 weeks.

Evidence you will need to have when you apply for your visa

Information under 1. and 2. below applies to all students; information under 3. and 4. applies to certain students only; please read through carefully first to check which sections are relevant to you.

1. Unconditional Offer Letter which contains your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)
Please check all details on your unconditional offer letter as soon as you receive it. If you believe there are any errors in it, or if any details have changed (eg. passport number) please inform the University Admissions team.

2. Money
You will need to demonstrate that you have:

  • your tuition fees for one year
    and
  • £1,023 per month to cover living expenses. You are only required to demonstrate you have the money needed for living expenses for up to 9 months (£9,207). You must have this money for at least 28 consecutive days. The end date of the 28-day period must be within 31 days of the date you apply for your visa.

For students funded by a parent or parents

This money must be in cash funds in a bank account, not on credit cards or in the form of assets or shares. If you’re using money of a parent or parents you’ll need to show they have the required amount of money in an account.

You can provide:

  • bank statements
  • building society passbooks
  • certificates of deposit
  • a letter from their bank or building society

The bank statement should show information such as:

  • the date it was issued
  • your parent’s or parents’ name(s)
  • the name of the bank or building society
  • balance on the account

You can provide a download of electronic bank statements as long as it has this information. You do not need to have these stamped by the bank.

The Home Office may do verification checks with banks. If they are unable to verify the funds, then your application may be refused.

If you are using a bank account in your parent’s or parents’ name(s) to provide the money you need for your visa application, you must also provide your original birth certificate and an original letter from your parent or parents that clearly states that the money in the account is for your tuition fees and/or living expenses in the UK. Your parent’s or parents’ bank account must be a personal (not business) account.

3. ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme)
Some students who are going to study certain courses in engineering, science or technology need to have ATAS clearance from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) before they can apply for a Student Route visa. Your unconditional offer letter from UCLan will show your CAH code and should state whether you need an ATAS certificate. You can also visit the gov.uk Find out if you need an ATAS certificate webpage to find if you require an ATAS certificate.

You should allow plenty of time to get an ATAS certificate; it usually takes around 20 working days to process the ATAS application. There is no fast-track service.

Please read the gov.uk guidance on applying for an ATAS certificate carefully before you make your ATAS application.

4. TB Test
Students from certain countries need to have a valid TB test before they can apply for a Student Route visa. Please visit the gov.uk Tuberculosis tests for visa applicants webpage to check whether you need a TB test. The website lists approved test clinics where you can have the test.

Once you have collected together all the documents and evidence you need for your Student Route visa, as set out above, you can apply online.

It should take you only a short time to complete your online application; please ensure you register first to create an account; this takes just a few minutes and you can do this immediately before you do your online application.

Please note:

On your visa application you will be given the choice to either collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) (see below) from a post office or to collect it from UCLan. Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, UCLan is not taking delivery of BRPs. You should not choose the option which allows you to collect it from UCLan. Instead, you should arrange for the BRP to be delivered to a convenient post office within the UK and close to your term time accommodation.

Biometrics

‘Biometrics’ means facial image and fingerprints; all Student Route applicants need to provide facial image and fingerprints as part of the visa application process. You usually do this when you attend an appointment at the British Embassy or Visa Application Centre (VAC); after you complete your online visa application, you will receive an appointment time and date. Check where your Visa Application Centre is.

Interviews

Some Student Route visa applicants may be required to attend either one or two interviews at the Visa Application Centre. Interviews are done to establish that you are a genuine student. The first interview is done via Skype or video link with UKVI staff based in the UK and lasts around 5 minutes and is recorded. A transcript of the recording is then sent to the Entry Clearance Office in the Visa Application Centre who then decides whether a second interview is needed in order to be assured that you are a genuine student. Second interviews are done face-to-face in the Visa Application Centre with the Entry Clearance Officer.

Please take a look at the Credibility Interview information we have produced which contains useful information regarding the credibility interview process. You'll find this at the end of the page.

Receiving your visa

Your visa will be given to you in two stages:

The first stage is a sticker (called a ‘vignette’) which covers one page in your passport. The vignette is valid for only 30 days from your planned date of travel to the UK.

The second stage is when you receive your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP); the BRP covers the remaining length of your course, plus some time after your course which is known as the 'wrap-up period'. The amount of ‘wrap-up period’ you will receive depends on the length of your course. You will need to collect the BRP yourself after you arrive in the UK. You will receive correspondence from The Home Office which contains the address where to collect your BRP from.

Post office collection

If you selected to collect your BRP from a post office you will have been asked to identify the post office by postcode which offers the BRP collection service. The BRP letter you received from the Home Office will confirm the delivery address and date the BRP will be available from. No appointment is necessary to collect your BRP. You should not attempt to collect your BRP if you have been required to undergo a quarantine or self-isolation period on arrival in the UK. You should only collect your BRP after this period has expired as anyone trying to do so may be refused service by the post office.

When you go to the Post Office to collect your BRP, you will need to take your passport containing your Entry Clearance Vignette (ECV) with you; full guidance can be found on the Government website.

If you are under 18 years of age you cannot collect your BRP on your own and you must nominate another person who is over 18 to do this and they need to accompany you to the post office. In this circumstance we would advise you to nominate someone who meets the criteria and is within your bubble, either a family member or a flat/housemate. Please see details at the Government website.

After you have collected your BRP please check that it is correct; you should check the spelling of your name, the date of birth, the work conditions and the length of your visa. Please scan and send the front and back of your BRP to the Student Immigration and Compliance Team . We will upload this onto your file on the UCLan Student Record Database. When on campus activity resumes, we will be required to check the original copy of the BRP. You will be invited to attend an appointment for it to be checked against the copy we have on the student record which will then fulfil the Home Office documentary requirements.

The University Alternative Collection Location (ACL)

The University main campus is currently closed for BRP deliveries.

If you selected the University as an ACL, you will need to follow the procedure below as the University has joined the Home Office Post Arrival Process (PAP) for BRP delivery. The University is notified by the Home Office on a weekly basis of any student who used the ACL code and whose BRP has not yet been produced. Once we receive this information from the Home Office, we will contact you to confirm that you are in the UK by requesting that you send us a clear picture of the stamped Entry Clearance Vignette (ECV) from your passport which confirms your arrival. We will also request that you provide us with an address that you will be staying at for next 28 days so that we can ask for the Home Office to produce your BRP and arrange for it to be delivered to you.

After you receive your BRP please check that it is correct; you should check the spelling of your name, the date of birth, the work conditions and the length of your visa. Please scan and send the front and back of your BRP to the Student Immigration and Compliance Team . We will upload this onto your file on the UCLan Student Record Database. When on campus activity resumes, we will be required to check the original copy of the BRP. You will be invited to attend an appointment for it to be checked against the copy we have on the student record which will then fulfil the Home Office documentary requirements.

If your visa application is refused, UKVI will explain the reason/s for the refusal in a letter (called a visa refusal notice).

You must immediately scan and email this letter to the University Admissions team and let us know whether you might wish to request a refund of your tuition fee deposit. If you decide to submit an Administrative Review to UKVI then you must immediately notify the University’s Student Immigration and Compliance Team to avoid having your sponsorship withdrawn.

If you decide to submit an Administrative Review to UKVI you must do this within 28 days of receiving your refusal notice. An Administrative Review is appropriate if you think that UKVI has made a mistake in refusing your visa. You cannot give UKVI new information in an Administrative Review.

UKVI will tell you the result of your Administrative Review within 28 days of the date you submit it to them.

For further advice or support with your Student Route visa application please contact the Student Immigration and Compliance Team.

The Standard Visitor Visa is for you if you are coming to the UK to study here for 6 months or less; for example if you are an exchange student coming to study for a semester or if you're coming to study on a short course e.g. ‘Postgraduate Dentistry.’

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel to the UK.

Please be aware that you may not need to actually apply for a Standard Visitor Visa. What you need to do depends on your nationality and what you plan to do in the UK. Please see the gov.uk Check if you need a UK visa webpage for more information.

  • you cannot extend a Standard Visitor Visa in the UK
  • you cannot bring members of your family (dependants) with you
  • you cannot work in the UK
  • you are not entitled to use the National Health Service; you would need to arrange private medical insurance

For more information on the Standard Visitor Visa and how to apply, visit the GOV.UK Standard Visitor Visa webpages.

You can apply for a Short-term study visa to study English language in the UK. This visa is for English language courses lasting longer than 6 months and up to 11 months.

You must apply online before you come to the UK. The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel to the UK.

Please note that on a Short-term study visa:

  • you cannot study on any other course or change your course while in the UK
  • you cannot work in the UK
  • you cannot extend your leave
  • you cannot bring members of your family (dependants) with you

For more information on the Short-term study visa for studying English in the UK, visit the GOV.UK Study English in the UK (Short-term study visa) webpages.

What is a credibility interview?

Credibility interviews are part of the Student Route visa application process, they were introduced by United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to try and ensure that only genuine students are studying in the UK.

The Home Office intends to interview most Student Route student applicants before granting them immigration permission to come to the UK. Therefore you might be sent an email asking you to attend an interview as part of the application process. You should check your email (including the 'junk' folder) regularly as your application is likely to be refused if you are asked to attend an interview and you do not do so without providing a reasonable explanation.

What is the purpose of the interview?

The interview is to check that you are a genuine student. During the interview you will be asked questions about your background, immigration history, about the studies you are planning to undertake in the UK, why you applied to the University of Central Lancashire and your chosen course, how you intend to fund your studies and living costs in the UK and how your course fits your long term career aspirations.

The interviewer will also be checking your ability to converse well in English, if there is any issue with hearing them clearly, for example, via the video link or telephone signal, you should ensure that you raise this so that they are aware that it is a technical issue not one of comprehension.

Will I have to attend an interview?

This will depend on where you apply:

If you are applying for a Student Route visa from overseas you can expect to receive a short credibility interview during the application process.

If you are applying for a Student Route visa from the UK, you may be required to attend an interview. You are more likely to be invited for an interview if there are discrepancies between the supporting documents you have provided and the information included in your visa application form, or if the caseworker considering your application requests an interview in order to obtain further information before they can make a decision on your application.

If you have previously studied a course at the same level as the new course and you received an academic progression justification statement alongside your CAS, you are more likely to be invited to an interview. This is because the caseworker is required to assess whether the academic progression requirement is met. When making this assessment, the caseworker will consider the level of the course, the subject of the new and previous course, your education history, the rationale for wishing to study the new course, and whether the justification statement sufficiently explains why you are applying to study a course at the same level. If you are invited to an interview, you should be prepared to talk about the reasons why you want to pursue the new course.

What do I need to do before attending an interview?

You need to complete the Interview Reply Form and Declaration sent to you by the Home Office and email it to them before the deadline stated on the covering letter. Please remember to bring the original signed forms to your interview. You may be informed of the interview directly be email using the email address that you included in your visa application. Please ensure that you check your junk and spam folders so that you don’t miss the interview request email.

How will the interview be conducted?

If you are overseas, the interview will take place at a Visa Application centre (VAC) as stated on the Home Office’s covering letter you will receive or by telephone. The interview will be conducted in English and therefore your ability to communicate in English will be tested.

The interview will normally last for no more than 30 minutes and it will be conducted via video link with a Home Office member of staff in Sheffield in the UK if being conducted at the Visa Application Centre (VAC) or by telephone. The report of the interview will then be sent to the Entry Clearance Officer who will consider it alongside your Student Route visa application and supporting documents. You can request a copy of your interview transcript and we suggest that all students do this.

If you are invited for an interview in the UK, you can expect to be interviewed for around 30-60 minutes and this will usually be conducted by Skype with a Home Office member of staff in Sheffield in the UK.

You need to be aware that failure to attend an interview you have been invited to may result in your visa application being refused.

What questions may I be asked?

There are no set questions you will be asked. However, common types of questions are listed below:

Q: Why did you choose the University of Central Lancashire?

Think about why you chose the UK rather than your home country, other English-speaking country or country which other students of your nationality choose to study in.

The University of Central Lancashire is a campus university within a city - what attracted you to the student lifestyle of a campus located within a thriving city?

Q: Why did you choose your course?

There may be many courses in the same subject area as the one you plan to study at the University of Central Lancashire. What is it specifically about this course which you prefer and which suits you over other course available at other universities? Think about your decision-making process. Did you apply for other courses and why did you choose the University of Central Lancashire over them?

Q: How do your studies fit your career plans?

Think about what your plans are after you graduate, how will the knowledge and skills you gain from your course at the University of Central Lancashire help you with the type of work you hope to do in the future? Does your course lead to any professional exemptions or qualifications and are these recognised in your home country? Do you know what other students who graduated from the course went on to do, for example, the types of roles and organisations they now work for? If the course you plan to study is at a similar academic level to previous studies, how does it represent progression and does it have a vocational focus? If this is the case be prepared to explain this.

Q: If the costs of pursuing your course of study are higher in the UK than in your home country, why have you decided to incur the extra costs involved with studying in the UK?

Think about the advantages that a degree from the UK might give you and why you and/or your family are prepared to make this investment. Have you made a realistic assessment of all the costs involved and how you plan to pay for them? These costs include accommodation and cost of living.

Q: If you have previously studied in the UK - why have you chosen to return?

Think about how the new course relates to previous studies and how it might build on your previous learning to support your personal development and career aspirations.

Q: If you have had a long break in your studies, why are you returning to study now?

Think about how you explain your decision in the context of your long-term aspirations and career plans.

Q: Do you plan to work in the UK?

You cannot rely on funds from working to pay your course fees and living costs. The main purpose for being in the UK is your studies so, if you do hope to work, think about how this will enhance your academic studies. You also need to demonstrate an understanding of the hours you are allowed to work and typical rates of pay.

Q: How will you fund your studies?

The purpose of this question is to check that your funds are genuinely available to you for your studies. As part of your application you will have submitted proof of your finances: ensure that you are very clear about the source and availability of these funds, also how you plan to pay for subsequent years fees if your course is more than a year in duration. If you have official financial sponsorship make sure you are aware of the amounts and exactly what is covered. If you have a loan, how will you afford to pay this back? How much will your accommodation cost and are you clear about the cost of living in the UK?

Following your interview we would welcome any useful feedback you think it would be useful for us and other students to know. Please email the Student Immigration and Compliance Team with ‘Credibility Interview Feedback’ as the subject title.

If you have any questions about the Visa process, please contact the University’s Student Immigration and Compliance Team