University of Sunderland in London

How to get a Tier 4 visa

Three male students talking

The majority of international students coming to the UK to study for more than six months will need a Tier 4 visa.

If you have a Tier 4 visa you can only study full-time; you cannot study on a part-time basis. This applies to all levels of courses.

The process for getting a Tier 4 visa involves three steps:

  1. University offer
  2. Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
  3. Tier 4 visa application form

The visa process can take several months - find out more about Waiting for your Tier 4 visa.

The University aims to support Tier 4 applicants with the information you need to successfully apply for a visa. Please read our visa guide and guidance for international applicants and we strongly recommend that you read the Home Office Guidance on making an application for your visa BEFORE you submit your documentation. 

We aim to support you with the following information on guidance which some applicants have found to be less clear.

One such area is the definition of an international company for the purposes of meeting the financial maintenance requirements.

Current immigration rules allow you to be financially sponsored by an international company. The Home Office has not provided a clear definition of what an international company is. 

After taking guidance from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) and the University’s dedicated Home Office Premier Account Manager, we can provide the following guidance:

An international company must have a global presence in terms of the company trading in more than one country. This is most easily evidenced if the company has at least one other office in more than one country.

If it is not clear to you whether the company has a global presence then we strongly recommend that you use alternative financial statements as part of your visa application outlined in Appendix C of the UKVI immigration rules

We hope that by following our advice and the guidelines you are fully prepared to make a successful visa application.

Important visa information

Once you have your visa, there are still some important things you have to remember:

  • If you are studying for 6 months or more, you may arrive in the UK up to one month before your course start date
  • If you are studying for less than 6 months, you may arrive in the UK up to 7 days before your course start date
  • You must not claim public funds that you are not entitled to (such as state benefits)
  • You may be required to register with the police within 7 days of arrival (this will be stated on your entry clearance vignette)

If you need help or advice about immigration or visas, please find more information in our online Important Information about Your Visa booklet (.pdf) or contact the International Student Support Team: +44 (0) 20 7093 0685 /

Download guidance booklets

international applicantsinformation about your visa