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Visas and Immigration

UK Immigration Rules

The Points Based System (PBS) is the UK system for managing migration for those non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals wishing to enter the UK for the purpose of work or study. The system consists of five tiers, and Tier 4 (General) is the immigration category for students, postgraduate doctors and dentists, and students' union sabbatical officers.

If you are 17 years old or above and intend to study for a full-time or part-time undergraduate or postgraduate programme at the University of Suffolk, you must apply for an adult Tier 4 (General) student visa.

The application form is available on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website.

To make a Tier 4 (General) application you are required to score 40 points.

Your 40 points will be based on the following:

  • Confirmation of a unique Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number from your approved education provider (University of Suffolk), and the documents used to obtain this (30 points). To get a CAS number you will need to accept an unconditional offer from the University of Suffolk and pay your £3000 deposit.
  • Proof of evidence (e.g. Bank or building society statements, sponsorship letter) confirming that you have enough money to cover your tuition fees for the first year and a specific amount of money for living costs (£9,135), also referred to as maintenance costs (10 points). 
Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

Any student who applies, either from within the UK or overseas, to study in the UK under Tier 4 (General) of the Points-Based System must possess a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from their prospective sponsor (the university). In order for the University to issue you with a CAS you are required to submit specific documentation (listed below) as well as a £3000 CAS deposit payment. This deposit is credited to your University of Suffolk account, and the remaining balance must then be paid within 30 days of invoicing.

To issue you with a CAS, the University of Suffolk Admissions Office will need:

  1. Your current passport showing your details and passport expiry date;
  2. Proof of evidence confirming you have sufficient funds available for your tuition fee and maintenance costs;
  3. All academic certificates and transcripts that have been used to obtain an unconditional offer from the University;
  4. If you are not from a majority English speaking country then we require your UKVI approved Secure English Language Tests (SELT) report;
  5. If you are already studying in the UK we need a copy of the current visa in your passport, or on your Biometric ID card;
  6. If you are already in the UK we need a copy of proof of your first UK entry date (e.g. UKVI stamp on your passport showing your UK entry date);
  7. Payment of a £3000 CAS deposit. 


CAS Statement

Once the Admissions Office is happy with the information you have supplied and we have processed your request for a CAS, we will email you a draft copy of the CAS statement for you to confirm the accuracy of the details. All the information contained in the CAS statement is extremely important, so you must check it is all correct and up-to-date. If any of the information is incorrect then you must inform us by email immediately.

Once you have confirmed that your draft CAS statement is correct, we will provide this information to the Home Office so that we can generate your CAS number. We will also email you a copy of your final CAS statement which will include:

  1. Your CAS number;
  2. The start and end date of your course;
  3. The University of Suffolk Sponsor License Number;
  4. The University of Suffolk Sponsor License Address ;
  5. The address of your primary site of study;
  6. The original qualification certificates or transcripts, which you will need to include with your visa application (remember they must be the original documents not photocopies and if not in English, they must have translations that meet the UKVI criteria). If you are continuing on your existing course at the University of Suffolk, you will not normally need to include certificates for your qualifications;
  7. Confirmation that your course represents academic progression if you have already studied in the UK;
  8. Confirmation of your English Language ability;
  9. The fees for your course;
  10. The fees you have already paid;
  11. The accommodation fees you already paid;
  12. Your name as it appears on your passport;
  13. Your passport number;
  14. Your scholarship information (if applicable);
  15. Your ATAS certificate details (if applicable) 
Required Funds

A major requirement for a Tier 4 (General) student visa is that you show proof of sufficient funds to pay your fees and support yourself. You will need to show proof that the required funds in your account, or your sponsors account, have been cleared for a minimum period of 28 consecutive days, immediately prior to your CAS issuance. 

If you are coming to the University of Suffolk you will need to show £1,015 per month for up to a maximum of 9 months plus any outstanding tuition fees for your first year.

During your visa application, you will also be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge; details of this can be found on the website.

If you are applying for leave to enter the UK from one of these countries, you are not required to show evidence of your funds, academic qualifications or English language as part of your visa application under the Differentiation Agreement, however we strongly advise that you prepare such documentation should the Home Office request this from you at any point during the application process. 

Useful Information 

  • During the 28-day period the total amount of money you must evidence cannot drop below the required amount for even one day or you will not meet the visa conditions.
  • You must provide the correct financial evidence in the correct format or your visa will be refused. More details can be found in UKVI website.
  • The account can be in your name, or in your parents or a legal guardians name only. If the account is not in your name, you will need to demonstrate your relation to the parent/legal guardian and provide written confirmation that you have their consent to use the funds for the purposes of your education.
  • Evidence of government or employer sponsorship should be a letter of confirmation on official headed paper or stationery, and must bear the organisations official stamp. It must show:
    - Your name
    - The name and contact details of the official sponsor
    - The date of the letter
    - The length of the sponsorship
    - The amount of money the sponsor is giving or a statement that they will cover all of your fees and living costs.

The Study UK British Council pages will help you plan and manage your money from your studies in the UK.

Tier 4 (General) Visa Application

When you are applying from outside of the UK you are not permitted to apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa until three months before your course start date. Most UK embassies try to issue visas within two weeks but at busy times it can take three weeks or more and they cannot issue a new visa for a course that has already started.

Please note that you will only be permitted to enter the UK one month before the official start date for your chosen course of study, as per your CAS statement. 

If you currently hold a Tier 4 (General) visa and are starting a course at the University of Suffolk, you will not be able to start your course until you have applied for a Tier 4 (General) visa for the University of Suffolk. You can apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa if there are 28 days or less between the expiry of your existing Tier 4 (General) visa and the start of your new course. If there are more than 28 days you will need to return home to make your Tier 4 (General) visa application.

Visa application checklist:

You will need to complete the online application form. If your country does not support online applications, you must complete and submit a VAF9 for Tier 4 (General) and pay your application fee. You have to include the following documents to support your application:

1. A current valid passport or travel document;

2. All previous passports you have used to travel to the UK;

3. Your CAS Statement letter containing your CAS number;

4. Original copies of any educational documents/certificates that are listed on your CAS statement e.g. school/college academic certificates from your home country;

5. Documents to show you have sufficient funding (maintenance and any outstanding fees for first year) including;

a) Bank statements covering a 28 day period (remember if you are using parents bank statements you must also provide your birth certificate and a letter from them confirming that they are your parents and that they consent to you using their money to study in the UK); and/or

b) Scholarship letter (if applicable); and/or

c) Receipts for tuition fees and/or accommodation (if paid)

6. Confirmation of your English Language ability;

7. Your biometric details if you are applying from outside the UK;

8. Recent passport sized photographs (please see the UKVI website for full details of acceptable photographs);

9. If any of the above documents are not in English, the original must be sent with a fully certified translation by a professional translator. This translation must include specific information, please see the UKVI website for full details.

You must provide specified documents with your application as UKVI will not use any evidence sent in after they have made a decision. Furthermore, the UKVI will not contact you if you do not send the correct documents. If you fail to send the correct documents your visa may be refused.

For further details on how to apply for a Tier 4 visa, please see the UKVI Tier 4 of the Points Based System - Policy Guidance.

Credibility Interviews

Credibility interviews are part of the Tier 4 visa application process. They are used by the Home Office to make sure that a student’s reasons for studying in the UK are genuine. Failure to attend a credibility interview without a reasonable explanation being given will result in your visa being refused.

How does it work?

  1. If you are applying from overseas, the interview will take place via video link at a Visa Application Centre as stated on the Home Office covering letter
  2. If you are applying from the UK, you may have a Skype interview with a Home Office member of staff or at a centre in London.

All interviews will be conducted in English.

Your interview may last between 15-60 minutes and a further interview may be required if more information is needed, or to verify something that you have previously said.

Once completed, you should request a copy of the interview transcript so that you can keep a record of what you said during the interview.

The report of the interview is then sent to the Entry Clearance Officer who will consider it alongside your visa application and supporting documents.


Questions you may be asked?

These are some typical questions that you may be asked:

Please note that there are no set questions, and you may be asked additional questions not covered below.

Q: Why do you want to study in the UK?

Q: Why did you choose the University of Suffolk?

Q: Have you researched courses provided by other institutions? 

Q: Why did you choose your course?

Q: How is your course assessed?

Q: What have you studied previously?

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

Q: How will you fund your studies?

Q: Do you know what accommodation is available at the university?

Q: Is there a distance between the accommodation and your place of study?

Q: How does the course fit into your career plans?

Q: What are your plans after you have graduated?

The interviewer will also be checking your ability to converse in English. If there is any issue with hearing them clearly e.g. the video link/Skype connection is poor, you should let the interviewer know immediately so they know that it is a technical issue and not that you are unable to understand them.


Further Advice

Try to remain calm and answer the questions in full as naturally as you can. Some of the questions will be designed to check your English language skills.

This is your opportunity to show that you have thoroughly researched the University of Suffolk and your course, and have thought about how studying here will help you meet your career goals. It is important to provide detailed answers where possible.

The Entry Clearance Officer will be able to compare your answers with the financial and employment information that you declared on your application form. They may also consider your family circumstances and any supporting documents you have provided.

Following the interview we would welcome any feedback on your experience.

Your Responsibilities
  • Have all your necessary original documents with you when you arrive for Induction or go to the Post Office to collect your Biometric Residence Permit.
  • If you change your address or phone number while you are studying with us you must inform the International Office AND the UKVI via their 'change of circumstances' form.
  • Attend all mandatory seminars, lectures, tutorials etc. If you are unable to attend any of these, you must inform the International Office.
  • Inform us if you change course, intercalate, withdraw or defer your course or move to any other education institution.