Tier 4 Visa Pilot
A number of UK Universities have been selected to take part in a pilot scheme in conjunction with the Home Office which provides one-year Master's students the opportunity to benefit from a streamlined visa application process. The scheme offers several important advantages for students:
- You will be granted an additional six months visa on top of your course end date which will be helpful if you wish to stay on in the UK to look for work after you have completed your studies.
- As an Imperial College London applicant, you will be considered to be low-risk for immigration purposes, and therefore although you are required meet the Tier 4 Immigration Rules you do not need to include any documentation with your application demonstrating you meet the financial requirement. You are also not required to include evidence of your academic qualifications with your visa application. Please bear in mind, however, that the UK Visa and Immigration Service can request evidence as part of the visa process if they want to and will be undertaking spot-checks on applications submitted under the pilot. Therefore, you should wait until you have maintained the required amount of money for 28 days until you make your Tier 4 application. Please note: If you are required to submit an ATAS certificate and/or a TB screening certificate you must include these with your visa application.
Who is Eligible?
- Students applying for a Tier 4 visa to commence a 12 month taught Master’s degree (MSc and MBA) or research Master’s degree (MRes) at Imperial College London starting in the Autumn term.
- You are included in the pilot if you are applying for entry clearance overseas or if you are applying from within the UK following successful completion of an undergraduate or previous postgraduate degree.
- Dependants who are making a Tier 4 dependant visa application at the same time as an eligible main applicant.
The online application form says I need to submit supporting documents with my application, should I still do so?
As this is a pilot affecting only a small number of students at certain institutions, the Tier 4 online application form has not been changed to reflect this scheme. Therefore, it might still indicate that you need to include documents with your visa application. If you are coming to Imperial to study an MSc or MRes you are not required to include your qualification documents or financial support documents with your visa application.
Do I still need to submit an ATAS certificate (if my subject requires this) or a TB (if required in my country) screening certificate?
Yes. If you require either of these additional clearances, you must include these with your visa application.
What happens if I submit documents when they are not required, will they still be considered?
Yes. If you submit financial documents or qualification documents with your application when they are not required, the caseworker will assess them in the normal way. If they don’t meet the Tier 4 requirements, your application will be refused.
If I don’t have to supply financial documents with my visa application, does this mean I don’t need to hold money for 28 days before I apply?
No. It is essential that you meet the Tier 4 requirements at the time you submit your Tier 4 application online, including the requirement to maintain funds for 28 days. Although students under the pilot will not have to submit these documents to UKVI, the caseworker can request to see them if required and may do spot checks on applicants applying under the pilot. If you are asked for documents and cannot provide them, your application will be refused.
I am attending a pre-sessional course before my main degree course, am I still eligible for this scheme?
Yes, as long as your main course is a 12 month MSc or MRes programme. If your entry to the main course is conditional based on successful completion of your pre-sessional programme, you will get an initial visa for the pre-sessional programme only. You will then benefit from the pilot once you make your visa application for the main course. If you are already unconditionally accepted on to the main course but are choosing to undertake our 3-week pre-sessional, you will be included under the pilot.
My dependant is planning on coming to the UK but will make their application later. Will they still be included in the pilot?
No. If your dependant is not applying at the same time as you they will be required to include full evidence of their finances with their visa application.
I am applying for a one year visa extension to complete my UG exit Masters qualification or the second year of a 2-year PG degree - can I apply?
No. You are only eligible for the pilot if you are applying for a visa to start a 12 month MSc, MBA or MRes programme at Imperial College London.
Will my visa be processed more quickly under this scheme?
It is anticipated that your application will be more streamlined as the caseworker will be assessing fewer documents. However, please bear in mind that faster processing times cannot be guaranteed.
Do I need to specify anything about the pilot on my visa application form?
As this scheme is a pilot affecting only a relatively small number of students, the online Tier 4 application forms have not been changed to pick up Master’s level students applying from a pilot institution. Therefore, the form will ask you to provide supporting documentation. The Tier 4 online application form that is used for applications made outside the UK will ask you what documents you are including to demonstrate you meet the financial requirements of the Tier 4 application. We recommend you put here ‘Not applicable. Applying under the Pilot as per Annex 6 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance page 96’.
The online application form that is used for applications made inside the UK will produce a checklist specifying which documents you need to include to support your visa application. You are required to download this and include it with your documents when you send them to the Home Office. We would advise that you write on the checklist “Please note: Applying under the Tier 4 Pilot as per Annex 6 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance page 96”.
Can I opt out of this scheme?
No. If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa to study a 12-month MSc, MBA or MRes course at Imperial College London then your application will automatically be considered under the pilot.
Is this information confirmed by UK Visa and Immigration?
Yes. Please refer to page 96 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance.
Who should I contact for further information?
International Student Support on firstname.lastname@example.org