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Written by Ananya Kumar, BA English

So you finally received your offer letter in your email inbox. Congratulations! This is the step to studying as an international student in the UK (or any other country, really), complete!

Moving on to the next phase of this journey towards your life’s next adventure: the Student Visa, which, if you’re moving to the UK to pursue further studies, is the Tier 4 visa.

Long, winding and often confusing at times, the process for applying for and receiving the Tier 4 visa can be a tough nut to crack, one that has given rise to several horror stories within the international student community. Horror stories range from ‘my Visa just got rejected although I submitted *all* the documents required’ to ‘it’s been nearly two months since I submitted my documents and gave my biometrics and I still haven’t received a decision’ -  I’ve heard it all.

So here’s a little something to help you along your journey if you are an international student, or add to your knowledge if you aren’t.

Step 1:

Obtain your Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies, or CAS as it is fondly (read: not so fondly) called, from your university of choice.

While this step may sound like a walk in the park, it often-for most-isn’t. There is usually a long wait involved in your offer status being changed from ‘Conditional’ to ‘Unconditional’ (something on which the issuance of the CAS is contingent) or the issuance of the CAS itself once the offer status reflects ‘Unconditional’. A period usually fraught with a sudden spike in activity on social media groups formed for and by international students as they discuss usual (and unusual) waiting times with one another.

Step 2:

Begin your application while getting your documents in place.

The application for the Tier 4 visa (along with most of the others) is now thankfully online and can be filled once the CAS has been issued. Though a little long, winding and confusing like the process itself, the form is admittedly quite comprehensive and can be, if one has the will, filled in one sitting. Bear through it through it though. 

While submitting the application, a ‘Document Checklist’ is generated. This list is important. It can make or break one’s application and has to be followed exactly as detailed. The ones showing proof of funds and meeting the academic and English language conditions of your offer are compulsory ones for most (with some exceptions), along with other situation-specific ones like the Tuberculosis Certificate.

Step 3:

Set an appointment with a Visa Processing Centre in your city/country.

Step 4:

Go to the Visa Processing Centre on that designated date and time, along with original copies of all the documents in your checklist.

They will scan them and append them to your online application, forwarding it to relevant the UK Visas and Immigration centre for making a decision. There are often long queues at Visa Processing Centres, especially during the months of July and August when most students receive their CAS. This however may not be the case everywhere as these centres, more often than not, are efficient at handling Visa applications swiftly.

Step 5:

Wait in queue to give your biometrics.

This is necessary as all Tier 4 Visa students are issued with a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) upon arrival, a card that should guarded with one’s life.

Step 6:

That is it.

You’ve done all you could. Wait (ninety percent of the times) with bated breath and check your email for updates regarding the decision on your application. The next few days might be anxiety-fraught and full of you scrolling through the very horror stories on Reddit you shouldn’t but that too shall pass.

Step 7:

Go and collect your passport from the Visa Processing Centre.

This is it. Your (bright) future awaits.

Signing off,

The Confused Desi