Extending a student visa in the UK

It is very important that you meet all the requirements for a student visa application as explained on this page.

Is this page for me?

This page is for students that already have a student visa and want to extend their visa in the UK, to study at the University of Birmingham.

If you want to extend your visa outside the UK see the Entry Clearance page and to apply for your family, use our family pages.

What is the impact of Covid-19 on extending a student visa in the UK?

In response to COVID-19, the UKVI has temporarily changed the way they process visa extension applications made in the UK by reusing biometrics.  Eligible students will now be able to provide their biometrics using a mobile phone app called the Identity Verification (IDV) app.

Identity Verification (IDV) app

The Identity Verification (IDV) appallows eligible students to submit information to the UKVI without having to book or attend an appointment at a UKVCAS service point.  This is a new, free to use service. 

Using your smartphone, you will need to:

  • Take a photo of yourself and your travel documents.
  • Perform a ‘liveness’ check.
  • Upload mandatory and optional documents.

If you are an eligible student and you have previously submitted biometrics to the UKVI, you will not have to repeat the whole identity verification process and will NOT have to book a face-to-face appointment at a UKVCAS service point. 

If you are not an eligible student, you will not be able to use the IDV app and must attend an appointment at a UKVCAS service point.  

How will the application process work?

When you make your visa application, you will be directed to register with UKVCAS and create a UKVCAS account.  An email will be sent out from UKVCAS at the point of registering an account letting you know what is happening and to outline the next steps.  A further e-mail will be sent in 7 to 9 days advising you if you are eligible for biometric reuse.  Until you receive an email from UKVCAS you will NOT be able to book an appointment with UKVCAS, nor use the IDV app.  You should not download the IDV app or try to use it until you have received an email from UKVCAS. 

When will UKVCAS contact me?

UKVCAS will contact student applicants in date order, from the earliest to the most recent UKVCAS account registrations.  You will need to wait to receive an email from UKVCAS before you can download and use the IDV app or book a UKVCAS appointment.

If the UKVCAS confirm that you are eligible for biometric reuse, UKVCAS will send you an email inviting you to use the IDV app. This applies to both individual applicants as well as family groups. 

If the UKVCAS confirm that you are NOT eligible to the use the IDV app, UKVCAS will send you an email inviting you to book an appointment at a UKVCAS Service Point.

Everyone in a family group needs to either choose to use the IDV app or book an appointment with UKVCAS.

What are the benefits of using the IDV app?

The benefits of using the IDV app include:

  • Quick and easy to use
  • Supports social distancing 
  • Minimises cost and need for travel
  • Verifies identity and enables scan and upload of key documents 
  • Saves time and money 
  • Works on both Android and iPhone smartphones

What if I do not want to use the IDV app?

You may prefer a face-to-face meeting, for example if you need a UKVCAS translation service or document checking service.  If this applies to you, you will still be able to book an appointment at a UKVCAS Service Point even if you are eligible to use the IDV app.  You will need to wait for the email invitation to arrive and then choose to either use the IDV app or book an appointment with UKVCAS

When will I get a decision on my visa application?

Most students will get a decision from UKVI within 8 weeks of submitting their application.  However, non-straightforward cases may take longer to process.  You can find out more details here.

Whilst you have a valid application pending, you may be eligible to begin studying.  Find out more on the UKVI website here.  

The UKVI will contact you directly if they need any further information and to inform you about the decision.  UKVI ask that you do not contact them while your application is being processed.  

What if I need an urgent decision?

The 5-day Priority and next working day Super Priority services are currently suspended.  If you need an urgent decision on a visa application due to compassionate or emergency reasons, further information can be found here

What if I have a question?

UKVCAS have developed a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the UKVCAS Service and the IDV app which can be found here

If you have a question that is not covered by the guidance or FAQs, you can contact the University's International Student Team online.

5 year limit on UK study at undergraduate and Masters level

The UKVI have introduced a 5 year limit to study carried out on a student visa, at undergraduate and Masters level. You will be assessed as part of the Admissions process. For details see the ISAS news page.

When to apply

You must apply before your current visa expires. We strongly advise that you apply in advance and as early as possible within the allowed UKVI timeframes.

Current visa not issued for the University of Birmingham 

The earliest you can submit your application is three months before your course start date. If you are still studying with another university, you should wait to finish your course before you apply.

Before following the instructions on this page you must make sure you have read our page on student visas for another university.

Current visa issued for the University of Birmingham

If you are continuing on the same course that the visa was granted for, the UKVI advise that you can apply 3 months before your visa expiry date.

If you are starting a new course, you have a choice as to when you apply for your new visa, you can apply 3 months before the course start date, or 3 months before your visa expiry date. We would advise that you use whichever date is sooner, so that you make an application as early as possible.

My visa has already expired

If your visa has already expired you must contact ISAS immediately, as we will need to give you detailed advice for your situation. If you are working you must stop working straight away.

The UKVI have introduced rules about overstaying. One part of the rules is that if you have not made a visa extension application, and apply for a new visa inside the UK 14 days or more after your visa expiry date, your visa application will automatically be refused.

Please do not submit a visa application without first having an appointment with ISAS; we can advise you on your possible options and answer your questions. 

How to apply

Ways to apply

There are 2 main ways that students make a Tier 4 visa extension application from inside the UK:

  • You can post your application yourself.
  • You can book an in person appointment at a UKVI Public Enquiry Office (PEO). To book an appointment please visit the UKVI Public Enquiry Offices web pages. The appointment must be before your visa expires and it is essential to book in advance as appointments fill up quickly.  

Document list 

The UKVI are strict about the documents they will accept as evidence. Your documents will need to meet the UKVI requirements or your application can be refused. We recommend you read the information below and prepare your documents, then allow ISAS to check them for you.

We have listed the main types of document that you will need. There may be others, so check the UKVI webpages to ensure you have all of the documents needed to make your application. Please check that you have the following original documents

  • Completed print and send application form. The print and send application form must be completed online through the UKVI website. Please see the ISAS Making an Online Tier 4 application form  for full details  
  • Proof that you have the amount of money required by UKVI for immigration (see money requirements)
  • ATAS, if you need it (find out if you need ATAS)
  • CAS number from the University of Birmingham (get a CAS number)
  • Academic qualifications that are listed in the CAS
  • Translations of any documents that are not in English (see translation requirements)
  • 2 passport-sized photographs, which must meet the UKVI photo guidance
  • Your current passport
  • Any other passports or visas that you have used to come to the UK in the past
  • Your Biometric Residence Permit (if applicable)
  • Your Police Registration Certificate (if applicable)
  • TB Certificate (if applicable)

All documents must be originals

Low-risk countries and documents to submit

If you are from a low-risk country you should still collect all the evidence listed above. However if you are self-submitting a postal application you won't need to submit academic qualifications or financial evidence with your application. Instead, the UKVI can ask for it when it is processing your visa application.

If you are asked for this evidence while your application is being processed, you will be given a deadline by which to provide it. If you fail to provide the documents when they are asked for, your visa application will be refused.

If you will attend an appointment with the UKVI, or want ISAS to send your application you must provide all the documents.

Which countries are low-risk?

The low risk countries are listed on the UKCISA visa page.

What to keep for University registration

Visa application times in the UK can take 6-14 weeks for postal applications. If you are starting a new course the University will need to see proof that you have made an application before you can be registered; you need to provide all of the following documents:

  • special delivery receipt from the Post Office
  • photocopy of the photograph page of your passport
  • photocopies of all UK visas (including any that were issued on a biometric card)
  • photocopies of all supporting documents you sent
  • UKVI letter confirming receipt of your application (if received)

It is your responsibility to provide this proof; without proof you cannot be registered.

Even if you are a continuing student it is sensible to keep a copy of the above documents until your visa is granted. 

Further information

For information on the visa process and how to complete the visa form see the UKCISA guide for student visas. For detailed information on immigration requirements for documents read the UKVI Tier 4 policy guidance.

You can also contact the University's International Students Advisory Service for further immigration help:

  • Contact ISAS - use the log in on the right hand side of the page to log in as a student or guest, then send your questions.