Applying under the Tier 4 visa pilot

The University of Bristol has been selected to join a small number of universities in the Home Office Tier 4 visa pilot.

What is the Tier 4 visa pilot?

The Tier 4 visa pilot provides full-time students (and their dependants) on master’s programmes that are 13 months or less in duration a streamlined visa application process and six months extra time at the end of their course.

Who is eligible?

  • Individuals applying for a Tier 4 student visa to study a postgraduate master’s programme of 13 months or less (applicable to students who commenced study in the 2018/19 or after). Please note that the scheme is closing for new applications in October 2020 (exact date TBC). Applications made after closure date will not benefit from the Tier 4 Pilot arrangement; instead, these students are likely to benefit from the new graduate work visa route, the exact details of which will be published in the autumn 2020. 
  • Individuals applying for entry clearance overseas or applying for leave to remain (in the UK) following successful completion of an undergraduate or previous postgraduate degree.
  • Dependants making a Tier 4 dependant visa application at the same time as an eligible main applicant.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does a streamlined visa application process mean for eligible students?

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.

However, you still need to meet the Tier 4 rules and prepare your documents. You could be asked by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to show documents as part of the visa application process or if they undertake spot checks on applicants. Therefore, you should wait until you have maintained the required amount of money for 28 days until you submit your Tier 4 visa 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.

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 visa requirements at the time you submit your Tier 4 visa application online, including the requirement to maintain funds for 28 days. Although students applying under the pilot will not have to submit these documents to UKVI, the caseworker can request to see them and may do spot checks on applicants applying under the pilot. If you are asked for documents and cannot provide them, your visa application will be refused.

The Tier 4 visa online application form says I need to submit supporting documents with my application. Should I submit them?

No, you should not submit your documents if you are eligible to apply under the pilot. As the pilot affects only a small number of students at certain institutions, the Tier 4 online application form has not been changed to reflect this scheme. Therefore, the form may still say that you need to include documents with your visa application. As a student coming to the University of Bristol under the pilot you are not required to include your qualification documents or financial support documents 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 do not meet the Tier 4 visa requirements, your application will be refused.

Do I still need to submit an ATAS certificate (if my subject requires this) or a TB screening certificate (if required in my country)?

Yes. If you require either of these additional clearances, you must include these with your visa application.

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 master’s programme that is 13 months or less in duration. If your entry to the main course is conditional based on successfully completing your pre-sessional programme, you will initially receive a visa for the pre-sessional programme only. You will then benefit from the pilot scheme when you make your visa application for the main course. If you are already unconditionally accepted on to your main course but are choosing to undertake our pre-sessional course and have a combined CAS covering both courses, 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 visa to upgrade to an MEng or MSci or to complete a two year master’s degree. Am I included in the pilot?

No. You are only eligible for the pilot if you are applying for a visa to start a master’s programme that is 13 months or less at the University of Bristol.

Will my visa be processed more quickly?

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.

Can I opt out of the pilot?

No. If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa to study a master’s programme that is 13 months or less at the University of Bristol then your application will automatically be considered under the pilot.

Is this information confirmed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)?

Yes. Please refer to 'Annex 6: Tier 4 Pilot' of the UKVI Tier 4 Policy Guidance.


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