International Student Team

Visa Advice Service: Making a Tier 4 (General) Student immigration application in the UK

Application forms and guidance

Before you try to apply from within the UK, you must check that it is possible to switch into Tier 4 from your current immigration category. For example, if you currently hold a dependant visa, you will not be able to apply for Tier 4 within the UK.

New Tier 4 Policy Guidance and helptext documents are regularly published and the latest guidance should be used for all T4 applications made from inside the UK on or after that date.

Postal applications

It is highly recommended that you send your application(s) by Special Delivery from the Post Office. This will ensure the safety of any important documents you send and will allow you to track the delivery of your application form (via a bar code) online. It will also allow you to prove to your sponsor that the application was delivered to a UKBA address.

If you apply by post, we recommend that you post your application with plenty of time to spare before the date your visa expires - you can apply at any time and you do not need to wait until your visa is close to expiry.

Once you have posted your application(s) you may receive a letter confirming that your application has been received (though this is rarely provided now that the application is completed online) and a letter inviting you to enrol your biometrics. Please take this letter to your College and they will keep a copy as evidence of your continuing right to remain and study. Please contact us if you do not receive any communication from the UKBA within one month of posting the application (using our enquiry form below).

Applying using the paper Tier 4 application form

You will now only need to use the paper application form if you:

If you believe this applies to you, please contact us before you apply.

Biometric enrolment process and photographic guidance

Those making applications for student extensions under the Points-Based System (and their dependants) will be required to attend centres where their fingerprints and an image of their face will be taken, as part of the extension application process. For those making applications in person, this will be done when they attend to make their application, so they will not need to make a separate journey. A student's extension will not be granted that day (i.e. the day that they give their fingerprints and facial image), but later, when an 'identity card' (generated by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) is posted out to them.

Enrolling your biometrics when you apply by post

When you submit your application by post you will receive a letter inviting you to enrol your biometrics at a post office.

You do not need to book an appointment at one of the 17 post offices offering biometric enrolment. However, you must have been sent an invitation from UKBA to attend one of these centres. Applicants using the service will need to pay an additional fee to Post Office Ltd.

If your Tier 4 application is successful, you will receive their biometric card in the post, within 1-2 weeks of receiving their other documents (passport, etc) back from the Home Office, through the post.

For information about identity cards and biometrics (fingerprints and photographs), go to the UKBA website:

An email service has replaced UKBA biometric residence permit helplines (0300 123 2412 and 0300 123 4699). You will need to email:


The International Student Team of the University of Cambridge makes every possible effort to ensure that the information and advice it provides is up-to-date and accurate, but accepts no legal liability for errors or omissions, and reserves the right to make changes without notice. Furthermore, the International Student Team accepts no legal liability for the outcome of any action you may take after seeking our advice.