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Applying for Tier 4 (General) Student visa - new LSE students

Warning: don't apply too early!

Do not apply for your Tier 4 visa more than 3 months before the start date of your programme. The date of your application is the date that you pay online or pay at the visa application centre. If you apply too early, your application will be refused and you will lose the application fee.

IMPORTANT: Following major changes to the immigration rules on the 6 April 2015, we are currently in the process of updating our detailed guidance.  Information has been included below on the most important changes, but you should also refer to the most recent version of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

Getting started

  • Take your time reading the guidance and preparing your application.  
  • Refer to the Home Office Guidance as well as the LSE specific guidance
  • Contact ISIS if you have any problems with your application after reading our guidance. 

Using LSE guidance

Our detailed guidance has been written specifically for LSE students based on the Home Office guidance and guidance from the UK Council for International Student Affairs.  We recommend you use this guidance when applying for your Tier 4 visa.

Step 1: Read the comprehensive ISIS Tier 4 Application Guide

ISIS PDF Guide to Applying for Tier 4 - New Students - We recommend you do not view this in Internet Explorer.

You may also find these external sources of information helpful:

Tier 4 Policy Guidance - UKVI Guide

Making a Tier 4 application outside the UK - Guidance from UKCISA

Making a Tier 4 application in the UK - Guidance from UKCISA

Step 2: Pay your Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) before applying for your Tier 4 visa

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) was introduced on the 6 April 2015.  Payment is currently separate to the Tier 4 application form, but you must obtain an IHS number before submitting your application for a Tier 4 visa.

The IHS costs £150 per year for students. It is calculated on the basis of the length of the visa you will be granted.  For example a 12 month Masters student will be granted a visa for 17 months, so they will have to pay £225.  The IHS is mandatory and failure to pay the correct amount may lead to a refusal of your visa.

Some people are exempt, but they must still obtain an IHS number to include in their Tier 4 application.

Follow the steps below to pay the IHS:

  1. Read the information on the UKVI web pages explaining about the IHS;
  2. Find out when you need to pay the surcharge or if your are exempt from payment;
  3. Calculate how much your surcharge will be using the Home Office Calculator. You should refer to your course dates as stated on your CAS. Students attending the Summer School as a condition of their offer should contact ISIS for advice before paying the surcharge.
  4. Create an account and pay for your IHS. If you have dependants, you can add their details at the same time your make payment.  There are various ways you can pay, but you should be aware the cost may be higher depending on the exchange rate. 
  5. Keep a copy of the email you are sent by the Home Office with your IHS number for reference.  You will be required to write the number on your Tier 4 application form.

Step 3: Use our guides to help you complete the application forms

How to complete the Tier 4 application form overseas [pdf] 

How to complete the Tier 4 G form inside the UK [pdf]

Step 4: Getting your Visa

Applying inside the UK

If you have applied for your Tier 4 visa in the UK, you will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) instead of a sticker in your passport.  This will be delivered to you by courier. Check your BRP to see if there are any errors.  If you believe there is a mistake on your BRP, read our checking your visa web page to find out what to do.

Applying outside the UK

The Home Office have begun to introduce changes to immigration procedures after arrival in the UK.  Depending on when and where you apply for your visa, you may either receive a sticker in your passport which covers your whole course or you may be required to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) when you arrive in the UK.

Details of the scheme can be found on the UKVI webpages, as well as the schedule for the scheme.


Further advice on the process cam be found on the UKCISA website.

Using the UKVI webpages

General information on applying for your Tier 4 visa can be found on the UKVI webpages.

If you are applying outside the UK, your application will cost £322 plus the Immigration Health Surcharge.  To access the online application form choose option 5 "Apply".

If you are applying inside the UK , your application will cost:

  • Standard (postal) application - £439 plus the Immigration Health Surcharge
  • Premium (in-person) application - £839 plus the Immigration Health Surcharge

To access the online application form choose option 6 "Extend your Visa".

Other useful sources of advice

In addition the UK Council for International Affairs (UKCISA) provides free impartial advice and guidance.

Many students use social media to get immigration advice.  You should always check with official sources. Immigration advice is very individual and it is very easy to get the wrong advice from someone whose situation may seem similar to you.  The rules are detailed and they change regularly.

When do I apply?

The earliest you can apply to come to the UK is three months before the start date of your programme as stated on your CAS.  Embassies get very busy in July and August with student applications so apply as early as you can. 

You can find processing times on the UKVI webpages.  Please note these are working days and you should allow time for your documents to be returned to you.

In some countries it is possible to pay for a priority service application.  Check your visa processing centre to see if this is available.

We advise against travelling out of your country of application until your Tier 4 application has been processed. You will need to provide your fingerprints and may be required to attend an interview, so you should be available to complete these requirements.

Please apply for permission to come to the UK as soon as you can.