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
Take your time to read the guidance. This will not be the most fun part of your preparations for coming to London - but it is crucial and students tell us it always takes longer than they think. We've explained this clearly for you, but there are lots of details to get right. If you have any problems, you can e-mail us using our webform and we can advise you. There are just two of us in the International Student Immigration Service (ISIS) so please start here, online.
Using LSE guidance
We have used all the information available from the UK Home Office, the UK Council for International Student Affairs and LSE Admissions to write specific detailed guidance for LSE students and we advise you to start here.
Please note that the 'UK Border Agency' is now called the 'Home Office'. Our guides and government websites still refer to 'UK Border Agency'
Step 1: Read the Comprehensive ISIS Tier 4 (General) Application Guide
This explains everything you need to know before applying for Tier 4. There is a clear contents page which guides you through which sections you need to read. It also contains a useful checklist and flowcharts which illustrate the application process. Please take your time and read it carefully - if you pay attention to the detail, you will avoid having any problems which might delay your application or lead to your application being refused.
We advise you not to read it on your phone. Take your time, read it on a larger screen or print it out.
Applying for the Tier 4 visa - new students (pdf) - Updated October 2013
(If you need a different format, please contact us to request this)
Step 2: Use our guide to help you complete the application forms
Detailed step by step guides to completing the application forms:
How to complete the Tier 4 application form overseas [pdf] - You will need to open this file in Internet Explorer to access the information included in the guide.
How to complete the Tier 4 G form inside the UK[pdf]
Using UK Home Office website
If you are applying outside the UK, the page below has a summary of the process and you can check if you can apply online (most countries). If you apply online, you will still need to submit paper documents and your passport.
UK Border Agency - applying outside the UK
A useful place to then visit is your own country page. See under 'country finder'.
If you are applying inside the UK, the page below has links to the Tier 4 policy guidance and you can click on the Online application (please read our guide on the form. The system is not completely online and currently you complete the form online, print it and send it to the Home Office:
UK Border Agency - applying inside the UK
Other useful sources of advice
In addition the UK Council for International Affairs (UKCISA) provides free impartial advice and guidance on their website and over the phone.
Many students use online forums and blogs but we advise you to always check with official sources as 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?
You can apply to come to the UK up to three months before the start date of your programme. This is the earliest that you can apply (you can apply later). Note the warning at the top of this page about applying too early. Embassies get very busy in July and August with student applications so apply as early as you can.
You can also check on the website page for your country to find out how long applications are taking (this may be more up to date). The time that embassies take to make decisions is very variable. Embassies in some countries do not make decisions on applications and send them to other countries to be processed. This all takes time. You will also have to have your fingerprints scanned so you will need to leave enough time to make an appointment to do this.
The UK Border Agency has a guide on how long applications take: UK Border Agency website
Please apply for permission to come to the UK as soon as you can.
When can I come to the UK?
If you are coming to study on a course that is longer than six months, you can come to the UK up to one month before the start of your programme. The start date is on your CAS.
Track your application
If you are applying for a postgraduate course at LSE, you can check the status of your application or request a CAS if you have not received it on our online tracker page:
PG Track Your Application
If you are applying for an undergraduate course at LSE you can track your application through UCAS: