Eligibility for Tier 4 student visa

The requirements you need to meet in order to apply for a Tier 4 visa.

Primary page content

Ways to meet the English language requirements

Be a national of a majority English-speaking country

The UK government classifies the following overseas countries as majority native English speaking :

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

Have completed a degree level qualification in a majority English speaking country

You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree in:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

Canada is not included in this list

Passed a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at the required level

You will need to prove this by providing your official test certificate.

You must take a SELT if you are studying below degree level with Goldsmiths. The most common SELT we accept is a UKVI IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test.

Courses below degree level (Pre-sessional English language and International Foundation Certificates)

  • Language level: B1
  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) IELTS equivalent: 4.0 minimum in each component

There are two types of IELTS tests, and for study below degree level you must take the UKVI IELTS test with an approved provider.

Undergraduate degrees / Masters courses

  • Language level: B2
  • IELTS equivalent: 5.5 minimum in each component

MPhil/PhD qualifications

  • Language level: B2
  • IELTS equivalent: 5.5 minimum in each component

Under the current rules, you can take any IELTS test for study at degree level or above with Goldsmiths. However, if you are worried about your ability to achieve a sufficient score in all four components, you might prefer to take a UKVI IELTS test with an approved provider so that you could study for a Pre-Sessional English language course if necessary.

Other requirements

5 year cap on study in the UK

The Tier 4 visa rules limit you to studying for 5 years at degree level with a Tier 4 visa.

Calculating your study history can be quite difficult. We will help you check this as part of the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) process.

How to calculate your study history

  • Add up all of the time you have held a Tier 4 visa (you need to count the from the visa start date, until the visa expiry date)
  • Add the amount of time you would have a Tier 4 visa if you received a CAS to study with Goldsmiths

If the total exceeds 5 years, then you may not be eligible for further study at degree level in the UK. You can email the IAS for more information at immigration (@gold.ac.uk).

Exceptions to the 5 year cap

There are some exceptions to this rule, but this is a very complicated area of visa regulations and the IAS will assess your circumstances individually. If you do want to read more about some of the exceptions available, you can visit the UKCISA webpages.

Academic Progression

If you have previously studied in the UK on a Tier 4 (General) student visa, you need to meet the ‘academic progression’ rules.

These rules state that:

  • Any new Tier 4 visa application must generally be for studying at a higher level than the previous study with a Tier 4 visa in the UK.
  • Study at the same academic level is only permitted in certain exceptional circumstances

Study at the same academic level

You can only study at the same level if:

  1. Your new course with Goldsmiths is related to your previous course (this means that your studies have to be connected, and part of the same subject group) or
  2. Your new course with Goldsmiths, combined with your previous course on a Tier 4 visa, genuinely supports your career aspirations. You will be asked to provide substantial evidence if you want to rely on this exception as part of the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) process.

You must also have successfully completed your last course.

If you do not meet the requirements for academic progression, we will not be able to issue you with a CAS statement (to apply for a visa inside the UK, or from overseas).

Eligibility for Tier 4 student visa

Page content

Tier 4 (General) student visas can only be issued for certain courses. The requirements you need to meet in order to apply for a Tier 4 visa are:

Ways to meet the English language requirements

Be a national of a majority English-speaking country

The UK government classifies the following overseas countries as majority native English speaking :

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

Have completed a degree level qualification in a majority English speaking country

You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree in:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States of America

Canada is not included in this list

Passed a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at the required level

You will need to prove this by providing your official test certificate.

You must take a SELT if you are studying below degree level with Goldsmiths. The most common SELT we accept is a UKVI IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test.

Courses below degree level (Pre-sessional English language and International Foundation Certificates)

  • Language level: B1
  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) IELTS equivalent: 4.0 minimum in each component

There are two types of IELTS tests, and for study below degree level you must take the UKVI IELTS test with an approved provider.

Undergraduate degrees / Masters courses

  • Language level: B2
  • IELTS equivalent: 5.5 minimum in each component

MPhil/PhD qualifications

  • Language level: B2
  • IELTS equivalent: 5.5 minimum in each component

Under the current rules, you can take any IELTS test for study at degree level or above with Goldsmiths. However, if you are worried about your ability to achieve a sufficient score in all four components, you might prefer to take a UKVI IELTS test with an approved provider so that you could study for a Pre-Sessional English language course if necessary.

Other requirements

5 year cap on study in the UK

The Tier 4 visa rules limit you to studying for 5 years at degree level with a Tier 4 visa.

Calculating your study history can be quite difficult. We will help you check this as part of the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) process.

How to calculate your study history

  • Add up all of the time you have held a Tier 4 visa (you need to count the from the visa start date, until the visa expiry date)
  • Add the amount of time you would have a Tier 4 visa if you received a CAS to study with Goldsmiths

If the total exceeds 5 years, then you may not be eligible for further study at degree level in the UK. You can email the IAS for more information at immigration (@gold.ac.uk).

Exceptions to the 5 year cap

There are some exceptions to this rule, but this is a very complicated area of visa regulations and the IAS will assess your circumstances individually. If you do want to read more about some of the exceptions available, you can visit the UKCISA webpages.

Academic Progression

If you have previously studied in the UK on a Tier 4 (General) student visa, you need to meet the ‘academic progression’ rules.

These rules state that:

  • Any new Tier 4 visa application must generally be for studying at a higher level than the previous study with a Tier 4 visa in the UK.
  • Study at the same academic level is only permitted in certain exceptional circumstances

Study at the same academic level

You can only study at the same level if:

  1. Your new course with Goldsmiths is related to your previous course (this means that your studies have to be connected, and part of the same subject group) or
  2. Your new course with Goldsmiths, combined with your previous course on a Tier 4 visa, genuinely supports your career aspirations. You will be asked to provide substantial evidence if you want to rely on this exception as part of the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) process.

You must also have successfully completed your last course.

If you do not meet the requirements for academic progression, we will not be able to issue you with a CAS statement (to apply for a visa inside the UK, or from overseas).

More on Tier 4 visas

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