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Tier 4 visa: What to know before applying in 2021-22

Tier 4 visa work rules
The Student Route officially replaced the Tier 4 Route in October 2020. Here's what you should know about it. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

Heading to the UK? Then obtaining the Tier 4 visa (as it is formerly known) is one of the vital steps in your preparation. Here’s the latest lowdown on what you need to know before planning your study abroad adventure in 2021 and 2022.

Tier 4 visa is now known simply as “Student visa”

The Student Route officially replaced the Tier 4 Route in October 2020, reassigning it under the UK’s latest points-based immigration system. This system follows the Canadian and Australian models, which make it easier for you to progress from student to worker to permanent resident. The Student Route leads to the Graduate Route, which allows international graduates to work in the UK for up to three years.

Tier 4 visa

A passenger wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including a face mask and a full face visor as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 upon arrival at Manchester Airport. Source: Oli Scarf/AFP

Working under the student visa

Yes, international students may work under Tier 4 visa — following certain rules, of course. International students in the UK who are above the age of 16 may work up to 20 hours a week during the term, but you may work longer hours during vacation. Find out the rules and stick to it, because the UK Home Office takes work and study violations seriously; you can be removed from your university and the UK for stepping outside the parameters of your Tier 4 visa.

When and how to apply

You should apply for a student visa up to six months before your course starts. You would need to first secure your place in a UK university, and provide the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies document to prove it. Therefore, you should only choose from universities that have been approved as a licensed sponsor by the UK government.

There are two ways to apply. The first one involves submitting an application along with biometric information at a nearby visa application centre. This could expedite visa processing, because you would get a biometric residence permit.

Besides that, you may also use the “UK Immigration: ID Check” app to scan your documents to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Applicants typically hear back within three weeks. See which is right for you on the official website.

Take note of the costs, too. You will have to pay an application fee of 348 pounds, as well as an annual Immigration Health Surcharge of 470 pounds. The latter grants you access to the UK’s National Health Service, through which you may also get vaccinated.