General Conditions - Visas

If you are a non EEA* international student you will a Visa known as 'Entry Clearance' to study in the UK. (*EEA =European Economic Area is EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein)

Depending upon the length of the course you are undertaking at Keele, you will need to either apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa or a Student Visa. If you are a non EEA international student and already hold a non-student visa you will need to send a scanned copy of this to the admissions office before you start your course, to ensure that you are eligible to study in addition, we will need to see a copy of the original at enrolment.

To check if you will need 'entry clearance' to the UK, you can input your information on the online enquiry form provided by the UK Home Office (formally the UK Border Agency). If you are applying for a Visa to enter / remain the UK, please ensure that you read our 'How to Apply' gudie carefully.

Keele students are required to keep their own copies (paper or electronic) of their Visa, Passport and correspondence from the UK Home Office. In additional students are required to keep their own personal copy (paper or electronic) of any documentation they submit to the UK Home Office (formally the UK Border Agency), for example; when you apply for a new Visa or an extension to their current Visa. Original versions or copies of these documents will be requested by the University at enrolment and at any point during a student’s time at Keele.

All students are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure that they adhere to the conditions of their Visa (Leave to enter / remain) in the United Kingdom, and that Keele University is required to report on a student’s status and activity to external agencies including the UK Home Office (formally the UK Border Agency). Please note that if you are sponsored for a visa by Keele University (for example under Tier 4) we reserve the right to cancel this sponsorship if you do not adhere to the conditions of your visa (Leave to enter / remain) and / or the University.

Students who are in breach of the UK Immigration rules or who are not able to show to the University that have valid leave to remain / enter in the UK, will not be allowed to start / continue studying at Keele University. More information upon you immigration responsibilities and what can affect your Visa, including examples of what can cause your visa to be cancelled are contained within these pages.

Accuracy of Information

This information and guidance provided is regularly updated to reflect the current Immigration Rules and any announced expected changes. Any expected changes in the Immigration rules, will be cited in Italics as appropriate, once the rules have been published this information will be reviewed again to ensure accuracy. 

 

Information correct as of date of publishing - Last update 11 December 2013

Courses over 6 Months

If you undertake a course of study at Keele University that requires you to be based in the UK for longer than 6 months, we'll issue you with the necessary documentation to apply for a visa under Tier 4 of the Points Based System.

Under the rules of the Points Based System, the University will issue students with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). The CAS is an electronic record held on the UKBA system, and includes information about you and the course you'll be studying.

Your CAS will be issued when you have fulfilled all the conditions of your offer of a place at our University. This includes payment of a required deposit. Once we have issued a CAS for you, we'll send you a 'CAS Statement' outlining the details of your CAS, including the 'CAS number' that you will need to include on your visa application. Once you've received this, you can apply for your visa.

Courses under 6 Months

If you undertake a course of study at Keele University that requires you to be based in the UK for 6 months or less, we'll issue you with the necessary documentation to apply for a Student Visitor Visa. A Student Visitor Visa allows you to enter the UK and study for up to 6 months.

This applies particularly if you're coming to study on 1 semester programmes (such as Study Abroad) or are returning to undertake exams / viva where you do not need to be in the UK for longer than 6 months.

If you're coming to Keele University to study an English language course lasting less than 6 months, but intend to then continue studying with Keele on a degree programme, we may be able to issue you with a CAS (see courses over 6 month) that will enable you to apply for a Tier 4 Student visa to cover both the English language course and the degree programme. Please contact the International Admissions team for more information.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

If you're entering the UK to study at postgraduate level certain subject areas may require an ATAS certificate. At Keele University, this will mainly apply if you're undertaking a Research degree. If you require an ATAS certificate, your Research Institute will inform you during the admissions process.

For more information about ATAS, please visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

Tier 4 General visa

For the majority of students on courses that are over 6 months, that need a Visa to study in the UK, you will need to have a Tier 4 General visa. In addition, a student coming to study for less than six months will also need a Tier 4 General visa if your course requires you to need the right to work, such as if the course contains a work placement - paid or unpaid, or if you need to extend your studies in the UK, such as Completing a Pre-Sessional Course with Keele and progressing on to a Degree course at Keele.

When can you apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa?

You should make your visa application as early as possible. However, you cannot apply any more than three months before the start date of your course, as stated on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). If you submit your application before that, it will be refused.

The 'date of application' outside of the UK is the date on which you either pay for your visa application in 'online' process countries, or in countries where there is no online process, the date you attend the Visa Application Centre to hand in your application.

Where can you make your application?

You must make your Tier 4 (General) application in your home country or country where you are officially resident unless you are extending from within the UK. Most students will apply for their visa at the British High Commission, Embassy, Visa Application Centre (VAC) or Consulate closest to their home. You can find the closest Embassy to you at the FCO website.

The Embassy website will tell you where to apply for your visa. Please note that in some countries you can apply online. You will not usually be permitted to make a Tier 4 (General) application outside of your home country, or country where you are officially resident. If you want to submit a Tier 4 (General) application outside of your home country, we advise you to contact the British Diplomatic Post where you want to submit your application to ensure that it will be accepted. You are advised to not book a visa appointment until you receive you CAS Statement.

How long will the visa application take?

If you are applying from outside of the UK you must ensure that you allow enough time to apply, receive your visa and book travel to the UK by the start sate of your course as stated on your CAS statement and at the very latest before the last date of enrolment state on your CAS. The UK Home Office (Visas and Immigration) publish their expected visa processing times for each application centre on their web site.

If you are applying from inside the UK, you are able to do this in person at a Public Enquiry Office or by Post (known as Print and Send). The processing times for postal applications in the UK can vary dependent upon the time of year, the peaks of which are during August to October and December to March, the UK Home Office (Visas and Immigration) have published specific guidance for applications made in the UK, and these can be found here. If you are applying by post in the UK, as long as you have evidence to provide to the University that you have made a valid in time visa application under our licence (for Visa’s sponsored by Keele) we will in the majority cases allow you to continue your studies unless there is a risk that you application would fail, that by allowing you to study would be in breach of the immigration rules or that would be contrary to our duties and requirements as a sponsor.

Where can you find the application form?

Depending on where you live, you will either submit an online application, or you will send a paper application. You can find out how to make an application in your country on the UK Home Office website.

All applicants will have to post their original documents, including their passport, to the British Embassy or Visa Application Centre. All Tier 4 (General) applicants will complete the VAF9 and Appendix forms. In some countries, the VAF9 form is online. The VAF9 will ask for your personal details, such as your name, date of birth and passport details. The Appendix  form will ask you the details of your course of study and finances. When you are completing the Appendix form, make sure that you have all the details of your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) available.

Your CAS will have all the answers you need about your course, previous qualifications and financial details. Before you start to fill in your application form, you should read the Tier 4 Policy Guidance carefully as well as the VAF9 guidance notes. You must ensure that you fully complete each question which is relevant to you.

Tier 4 General guidance

The first place to look for information on applying for a Tier 4 General student visa is the UK Border Agency’s Tier 4 guidance. The guidance is constantly updated and gives full details of the requirements of the Tier 4 General visa, including the requirements for which documents you need to use to apply. The most recent changes will come into effect for applications made on or after 01 October 2013.

It is essential to check your application is in accordance with the official guidance. It is your responsibility to ensure that any documents, including certified translations into English, you use in the application are in accordance with the criteria detailed in it before making your application: Points Based System - Policy Guidance on the UK Border Agency website [PDF]

To successfully apply for a Tier 4 General visa, you must score 40 out of 40 points.

All documents you send with the application must be original versions (not copies) including your passport.

Points

What you get points for

Evidence required

30

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

CAS number issued by Keele University. This will be emailed to you once you have achieved the conditions of your offer and have paid your deposit.

Academic Qualifications

This is the academic qualification that the University used to assess your suitability for the course. The qualification will be noted on your CAS.

You must include your ORIGINAL certificate or transcripts detailed in the CAS with your visa application.

If you are a low risk national you may not be requested to provide original documents but you must have them available in case they are requested.

 

English Language Your CAS will state how the University assessed that your English language ability is to the required standard.

You must submit the ORIGINAL certificates, if this is stated on your CAS.

Some students will not need to submit evidence of their English language ability. If you do not need to submit evidence, your CAS will state that you:

  • Are from a UKBA defined majority English speaking country; or
  • Have completed a degree from a UKBA defined majority English speaking country; or
  • Have been assessed as suitable by the University’s own criteria and methods.
Progression   

If you have studied in the UK previously, your CAS must confirm how the new course represents academic progression from the previous one. For example, an undergraduate degree to a postgraduate degree.

ATAS certification

If your course requires ATAS clearance, you must provide a print out of this certificate.

 

10

Maintenance (funds)

You will need to demonstrate your ability to fund your tuition fees for the academic year plus a set amount for your living costs. 

Your CAS statement will state the tuition fee payable for the academic year. The living costs for Keele University are defined as £800 per month (up to a maximum of nine months; £7200) If you are in Keele University accommodation, and have made payments to the University, a maximum of £1000 of this payment can be deducted from your living costs.

The total amount (tuition fee plus living costs) must have been available to you for 28 days. The balance in your bank account must never fall below the required amount during the whole 28 day period. If it is below the required amount, your application will be refused. The last transaction date (on the bank statement) of that 28 day period must not be more than one month before the date of your application. For more information upon maintenance please see below.


All documents you provide to demonstrate your maintenance funds must be ORIGINAL. For Visa applications made on or after 01 October 2013 Electronic bank statements for all types of Bank Accounts will be considered by the UK Home Office, however these would need to meet the prescribed format, details below.

Maintenance (funds) continued

Students that are Self-funding; Self-funding means that you have provided the money yourself, or a member of your family has provided it. If you are self-funded the money must be held in either your account or your parent's account. It cannot be held in anyone else's name, be they either a relative or friend. You must ensure that your funds are in an institution that the UK Border Agency is able to verify, list of unacceptable institutions can be found here. The bank statement that you provide must show the following:

  • Your name or your parent's name(s) - If you are using your parents account you must provide a copy of your birth certificate with your visa application along with a signed letter agreeing to allow you to use these funds.
  • The account number
  • The date of the statement
  • The financial institution's name and logo and
  • The amount of money available for 28 days in the transaction list

If you wish to use a bank statement printed from an online bank account, the statement must meet the these requirements above AND be stamped by the bank to confirm it is genuine. For Visa applications made on or after 01 October 2013 Electronic bank statements for all types of Bank Accounts will be considered by the UKBA, however these would need to meet the prescribed format. You must ensure that the date of the closing balance on the statement is no more than one month before you submit your application. If the money is being held outside the UK, you must ensure it never drops below the required amount due to the exchange rates. Please use the UKBA approved exchange rate converter oanda to confirm this.

Students who have a current valid Tier 4 visa for a course over 6 months long are able to show fewer funds for their living costs. This is known as established presence and you are able to apply for a new visa (further leave to remain) with this concession either in the UK or outside of the UK. Established presence currently means that students only need to show a maximum amount of 2 months for their living costs, however the Visa application has to be valid and in time to qualify for this, to ensure that you are able to use this concessions please seek immigration advice (link above) before applying.


Students that are sponsored both for tuition fees and / or living expenses by an official financial sponsor, you will not need to show the amount in your bank account. An official financial sponsor is Her Majesty's Government, the student's home government, the British Council or any international organisation, international company, university or UK independent school. An official financial sponsor is not a friend or family member. Instead, you will need to obtain a letter from your financial sponsor confirming how they are supporting you. The letter must be recently dated (A copy of which must be sent to International Admissions prior to your CAS), on official letter-headed paper and must contain:

  • Your name
  • The name of your official financial sponsor
  • The contact details of your official financial sponsor
  • The length of financial sponsorship
  • A statement that your financial sponsor will cover all fees and / or living costs.
  • A statement confirming that the sponsorship is for Keele University and for your course of study.

Interviews

You might be required to attend an interview where an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO - person who assesses your visa application) will determine whether they believe you to be a 'genuine student'. If you are invited to an interview, the ECO may ask you about the following:

  • English language ability (you must be able to hold a basic conversation in English to the standard expected of your course level)
  • Your immigration history (previous UK visa application for instance)
  • Previous study (The ECO may ask you about your previous courses and how they relate to the course you will study at Keele University)
  • Knowledge of the course you are coming to study
  • Intentions (You should be able to talk about your future career, and how your course at Keele will help you to achieve your future goals)
  • Financial circumstances (how you intend to fund your studies for instance)

If you are a "low risk" student you may not be invited to an interview, to see if you are a low risk national please click here.

Refusals

If you meet the point’s requirements and send the required evidence, you should expect that your Tier 4 visa will be granted. However, if you have not provided Keele with accurate information and details of any previous study in the UK you visa may be refused, therefore it is very important to make sure that you get your application right first time.

If you do not send in all the original documents required, the UK Border Agency will not contact you to ask for missing documents. Incomplete or incorrect applications will be refused. If your application is refused you must send a copy of your refusal letter to cas@keele.ac.uk.

 

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

What is a CAS

A CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies) is a reference number to an electronic document held by the UK Home Office. A CAS is issued by Keele University for all new students and those students continuing at or returning to Keele who need to extend / re new their Visa.

A CAS is an agreement from Keele University to sponsor your visa to be in the UK for the sole purpose of study. Keele will only issue a CAS to a student who needs to be sponsored under Tier 4 of the immigration rules and who Keele believes will be able to make a successful application for a Tier 4 Visa.

Who needs a CAS

If you need a visa to study in the UK to undertaking a course of study that is over 6 months, or is under 6 months and a requirement of the course is that you need to be able to work (Work includes volunteering) you will need to apply for a Tier 4 Visa using a CAS.

How to get a CAS

If you are new student to Keele or are starting a new course; you will need to meet the conditions of your offer (if appropriate), pay your tuition fee deposit, provide copies (scanned email attachments) of your academic and English language qualification along with copies of your current valid passport and any previous UK visas to the International Admissions team (Undergraduate and Postgraduate taught programmes, Research students will need to provide this information to your Research Institute)

These documents will then be assessed and if we believe that you will be able to make a successful valid visa application we will issue you with a CAS Checklist. Once you receive your CAS Checklist, you will need to confirm that the information upon the check list is correct, and agree to the conditions attached, by responding to the checklist email before we issue you will a CAS. Please ensure that we have your personal email address as we cannot send a CAS to anyone else but the student directly.

A CAS for an incoming student will only be issued no earlier than three months prior to the start date of the course. From the point of receiving your CAS checklist we aim to issue a CAS Statement within 5 working days.

At any point during this process, if we need further information we will contact you via email.


If you are extending your Keele Visa, you will need to email cas@keele.ac.uk stating that you need a visa extension with the following information:

  1. Student Number
  2. Current personal email address
  3. Current contact address
  4. Reason for extension (example: repeat a year of studies)
  5. Confirmation that they are in a position to make a valid visa application (following immigration advice)
  6. Provide a copy of your current Visa and Passport (email attachments)
  7. Provide a copy of your valid ATAS certificate (if necessary)

Student’s needing to extend their Visa in the UK should apply for new leave to remain with a new CAS as soon as they know they need to extend. A CAS for a current student needing to extend will only be issued once International Recruitment and Development are stratified that the student is in a position to make a valid Visa application (please see the How to apply section) and that the student has at least one calendar month of valid leave (time left on their Visa) in the UK. From the point of receiving your CAS checklist we aim to issue a CAS Statement within 5 working days.

Once you have received your CAS statement you will need to apply for your visa extension. You are expected to make you application in time and within 10 working days of receiving your CAS statement. You will be required to keep a copy of all the documents you submit and get evidence of postage when sending your documents / email receipt of payment.

You will also be required to keep the University up-to-date with the progress of your Visa application, including any letters from the UKBA and notification of your visa being granted or refused. These documents will be requested from students and are required to be shown at enrolment, re-registration and checkpoint events. Failure to provide this information may result you being in contradiction of the University’s rules and regulations.

At any point during this process, if we need further information we will contact you via email.

Extensions for current Keele Students

If you are a current Keele student and need to extend your Tier 4 visa during your studies, for example if you need to repeat a year of your course you should do this as soon as possible and try to apply from within the UK.

Before you apply for a Visa extension we strongly advise you to seek immigration advice from International Student support, or Advice and Support at Keele (ask) service in the Students Union.

Students who need to extend their Tier 4 Visa will need to email cas@keele.ac.uk stating they need a visa extension with the following information:

  1. Student Number
  2. Current personal email address
  3. Current contact address
  4. Reason for extension (example: repeat a year of studies)
  5. Confirmation that they are in a position to make a valid visa application (following immigration advice)
  6. Provide a copy of your current Visa and Passport (email attachments)
  7. Provide a copy of your valid ATAS certificate (if necessary)

Once you have received your CAS statement you will need to apply for your visa extension. You are expected to make you application in time and within 10 working days of receiving your CAS statement. You will be required to keep a copy of all the documents you submit and get evidence of postage when sending your documents / email receipt of payment.

You will also be required to keep the University up-to-date with the progress of your Visa application, including any letters from the UKBA and notification of your visa being granted or refused. These documents will be requested from students and are required to be shown at enrolment, re-registration and checkpoint events. Failure to provide this information may result you being in contradiction of the University’s rules and regulations.

What can affect your Visa

Once you apply for / have been granted your Visa (entry clearance) following your application your responsibilities do not end there. You are expected to understand and abide by the conditions attached to your Visa, some of which will be printed on your Visa stamp, vignette sticker or your BRP card (Biometric Residence permit)

Students on Tier 4

As a Tier 4 sponsor Keele University is required to report to the UK Home Office within 10 days on any student that we have issued as CAS to / or who is on a Tier 4 visa. Depending upon the severity of the situation we may need to withdraw our sponsorship and thus cancel your Visa.

Common reasons why your Visa will be cancelled and sponsorship withdrawn are listed below:

  • Failure to enrol and arrive on time
  • Failure to attend all of expected classes, tutorials, lectures, lab sessions, exams, submit course work and other course content. (Unless you seek prior authorisation to be absent from your School / RI)
  • Failure to Pay Fees to the University, including Tuition Fees and accommodation charges
  • Failure to attend a Compulsory Checkpoint
  • Leave of absence
  • Deferring from your studies
  • Self-withdrawal from Keele University
  • Withdrawal by Keele University
  • Academic Failure
  • Failure to abide by the University’s rules and regulations

Please note that this is not an inclusive list of what can cause a student to be withdrawn from the University.

Once sponsorship has been withdrawn your Visa will be curtailed (cancelled) automatically by the UK Home Office and Keele University is not able to stop this process. They will send correspondence to your registered UK address advising you how long you have until you need to leave the UK or find a new sponsor.

The University is also required to report to the UK Home Office when you; require an extension to your last date of enrolment with agreement from the Visa Compliance Team and your School / RI, Change your course of study,  complete you course before your end date stated on your CAS (This will result in your Visa being curtailed).

Absenteeism

As a student of Keele University you are expected to attend all of your classes, tutorials, lectures, student meetings and that you seek prior permission from you School of study / Research Institute for any absences. As a Tier 4 sponsor Keele University is required to report to the UKBA any unapproved absences from an expected contact, and if the number of unapproved absences from expected contacts is more than 10 individual consecutive events the University is required, as a Tier 4 sponsor to withdraw sponsorship of your Visa.

For example if you are unwell you are expected to contact your School of study / Research Institute and get permission prior to the expected contact (class, tutorial, lecture etc.) If you do not inform and get permission from your School of study / Research Institute the absence will be recorded as unauthorised.

Please note this does not affect / change any rules or regulations with regards to absenteeism and Academic warnings.

Work

If you are permitted to work in the UK this will be stated on your Visa along with the number of hours that you are permitted to work per week (the number of hours is not cumulative) during term time. For some students the restriction upon the hours per week you can work is not applicable during the University’s official vacation time.

If you are a postgraduate student who is researching and writing up your dissertation during the University’s vacation dates, you are still restricted to the number of hours of work permitted as stated on your Visa.

Keele University Calendar defines term / semester dates along with the University vacation dates.

Depending upon your visa type (immigration category) there maybe addition restrictions. These include: No work as; an entertainer, a doctor in training (unless the course that you have a visa to do), a professional sportsperson (including coach), Self- Employed and that you must not be filling a full time permanent vacancy. Please note that this does not necessarily apply to Postgraduate doctors, dentists or Student Union sabbatical officers or work placements.

It is your responsibility to abide by these restrictions. If you are found to be breaking the immigration rules the UK Home Office will take action against you and your employer.

Registration with the Police

Some students will need to register with the Police when they first arrive in the UK, or when you have a change of personal circumstances, listed below.  Police registration, both initial and any changes must be done within 7 days. Keele University will assist new students who enrol in September to register with the Police, or provide guidance upon how you can do it yourself.

Change of personal circumstances:

  • Change of address
  • Change of course of study
  • Change of marital status
  • Have a New Passport
  • New Visa

Please note that this is not an inclusive list and it is your responsibility to abide by this requirement of your Visa.

Your Immigration Responsibilities

If you need a visa to be in the UK, you must comply with the immigration conditions attached to your visa. Your responsibilities to the University are: 

  • Provide the University you passport and visa / biometric IF card when you register, at three contact points throughout the year, upon request and if any of your details changed (example – passport renewal).
  • Ensure that your visa is valid for student at Keele University
  • Keep you contact details in the UK and those in your home contact up to date via e:vision
  • Register for you course on time each academic year. If this isn’t possible, inform us so that we can assist you where possible.
  • Study whilst you are in the UK, ensure that you attend all of your classes, tutorials or lectures and that you seek prior permission from your School of study / Research Institute  for any absences.
  • Following the University’s procedures if you need to take a leave of absence or withdraw from our course
  • Leave the UK if you take a leave of absence, withdraw from your course, or if you course is terminated
  • Comply with the conditions attached to your visa regarding working in the UK
  • Seek immigration advice from International student support before you consider changing university
  • Check you University email account regularly for immigration information and updates.

Keele students are required to keep their own copies (paper or electronic) of their Visa, Passport and correspondence from the UK Home Office. In additional students are required to keep their own personal copy (paper or electronic) of any documentation they submit to the UK Home Office (formally the UK Border Agency), for example; when you apply for a new Visa or an extension to their current Visa. Original versions or copies of these documents will be requested by the University at an point during a student’s time at Keele.

All students are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure that they adhere to the conditions of their Visa (Leave to enter / remain) in the United Kingdom, and that Keele University is required to report on a student’s status and activity to external agencies including the UK Home Office (formally the UK Border Agency). Please note that if you are sponsored for a visa by Keele University (for example under Tier 4); we reserve the right to cancel this sponsorship if you do not adhere to the conditions of your visa (Leave to enter / remain) and / or the University. 

Checkpoints

Keele University requires student's to attend at least 3 mandatory checkpoint events each academic year for which you will be given notice. These checkpoints are run centrally for international students and are separate to your attendance on your course of study. At a checkpoint you will be required to present an original copy of your Visa and Passport for inspection, you may also be required to present copies of your Academic and English language qualifications. Failure to attend a checkpoint will be deemed as failure to comply with the University’s Tier 4 responsibilities and students who do not attend, or fail to present the required information (as above) will be withdrawn.

Withdrawn students

Students who are withdrawn by the University (for example Academic failure or non payment of Fees) will have the sponsorship of their Visa by Keele cancelled, we will inform the UK Home Office (Visas and Immigration) of this within 10 working days from the date of your withdrawal, this is known as curtailment of your Visa. Students in this situation will be served a curtailment notice from the UK Home Office (Visas and Immigration) stating that they will have set period of time to either leave the UK or find a new Tier 4 sponsor or a new Immigration category that they can apply to move into. This period of time is either 60 days from the notice of your visa being cancelled or the end of your current leave to be in the UK, whichever is the sooner.

Students are reminded that anyone that is in breach of the UK Immigration rules (for example those that are an overstayer) will not be allowed to undertake / continue studying at Keele University.

Immigration advice at Keele

Immigration advice at Keele can be obtained from either International Student Support or from Advice and Support at Keele (ask) service in the Students Union.

 

Immigration advice outside of Keele

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provide independent advice for all international students on a range of topics, including immigration advice.

If you seek immigration advice outside of these sources, please ensure that the adviser is regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).