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How to Apply for Your Tier 4 Student Visa

Most students from outside the EU / EEA who wish to study on a full-time course of more than six months in the UK will need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa in order to study at Sotheby’s Institute of Art-London. If you are currently overseas, you will need to obtain a Tier 4 visa before traveling to the UK. You can make your Tier 4 visa application a maximum of three months before your program start date. The earliest your visa can start is one month before your program start date.

You will be eligible to apply for a Tier 4 visa if you can claim the 40 points required under the Tier 4 student visa category.

  • 30 points for having a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a Tier 4 sponsor
  • 10 points for having enough money to cover course fees and monthly living costs, also known as maintenance or funds
  • You must also meet the English Language requirements
  • You must meet the Financial Evidence requirements
  • You must not be subject to refusal under general grounds (for example, declared previous refusals/criminal records etc.)

Please ensure you read all the guidance provided by the UKVI before contacting us.

You can follow these steps to prepare your documents for your Tier 4 student visa application.

To Apply for Your Tier 4 Student Visa You Must:

  • hold an unconditional offer for a full-time course Sotheby’s Institute of Art and have been issued with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
  • prove that you can pay for your course and living costs
  • show that at the time of completing your new course you won't have spent more than five years studying at degree level in the UK on a student visa

STEP 1: Your Conditional/Unconditional Offer

We encourage you to please read the conditions of your offer letter and the terms and conditions very carefully. By accepting an offer for a place to study at Sotheby’s Institute of Art-London you agree to all of the Student Contract/Terms and Conditions.

A conditional offer means that you have not yet fulfilled the criteria set in your offer letter, such as academic requirements, English language or other entry requirements, please refer to your offer letter. If you are awaiting results of an English Language test please ensure that you submit the result as soon as it is available to. You will need to bring the original certificate when you enroll at the Institute (unless Sotheby’s Institute of Art is able to verify your results online with the test provider e.g. IELTS TRF service).

Other documents required for an unconditional offer. These may include submitting a copy of the bio page of your current passport, copies of any previous Tier 4 visas you have held, or an academic reference. Please ensure you email these documents as soon as possible to the Admissions Team.

Once you have met the conditions of your offer, you must contact the Admissions team who will then assess that you are eligible to be upgraded to an unconditional offer in order for Sotheby’s Institute of Art to be able to issue a CAS.

An unconditional offer means that you have been offered a place to study at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and do not have any outstanding conditions which need to be met before you can be accepted onto the program.

Once you have achieved unconditional status, you can submit your bank statements for assessment, and any other relevant supporting documents and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) request to the Admissions team. Your Tier 4 visa application must be supported with a CAS provided by the Admissions Office. Your CAS letter will be sent to you by email and you must enter the CAS reference number in the relevant section of the Tier 4 visa application. You do not need to submit your CAS letter when applying for your visa.

Please note that you will not receive an unconditional offer or be issued with a CAS until we have received evidence of your English language ability (if you were required to submit this).

STEP 2: Obtaining your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from Sotheby’s Institute of Art

The Institute can only issue a CAS when you have met the following conditions:

  • You have achieved unconditional offer status.
  • You have provided evidence of all qualifications as requested.
  • You have provided a copy of the passport you intend to use to apply for your Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  • You have demonstrated that you are a genuine student and have met all of UKVI's Tier 4 eligibility criteria.
  • You have met all of the Institute’s CAS eligibility criteria.
  • You have provided evidence that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition fees and living expenses during your studies.
  • You have paid your full first semester tuition fees unless you are exempt.

UKVI Finance and Maintenance Requirement

The UKVI requires you to show that you have at least £1,265 for each month of your studies up to a maximum of nine months which is £11,385.

If you're a financially sponsored student, your sponsor must be officially recognized as such (e.g. British Council, a government, an international organization or company, a university). If your sponsor is not meeting all your costs then you must provide proof that you have the remaining funds available.

Your tuition fees can either be held in your bank account for the 28 days required or you can pay them directly to the Institute. Your CAS can be updated with any additional fee payments you make if you inform us.

You must provide the Admissions Team evidence that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition fees and living expenses during your studies (this applies to all applicants including nationals from countries that are eligible for different documentary requirements by UKVI). This evidence must be in the form of a bank statement (covering 28 consecutive days period-finishing on the date of the closing balance) or other document confirming the funds available to you.

Tuition Fees

The tuition fee amount you need to pay will be indicated in your CAS. Please note that any outstanding tuition fees must be paid by or on enrollment.

Please note that once we have received all required documents and/or fee payment your CAS will normally be issued within 5 working days from the date of receipt.

Issuing a CAS and/or a CAS Letter does not guarantee that an applicant will be successful in securing a UK visa/leave to remain permission. The Institute is not responsible for any decisions made by the Home Office/UKVI and cannot accept any liability for an applicant failing to obtain a visa/leave to remain and/or for the consequences and/or losses (whether financial or otherwise) of such failure. Nor is Sotheby’s Institute of Art liable for consequences of declining to issue a CAS/CAS Letter for an applicant on request.

For more information on the conditions that must be met before a CAS is issued please refer to our CAS Issuance Policy.

Deadline to Apply for a CAS

If you are applying for a CAS from outside the UK. Latest date we will assign you with a CAS if you have confirmed you will be using one of the following visa applications services:

  • Standard Visa Application service – 4 weeks before latest start date
  • Priority Visa Application Service- 3 weeks before latest start date
  • Super Priority (1 day) Visa Application Service- 1 week before latest start date
    Requesting your CAS

Please click here to be redirected to the CAS Request form.

STEP 3: Applying for Your Tier 4 (General) Visa

Once we have assigned your CAS and you have received your CAS letter from us, you should be able to apply for your Tier 4 visa. If you are applying for a visa from outside of the UK, please refer to the UKVI Tier 4 (General) visa guidance for information on the visa application process. Please provide us with a copy of your visa once it has been approved.

How and Where to Submit Your Application

A Tier 4 visa application is made on-line, unless you are from North Korea, in which case you must make a paper application.

You need to make the application from the country that you are ordinarily resident in. If you hold a residence permit in a country other than your nationality you may be able to apply from there. Please check this first with the local British Embassy/High Commission.

When to Make an Application

The earliest you can submit an application is 3 months before the start date of your program. If you submit an application earlier than this you will automatically be refused. The application date is the date you pay for your application (whether this is online or at a visa application centre). This is the date shown on your payment receipt.

Healthcare charge All Tier 4 student visa applications made for a program of study of more than 6 months in duration must pay a fee for access to the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. You must pay this fee in advance and it is a mandatory requirement for a visa application. If you do not pay it your visa application will be refused.

What Do You Need To Make an Application?

  • Application form: You will need to print off a copy of your on-line application. Application fee: You will need to pay the application fee.
  • NHS surcharge: You will need to pay the immigration health surcharge fee as part of your application. You can calculate the surcharge fee using the calculator on the UKVI website
    Passport(s): You will need to provide your current passport and any previous passports needed as part of the application.
  • Proof of qualifications: You will need to provide certificates or transcripts of the qualifications you used to obtain your unconditional offer at the Institute. These documents will be listed on your CAS. You only need to provide the documents listed there. If your documents are not in English you will need to provide official verified translations in addition to the originals.
  • English language: Your CAS letter will state whether you need to provide proof of English
  • CAS statement: Your CAS from the Institute.
  • Financial evidence: For information about what evidence you need to provide for your finances please see the UKVI guidance on Finance and Maintenance Requirement. If your documents are not in English you will need to submit an official verified translation.
  • TB screening: in some countries you must show that you have been screened for Tuberculosis (TB). Please check with your local visa application centre to find out if you need to obtain a certificate confirming you are free from TB before you apply for a visa. More information can be found on the UKVI website.

Traveling with Family Dependents

You can bring your husband, wife, unmarried partner, and children (under 18) to the UK with you as a Tier 4 dependent if one of the following applies to you:

  • You are studying a postgraduate course of 9 months or more
  • You are a government-sponsored student and studying a course at any level of 6 months or more

Your dependents can apply to enter the UK at the same time as you or they can apply separately at a later date. If they do not apply at the same time as you they should ensure that you have received your visa before they make an application themselves.

Each of your dependents will have to show that they have at least £845 for each month of the main Tier 4 migrant's leave, up to a maximum of 9 months (£7,605).

You and your family dependents will have to apply for entry clearance in your home country before traveling to the UK.

After You Apply

Please email a scanned copy of your visa to the Admissions Team once it has been approved.

Important Notice

Issuing a CAS does not guarantee that a student will be successful in securing a Tier 4 student visa. Sotheby’s Institute of Art-London is not responsible for any decisions made by the Home Office and will not accept liability for any student failing to obtain a visa and/or for any losses incurred. Points to help you avoid a visa refusal include:

  • Only use your CAS number to apply for a visa up to three months before the date your course is due to start.
  • When you make your Tier 4 visa application you must include all original documents stated on your CAS, where required. Failure to do so could result in a visa refusal.
  • If you are applying for your Tier 4 visa from inside the UK your course must start within 28 days of your current visa expiry date.

The issuing of a CAS is at the Institute's discretion and Sotheby’s Institute of Art reserves the right not to issue a CAS under certain circumstances. Examples include:

  • Insufficient time to make a successful Tier 4 visa application.
  • Student does not have the required maintenance funds.
  • Student is unlikely to arrive before the latest course start date.
  • Student has submitted documents or made statements that are deemed to be fraudulent.
  • CAS request is submitted after the deadline.
  • CAS request is submitted more than 90 days before a course starts.
  • Student has exceeded (or will exceed by the end of their course) the maximum time allowed on a Tier 4 student visa.
  • Student does not meet UKVI Academic Progression requirement, which states that an applicant who has studied in the UK previously should be progressing academically to the next level of study (exceptions can be made if the new course is either related to the previous course, or the previous course and the new course combined support the student's career goals).

Academic Progression

In order to show academic progression the new course should normally be above the level of the previous course for which permission to stay in the UK as a student was granted (ie, progressing from an undergraduate to a postgraduate degree program). However, if the new course is at the same level as the previous course, it may exceptionally be considered to represent academic progression. If you wish to study a course with us which is at the same level as your current course, you are advised to contact the Admissions Office for further advice.


You are not required to demonstrate academic progression in the following circumstances:

  • You are making a Tier 4 (General) application from overseas.
  • You are making a first application to complete an existing course commenced at a Tier 4 sponsor that had its license revoked.
  • You are applying to re-sit an examination or repeat a course module.
  • You are applying to complete the PhD or other doctoral qualification for which you were last given Tier 4 or student leave (including where you are completing the qualification at a new sponsor).

Time Limits for Studying in the UK

In April 2012 the Home Office introduced limits on how long students could study in the UK at degree level and above. If you wish to apply for a Tier 4 visa to study with us, your visa application must lead to you spending no more than five years (60 months) studying in the UK, at degree level.

When calculating the five years you should include any time given before the course start date (maximum one month) and after the course end date (maximum four months).

Sotheby’s Institute of Art is not able to issue a CAS if study with us will take you beyond the maximum time allowed.


There are some limited exemptions to the five-year cap:

  • If you are applying to study a Master's program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and the five-year cap will prevent you from completing a fifth year of academic study at degree level. In these cases, the UKVI has introduced a concession policy cap which extends the cap to five years and 11 months.
  • If you have completed a four-year undergraduate degree and wish to undertake a Master's program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, the cap is extended to six years. In cases where the cap would prevent the completion of a sixth year of academic study, the UKVI has introduced a concession policy cap which extends the cap to six years and 11 months.

How Will UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Calculate the Duration of my Study?

The UKVI will consider how much leave you have already received to study a 'degree level' course – on a Tier 4 (General) visa or an old style Student Visa if you studied in the UK before 2009 - and add the length of leave that you will receive if your visa application for the course you wish to pursue is granted. They will base their calculation on the 'valid from' date and the 'valid until' date of each period of leave. The UKVI will count time in months, with individual days rounded upwards or downwards to the nearest month. Dates falling on the middle day of the month will be rounded downwards. If you have two visas with an overlapping period, the overlapping period will not be double-counted.

When calculating the five-year study period caseworkers will not include any time spent in the UK as a Tier 4 (Child) Student or Foundation degree ( below NQF level 6), or any time spent in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) Student aged 16 or 17 years.

Study undertaken on any other non-Tier 4 visa which permits study, such as a Points Based System Dependent visas, or Short Term Student Visa, will not be included in the study calculation. However, periods of leave granted but not spent studying (for example, if you withdrew before completion) will be included until the date your visa was curtailed (if it was ever curtailed).