Tier 4 student visas allow people from outside of the European Economic Area to enter the UK as a student, usually either at a school, college, or university. In order to apply for a Tier 4 student visa you will need to have Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) at a UK educational institution that holds a valid Tier 4 sponsorship license. The option to enter the UK on a Prospective Student visa ended in October 2013.
Tier 4 visa students must spend at least 15 hours a week in study, and the student must be able to meet the cost of the course, maintenance and accommodation without working. Loans are available from Student Finance to cover tuition fees for Tier 4 students at UK universities. However, help with maintenance and other costs is usually restricted to UK and EU nationals, and those with legal residence; usually this means anyone who's legally been in the UK for 3 years or more.
Some Tier 4 students may work for up to 20 hours per week while they study. However, changes to UK immigration law brought in in 2015 mean that Tier 4 students at publicly further education colleges may no longer work.
These changes to Uk immigration law also mean that Tier 4 visa holders at further education colleges may no longer switch to another UK visa category from inside the UK when their studies finish, such as Tier 2 or Tier 5 work visas. Tier 4 college students who wish to work in the UK after their studies finish must now leave the UK and apply for a UK work visa from outside of the country. Students at UK universities are not affected by these changes.
Some Tier 4 (General) Student visas allow family members to apply to come to the UK with the visa holder, or to remain if already in the UK. Family members covered include married, civil, and unmarried partners; and children under the age of 18. Tier 4 students must meet at least one of the requirements :
Studying towards an NQF level 7 (UK Master's degree) or higher qualification in the UK for at least 1 year, OR;
Sponsored by the UK government on a course lasting at least 6 months, OR;
Studying on a Doctorate Extension Scheme