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  Tier 4 of the Points Based System  

Recently the UK Government has made some big changes to the visa and immigration regulations for anyone wishing to study or work in the UK and has introduced the Points-Based Immigration System. To support you with your visa application, we have included some guidelines below which we hope will help you understand the new system and provide useful advice for you when applying for your visa.

What is the Points Based System?

This is a new system for supporting entry to the UK for the purposes of work, study and training. The Points Based System comprises 5 tiers and it is being introduced gradually, tier by tier. Tier 4 will affect all international students from outside of the European Union and European Economic Area applying for entry clearance/student visa to come to the UK.

How will the Points Based System affect international students?

When applying for entry clearance, you will be required to pass a points-based assessment and score 40 points in order to qualify for entry to study.

How will international students obtain 40 points?

The 40 points are split as follows:
30 points for a Visa Letter issued by a licensed sponsor
10 points for maintenance (money to cover fees and living expenses)

What is a Visa Letter?

The Visa Letter is the letter that you will receive from Birmingham City University once you have paid your deposit. The letter will confirm your offer of a place at the University, as well as including your personal details and course details. It will also include the details of the deposit amount you have paid and the documents that have been assessed in order to make your offer.

What is a licensed sponsor?

In the case of students, a licensed sponsor is an education provider who is registered with the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

What is Maintenance?

Maintenance describes the money you will need to show as available to cover your first year's tuition fees and monthly living expenses for your first 12 months in the UK. The UK Border Agency recognises that it is not reasonable for a person on a 3 or 4 year course to have all their funds in place before they come to the UK so it will accept the following as evidence of sufficient funds:
For students on courses of less than 12 months: sufficient funds to cover the full costs of their course fees plus £600 for each month of the course up to a maximum of 12 months.
For students on courses which are more than 12 months: sufficient funds to pay the first year of fees only plus £5,400 to cover their first year in the UK.

Further information

For further information on the new Points Based System, we strongly recommend that you refer to the following UKBA web pages where you can download the "Guidance for students applying from 31st March 2009" document:

Additionally, further useful information and guidance on the Points Based System can be found on the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website at:

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