Confirmation Of Acceptance For Studies Guide
So, you’ve decided you want to come to the UK for your studies, but if you’re looking to get your hands on a Tier 4 student visa, you’ll first need to make sure you have a Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number. This is a recent introduction to the criteria of applying for a Tier 4 visa, so let’s look at what it entails:
What is a CAS number?
A CAS number is a unique code that can be given to you by your education provider. It replaces visa letters, which used to be accepted by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
As of February 2010, however, it’s been a case of ‘no CAS, no visa’. It’s been compulsory to have a CAS number in order to apply for a Tier 4 visa rather than a visa letter, which the UKBA no longer accepts as part of an application. With the code taking an electronic form, it is intended to reduce the amount of paperwork required in the process, and ensure applications are genuine.
Who needs a CAS number?
Without a CAS number, a visa will immediately be rejected, so anyone applying to study in the UK from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland needs to make sure they have one.
For example, every year the UK welcomes students from far and wide, with Africa, North America, Australia and the Middle East all contributing high numbers of students to the UK’s higher education network. So if you’re a national of a country in any continent other than Europe, or if you’re from one of the European nations that are not in the EEA (not including Switzerland), you’ll need to make sure you have a CAS number.
A CAS number is also likely to be needed if you have studied in the UK before and now wish to continue or further your studies. For example, you might need to renew or extend your visa because your time in the UK didn’t quite go to plan, and you’ve found yourself needing to repeat a year or resit certain modules. Perhaps you’ve successfully completed an undergraduate degree and now want to move on to a Master’s course or Ph.D. in the UK on the back of it. If you’re particularly unfortunate, your institution may have lost its Tier 4 sponsorship, leaving you looking at transferring to a different one and applying for a new student visa.
Any of these situations will mean that you need to get a CAS number to make sure you’ve got the tools you need to get your visa sorted, and therefore allow you to get on with the exciting prospect of studying in the UK.
Why is a CAS number needed?
It acts as confirmation that a UK education provider has offered you an unconditional place on a course, which is necessary for a visa to be granted in accordance with UK immigration laws.
What was wrong with visa letters?
In a document released by the UKBA to explain the move from visa letters to CAS numbers, the organisation said that the previous process was open to abuse, with letters being created by bogus institutions and used as an illegal route to enter the UK. CAS numbers, on the other hand, offer unique codes that can be traced back to their providers.
How do I get a CAS number?
Your first step in obtaining your CAS number is to accept the unconditional offer given to you by your place of study. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be sent a CAS application form as part of the pre-registration process.
On receiving the CAS application form back from you, the college or university will get in touch with the UK Home Office to apply for your CAS number. The Home Office charges a fee for this, but in most cases this is paid by the school itself.
The Home Office will reply to the college or university with your CAS number, and they in turn will pass it on to you. Once you have it, you need to include it in your Tier 4 visa application.
Your CAS number may sound like yet another thing to worry about when applying to study in the UK, but in reality most of the legwork will be done by your place of study and the UK Home Office. All you need to do is be aware of what a CAS number is and make sure it is in your application, thus helping it go through smoothly and with no unwelcome interruptions.