Biometric Residence Permit (BRP): When you extend your visa from within the UK, your visa will take the form of a BRP. This is a separate card and not a vignette in your passport.

Common Travel Area: This area includes: the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Within these areas, there are no immigration controls on a person’s movement.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS): This is an electronic document with a unique reference number, issued by the university to students who have firmly accepted a place on their course of study. Any student making a Tier 4 application will need a valid CAS.

Consulate: A foreign government division which controls the issuing of visas is known as a consulate. In some cases, some consulates state that some people with residence in certain countries must apply for visas through their other consulates based in the UK.

Dependant: The UKVI defines a dependant as the “husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner, same-sex partner or child” of a person with a valid visa. Only some visa categories allow migrants to have dependants join them in the UK.

Embassy: This is the official representation of a foreign government in the UK, with its own ambassador and personnel, usually based in London.

Entry Clearance: This is the type of visa you apply for if you are applying from your home country (also known as leave to enter). An entry clearance visa will normally take the form of a vignette (sticker) in your passport.

European Economic Area (EEA): Anyone who is a national of a country belonging to the EEA (or Switzerland) is free to study in the UK without a obtaining a visa. As of 1 July 2013, the EEA consists of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. While students from countries that have recently joined the European Union are free to study in the UK without a visa, some working restrictions may still apply.

Length of stay: A visa (whether a vignette or BRP) will clearly state the duration of stay within a country for which it has been granted. In some cases, there is the opportunity to extend the length of stay, but this depends on the category of visa.

Maintenance: Money which covers cost of academic fees and cost of living.

Official Sponsor: Under Tier 4 Student Visa, an official sponsor is financial support from one of the following:

  • The British Government
  • The student’s home government
  • The British Council
  • Any International Organisation, Company or University.

Points Based System (PBS): This is the UK’s current system of immigration. Almost everyone wishing to work or study in the UK needs to apply for a visa under this system. There are 5 tiers under the PBS.

Public funds: In terms of immigration purposes, public funds are those which are government funded. These include: attendance allowance, child benefit, council tax benefit, disability living allowance, disabled person’s tax credit, working families’ tax credit, housing benefit, income based jobseeker’s allowance, income support, invalid care allowance, severe disablement allowance and housing as a homeless person or from a local authority housing register.

Sponsor Licence: Education providers must be licensed by the UKVI to sponsor students to come  under Tier 4 of the Points Based System. GCU is a Sponsor. This should not be confused with financial sponsorship. See Official Sponsor.

Switching: An individual, who is legally already in the UK, who changes their immigration status without having to leave the UK.

Tier 4 visa: Tier 4 is the route of the points based system for students, postgraduate doctors and dentists and student union sabbatical officers. Most non-EEA students planning to study in the UK will have to apply under for a Tier 4 visa.

UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI): The division of the UK government’s Home Office that considers visa applications from outside and inside the UK, and controls immigration at points of entry into the UK.

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA): This is an advisory body that serves the interests of international students in the UK, and the educational institutions that host them. 

Visa: An entry in a passport or a biometric residence permit, permitting the holder to legally enter or remain in a country. A visa is not a guarantee of entry to the UK; a person’s access to the UK is at the discretion of immigration staff at the port of entry.