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CAS Number Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to frequently asked questions about the process of arranging a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number.

How the RCA will arrange your CAS number

1. What is a CAS number?

CAS stands for Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. UK immigration rules require the College to sponsor your application for a student visa (this is not the same as financial sponsorship). A CAS number confirms that we have made you an offer of a place to study with us, and that you have accepted this.

2. Why do I need a CAS number?

You will need a CAS number to apply for a visa to allow you to study in the UK.

3. How do I get a CAS number?

The College will apply to the UK Government's Home Office for your CAS number, confirming that we have made you an offer of a study place, and that you have accepted this. The Home Office will then issue a CAS number for you. They will send this to the College, and we will tell you what this is.

4. I have previously studied in the UK on a student visa. Will I be eligible for a CAS number for a second student visa?

Yes, providing you meet the UK Government's requirements relating to 'academic progression' and time


  • The qualification you have applied to study should normally be at a higher level than any qualification you have previously studied on a UK student visa. For example, if you have previously studied a Bachelors degree in the UK, the next qualification of study here should be at Masters level or higher. In some circumstances, it is possible to study at the same academic level as a previous course. We will let you know whether this is possible after you submit your degree course application.
  • Any new Tier 4 application must lead to you spending no more than five years on courses at degree (undergraduate / MA / MRes) level. This includes Tier 4 leave and pre-Tier 4 student leave. In certain circumstances, the five-year cap is extended, up to 6 years 11 months. Architecture is exempt from this requirement. If you later make another application to study a different course, the time you were previously granted will be counted towards the cap.  
  • If you have already completed a PhD (or one of the postgraduate research qualifications listed in annex 4 of the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance) in the UK, any new Tier 4 application is subject to an 8-year limit. This includes all previous study at all levels, but it does not include time spent on the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
  • Full details about these time limits can be found in the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance, paragraphs 110–128.

5. When will the RCA arrange my CAS number?

The process of arranging your CAS number will begin after you have accepted your programme and paid your deposit, but not normally more than three months before the programme starts. This is because any request for a visa for a programme that does not start for more than three months will be rejected. We strongly advise that you do not book flights or accommodation in the UK until you have received your visa.

6. My email address has changed. What should I do?
If the email address you used in your application is no longer valid, please let us know your new address by emailing [email protected]. Please include in your email your name, your applicant number, and the title of the course you have applied to study.

7. Do I have to pay a fee deposit before the University applies for my CAS number?
If you have applied for a taught postgraduate course and we have asked you to pay a fee deposit, we will only apply for your CAS number when you have paid your fee deposit.

8. I have already accepted an offer for a course starting in September, but you have not yet emailed me about applying for my CAS number. Why?

You can only apply for your visa a maximum of three months before your course starts, so we only apply for your CAS number when it is less than three months before the course start date.

9. Can I apply for a student visa with my offer letter?
No, you can only apply for your visa with the CAS number arranged by the College.

10. Can I apply to the Home Office directly for my CAS number?
No. Only government-approved education providers can apply for CAS numbers, on behalf of applicants who have applied to study with them. The Royal College of Art is an approved education provider.

Confirming your CAS Application Information

1. What do I need to do to help the College apply for my CAS number?
In order to apply for a CAS number, we will need a copy of your passport, degree certificate and, in most cases, confirmation of your English Language capability (normally your IELTS certificate). Like many countries, the UK operates a strict immigration policy. If the information we submit to the Home Office is not the same as that on your passport and other documents, your application for a visa to study here will be refused.

2. What will happen if my CAS Application Information is incomplete or different to my passport and the supporting documents I use when I apply for my visa?
Your visa application will be refused. It is essential that all the relevant information must be present and the same as on your passport and supporting documents. This is why it is important that you check your visa application very carefully.

3. The Home Office charge a fee for issuing a CAS number. Will I have to pay this?
No. The Home Office do charge a fee for issuing a CAS number, but the College will pay this.

4. How will you tell me my CAS number?
When the Home Office have assigned you a CAS number, we will email you to confirm this.

5. How long will applying for a CAS number take?
The College processes hundreds of student cases, and the processing of these is a very detailed and time-consuming one. We aim to provide you with your CAS as early as possible, but the CAS number cannot be provided more than 3 months before the start of your course. We aim to provide it to you within 20 days of this three-month deadline, or within 10 working days of receipt of the necessary documentation (whichever is the later). If you have not received your CAS Statement within these time frames, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

6. I won't meet the conditions of my offer until shortly before my course starts. Will there still be time to arrange my CAS number and visa?
Applicants often receive their results in late August and still manage to arrange their CAS number and visa in time to start their course in September. If you receive an offer only a few weeks before your course is due to start, we should be able to arrange your CAS number within approximately a week. Visa offices are aware of the deadlines applicants are working to and try to accommodate this where possible.

7. What should I do when I receive my CAS number?
After you have received your CAS number, you can find details of how to make your visa application on the Home Office website. Please note that you will only be able to apply for your visa a maximum of three months before the date your course is due to start.

8. When can I use my CAS number to apply for a visa?
You can use your CAS number to apply for a visa up to three months before the date your course is due to start.

9. Do I need a paper copy of my CAS Statement?
No. The CAS number links to an electronic record on the Home Office database, and so you will only need to enter the number on your visa application.

10. How long will my CAS number be valid for?
You CAS number will be valid for six months. This means that you should apply for your visa within six months of being issued with a CAS number. Please note that you will only be able to apply for your visa a maximum of three months before the date your course is due to start.

11. Can I use my CAS number to apply for a visa to study on another course or at another

No. CAS numbers are linked to the specific course you have applied for. This is why we only apply for a CAS number when you have accepted an offer.

12. Can my friend use my CAS number?
No. Your CAS number is unique to you.

13. Does receiving my CAS number mean that I will definitely get a visa?
No. Applicants must meet all the other requirements of the UK's immigration rules. You can find more information about this on the Home Office website. Please note that you will only be able to apply for your visa a maximum of three months before the date your course is due to start.

14. If my visa application is unsuccessful, can I use the same CAS number to re-apply?
No. If your visa application is unsuccessful, you will need a new CAS number to re-apply. Before a new CAS number can be assigned, you will need to notify the College’s Admissions team by emailing [email protected] An adviser will then let you know whether a new CAS number can be assigned. If a new CAS number is assigned, you should use this new number when you re-apply for a visa.

15. What are the legal implications of having a CAS number?
Once you have been allocated a CAS number, the College is required to report you to the Home Office if you break the terms and conditions of your visa. This requirement applies to all universities, not just the Royal College of Art. You can ensure that you comply with the terms and conditions of your student visa by doing the following:

  • Enrol for every year of your studies. If you are unable to enrol, you must inform the College so that we know where you are.
  • Keep good attendance at all teaching sessions. If you are in the UK on a student visa you must study full time.
  • Do not take a break from your studies unless this is absolutely necessary
  • Do not work more hours than permitted during term time. You can work full time during the vacation periods.
The College will notify the Home Office if:
  • You do not register
  • You are absent, without authorisation, from teaching sessions
  • You withdraw from your course
  • You take an authorised leave of absence
  • You change your course of study
  • We know that you have broken the terms and conditions of your visa
16. Where can I find information about other aspects of the visa application process?
Information about other aspects of the visa application process can be found on the Home Office website. Advice is available from the UKCISA website.


Student Support Office

+44 (0)20 7590 4140

[email protected]