Immigration consequences of study decisions

Changing courses or taking further degree courses

On 6 April 2012, UK Visa and Immigration introduced new rules which limit the total amount of time an international student can spend studying at degree level (NQF 6) in the UK.

The new rules prohibit students from studying for more than 5 years at degree level on a Tier 4 or a pre Tier 4 student visa. Students will not be allowed to complete further courses in the UK or to switch to a new course, if doing so would mean exceeding the cap.

If you are liaising with a student and you believe this may be a factor, you should refer the student to ISAS immediately.

Part-time study

If a student is current studying on a Tier 4 (General) Visa, then they can only study full time. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Students studying on other visa types may be permitted to study part-time.

If an international student is considering going part-time, you should refer them to ISAS so that we can ascertain the type of visa they hold and the implications of this for their intended mode of study.

Leave of Absence

A Leave of Absence is a formal process where students take a break from their studies. This can have very serious consequences for international students, since their permission to reside in the UK is based on the expectation that they will be studying.

Some of the adverse effects that a Leave of Absence could have on an international student are:

  • UK Visa and Immigration will normally curtail the student's visa when they are officially notified by the University of a break in studies. The student will be expected to return to their home country as soon as reasonably practical.
  • The student will normally need to apply for a new visa to resume their studies in the UK after their Leave of Absence.
  • The total amount of time that the student requires to complete a degree, taking a Leave of Absence into account, may go over the five-year cap recently implemented by the UK Border Agency.

If you are considering granting a leave of absence to any international student, you should refer them to ISAS so that we can conduct a full assessment of the impact the break will have on their immigration status.

students in a lecture