Protecting your visa

Protecting your Tier 4 status

Your Tier 4 visa has some immigration conditions attached to it, these are normally printed (in an abbreviated form) on your vignette or BRP but they can also appear in the letter that accompanies your visa. There are also requirements and obligations related to the Immigration rules, your studies and your Tier 4 sponsor. This section explains all of these, plus some general good practice on protecting your Tier 4 status.

Tier 4 (General) Student visa Conditions

Your Tier 4 (General) Student immigration permission will be subject to certain conditions. It is very important that you understand these conditions. Not following these conditions can have serious consequences for both your current Tier 4 visa and any future visas you may wish to apply for.

Studying in the UK

When you enter or re-enter the UK, you must intend to study full-time at the University of Birmingham as the University issued your CAS, and your visa sticker (vignette) or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) must have the Tier 4 sponsor licence number of the University of Birmingham i.e. T7N18X2X1

If you do not enrol, or if you fail to continue with your studies, we are obliged to report this to the Home Office. See our sponsor's duties to the Home Office for more information about the consequences of this.

Changing course at the University

If you have changed your mind about your current course, or you have completed your course and want to study a new course, it may be possible to do so at our institution.

As well as general academic considerations, the University will need to take the following into account:

  • Tier 4 requirements, e.g. academic progression and the time limits ('caps') on specific levels of study, which may prevent you changing course; and
  • Whether you have completed your original course or not.

And depending upon when you applied for your current Tier 4 visa there are differing restrictions affecting changing course at the same institution.

If you do change courses, we will inform the Home Office about this.

Read pages 72 -78 of the Home Office Tier 4 policy guidance, for instructions on whether you can change course at the same institution and, if so, how.

Please refer to our guidance on 5 year cap as this may apply to you.

Please contact the IST if you are considering changing courses.

Changing Institution

There is some limited flexibility to switch to a different Tier 4 sponsor, but you must apply for permission from the Home Office first. It is important that you take the necessary steps before you start your new course; failure to do so is a breach of your immigration conditions and may lead to the Home Office curtailing your current Tier 4 visa and/or refusing any future immigration applications that you make.

You must make a full Tier 4 immigration application before you start the new course.

If your new course is at an institution that has Tier 4 Sponsor status you can start the new course before you receive a decision from the Home Office. However, if your new college or university is a probationary sponsor, you cannot start the new course until the Home Office has given you new immigration permission to study at the new institution.

If you need to make a Tier 4 application, it is important that you meet all the requirements and can make the application before you move to the new institution. See making a Tier 4 (General) application in UK.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

If you were required to obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate as part of your Tier 4 application, then you must apply for a new ATAS certificate within 28 days if:

  • your course content or research proposal changes; and/or
  • your course completion date (as stated on your CAS) is postponed by more than three calendar months.

We recommend that you seek advice from ISAS in regards to applying for a new ATAS clearance certificate.

You can also find more information on the following link:

ATAS Certificate

Police Registration

The condition to register with the Police is given to people:

  • those who come to the UK for more than six months.

If you are required to register, the condition is likely to be printed on your 30-day vignette or if you have been granted a visa following an application made in the UK, on your biometric residence permit (BRP). Alternatively, in the rare instance that you completed a paper-based immigration application form (rather than an online one); the condition will be included in your letter from the Home Office and not on your visa.

There is a fee of £34 to register with the Police. When you register, you will receive a Police Registration Certificate.

When to Register

You must register within seven days of collecting your BRP. You can register with the Police before you have collected your BRP, but you should then check with the Police whether you will need to register again after collecting your BRP. However, check whether your college or university has made special arrangements with the local police which allow you to register with them outside of this seven-day period.

How to Register

You must make an appointment online in order to register with the Police. If you attend the Police station without an appointment you will not be seen.

In order to make an appointment please follow the website link below. You will need to set up an online account in order to book an appointment.

The full address and contact details for the local Police station can be found below.

Students in Birmingham must register with West Midlands Police:

Students at the Shakespeare Institute should register with Warwickshire Police.

Updating the Police Registration Certificate

After you have registered, you always need to update the police within seven days if you ever:

  • change your address
  • extend your Tier 4 visa
  • change college or university
  • renew your passport
  • get married
  • if any of the other details on your Police Registration Certificate change

Importance of Registration

If you fail to comply with a condition to register with the Police, or to notify them of changes, the Home Office can refuse future immigration applications or remove you from the UK. Additionally, you might be banned from returning to the UK for a certain period. Please contact the IST as soon as possible if you have failed to register with the Police or are unable to make an appointment.

If you have been given the Police registration condition but your nationality is not listed in Appendix 2 of the Immigration Rules, or if you have not been given the Police registration condition but your nationality is listed in Appendix 2 of the Immigration Rules and you have come to the UK for six months or more, then the Home Office has made an error. Please contact the IST as soon as possible.

Work conditions

Tier 4 students either have a work restriction or a work prohibition. For further information, see our working in the UK pages.

The immigration authorities treat work restrictions very seriously. They can refuse your immigration application, or remove you from the UK, if you work too many hours or if you do work which you are not allowed to do, and you might be banned from returning to the UK for a certain period.

'No recourse to public funds'

Your immigration conditions do not allow you to access 'public funds', which means certain specific welfare benefits and local authority housing.

See our information about public funds for a full list of what are public funds.

Using the National Health Service, sending your child to a state school, being exempt from the Council Tax, and paying "home" fees for study do not count as accessing 'public funds'.

If you apply for a welfare benefit that you do not qualify for, you will be breaking the conditions of your immigration permission. You may also have problems obtaining an immigration extension in the UK, or if you try to apply for entry clearance abroad (in many categories, not just as a Tier 4 student), you may be banned from coming back to the UK for at least 12 months (and in some cases, 5 or 10 years).


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