Academic Progression 

UK VISA & Immigration (UKVI) made changes to the academic progression rule for Tier 4 students in April 2016. This webpage includes important information for Tier 4 (General) visa holders who may be affected the changes.

It is particularly important if you:

  • are on a placement or considering going on placement in future
  • are considering transferring or required to transfer to another programme
  • are a Postgraduate students who have recently applied for, or intend to apply for an extension to the submission date for final dissertation
  • have or are due to sit or retake a module

The academic progression rule is in place to ensure that you are progressing academically if you wish to study a further course in the UK, and are not merely seeking to extend your stay in the UK. The Home Office require Tier 4 sponsors to include a statement in a student's Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) confirming that the student will be making academic progress on the course they have applied for, from any study previously undertaken in the UK.

To demonstrate academic progression, your new course must normally be above the level of the previous course for which you were given Tier 4 leave. For example, if your previous course was at Bachelor Degree level or equivalent your next course should be at least Masters or above. In order to demonstrate academic progression you must have successfully completed the previous course for which you were last granted Tier 4 leave. This means you must have achieved the qualification for which you were previously granted a Tier 4 visa.

Failure to evidence the academic progression requirement would result in a visa refusal.

Further Guidance

As a result of the changes, some students who need additional time on their visa may not be able to extend their visa in the UK and may need to leave the UK in order to make their Tier 4 (General) visa application. 

Please click on the appropriate section below for further guidance on your options for academic progression.


You do not need to show academic progression if you are:

  • You are a Tier 4 (Child) Student
  • You are making a Tier 4 (General) application from overseas
  • You are making a first application to complete an existing course commenced at a Tier 4 sponsor that had its licence revoked
  • You are applying to resit an examination or repeat a course module
  • You are applying to complete the PhD or other doctoral qualification for which you were last given Tier 4 or Student leave (including where you are completing the qualification at a new sponsor)
  • You are applying to complete the qualification for which you were last given Tier 4 or Student leave after a period as a student union sabbatical officer
  • You are applying under the doctorate extension scheme
  • You are applying as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised Foundation Programme
  • You are applying to extend your leave to remain in order to undertake a study abroad programme or work placement or you have previously completed a study abroad programme or work placement and require leave to remain to complete your course.

Students on Placement

If you are an Undergraduate or Postgraduate (Taught) student and will be undertaking a placement as part of your course, the academic progression rule may affect you. Please contact us so we can help you further.

Students Re-sitting

If you are a registered student and you are required to repeat or re-sit part of your course and this will require you to be in attendance, you may need extra time to complete you course.

To find out if you are exempt from Academic Progression rules, please contact us so we can help you further.

Extending Dissertation or Write up

If you have applied for an extension to complete your studies (i.e. to work on your dissertation) and you need to extend your visa, you will require extra time to complete your studies. Please contact us so we can assist you further.

Medical Students who have or are considering intercalating

Whether your intercalated degree is at the University of Birmingham or at another Tier 4 sponsor, as long as you have enough immigration permission to undertake the intercalation, you do not need to make a new Tier 4 application before you start the intercalation.

Students who intercalate with the same or a different sponsor are not required to make a fresh Tier 4 application in order to start the intercalated degree or to return to the original course.

The University of Birmingham will notify the Home Office about the change to your studies.

If you are intercalating at a different institution, that institution will be responsible for notifying the Home Office of any relevant changes during that period, until you return to Birmingham.

When you need to extend your stay to complete your studies, you can make this application in the UK.

You can choose to make this application before or after the intercalation.

Intercalating students satisfy academic progression requirements if they meet the following requirements.

 Applying to progress from:

i. a Bachelors to Masters level course as part of an integrated Masters course or

ii. a Masters to PhD level course as part of an integrated Masters and PhD programme or

iii. applying to pursue an intercalating year as part of medical, dental or veterinary science degree, or are returning to original course having completed an intercalated year.

Programme Transfers

If you are considering transferring, or have been required to transfer to another programme at the same, higher or lower academic level, you will need to contact us and we will help you further.

If you are considering or have been required to move to another programme, you may need to leave the UK and apply for a new Tier 4 (General) visa to enable you to complete your new course - unless the course is at the same level and you can complete it within the timeframe of your current visa.

You can also find more information on our page below:

Switching Course

Authorised Absence

In instances where you need to take a short break from your studies, the University may approve a period of Authorised Absence

Tier 4 Policy Guidance

More information about the specific rules imposed by the Home Office that relate to this communication can be found in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance (pages 20- 24, and 73- 77.

CAS Request

You should aim to make your Tier 4 visa application as early as possible, once you have gathered your supporting documents. The application process from outside the UK normally takes around 3 weeks. This UKVI website calculates visa processing times.

Some countries offer a priority application service which takes around 3-5 working days. Visit the Government's website to find a visa application centre.

If you do require further leave please be aware that there is a time limit on how long a person can spend studying in the UK whilst holding a Tier 4 (General) or Student visa. 


UKVI can change immigration rules or Tier 4 policy guidance at short notice.  We understand changes to the rules can be confusing, however the International Student Team (IST) is here to support you.  Please check our news and alerts page or contact us if you require any further help:

News and Alerts


Professional Services