Time Limits on UK study and academic progression

On 6th April 2012, The Home Office introduced limits as to how long a Tier 4 student is permitted to stay in the UK studying at various levels.

If you have previously studied in the UK with a Tier 4 visa there are additional factors you need to consider before submitting your Tier 4 visa application.

Courses below degree level

You are permitted to study courses below degree level in the UK using a Tier 4 visa for up to 2 years.

Courses at degree level and above

You are permitted to study courses at degree level and above using a Tier 4 visa for no more than 5 years unless:

  • You are studying an exempted subject
  • You are studying a masters degree after completing an undergraduate programme which was 4 or 5 years in length (in this case, you must complete all studies within 6 years)
  • You are studying a research programme, such as a PhD as long as:
    • It is your first research programme – in this instance there will be no time limit on your studies
    • If you have already completed a research degree using a Tier 4 visa, you must complete all of your studies (including previous courses) within 8 years (unless your previous course was a research Masters of less than 13 months)

How will UKVI calculate this cap?

UKVI will consider how much leave you have already received to study courses as a Tier 4 (General) or Tier 4 (Child) student or Pre-Tier 4 student at a Higher Education Level.  They will then add the expected leave that will be granted for the new course you wish to pursue if granted.  They will count time in months, with individual days rounded upwards or downward to the nearest month.  If you have two visas with overlapping periods, the overlapping period will not be double counted.

Academic Progression

Academic progression is an important part of the Tier 4 visa application, and it will dictate whether you can make your visa application in the UK.

If you make your Tier 4 visa application from inside the UK, your new period of studies must represent academic progression from your studies in the UK to date.  This means that:

  • You have successfully completed (i.e. achieved the award for) the most recent programme of study in the UK for which you were given a Tier 4 visa
  • Your new course is:
    • At a higher level than your previous programme, OR
    • Complementary study
      • This means it must be a specialisation of your previous studies, or a new programme which, combined with previous studies, will allow you to achieve your career goals

You do not need to show academic progression if:

  • You are making a Tier 4 application from outside the UK
  • You are applying to resit an exam or repeat a course, or you have previously resat an exam or repeated a course, and you need extra time to complete your programme
  • You are applying for more time to complete your PhD for which you were last granted a Tier 4 visa (including at a new sponsor)
  • You are applying to undertake a role as a Sabbatical Officer
  • You are applying under the Doctorate Extension Scheme

The University will assess whether you meet the academic progression requirements before they issue you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.