UK visa requirements

Tier 4 regulations

Information about specific Home Office regulations for Tier 4 Students, including academic progression and the time limit on Tier 4 study.

If you have previously studied in the UK and plan to apply for your new Tier 4 visa inside the UK you need to consider the following:

1) The Home Office requires that students are moving to a higher academic level when they want to study a further course on Tier 4 in the UK. This is referred to as academic progression in the Immigration Rules. For example, moving from a Bachelor Degree in Law to the BPC or LPC is considered academic progression. However, moving from a Master's Degree to the GDL is not considered to be academic progression, as the GDL is at Bachelor Degree level.

If you want to study a new course at the same level as your previous course, you can only exceptionally make your Tier 4 application within the UK if you meet these requirements:

  • Your new course is related to the previous course; and/or
  • Your previous course and new course combined support your genuine career aspirations.

If you want to study at a lower level than your previous course, you cannot apply from within the UK as this is not permitted by the Home Office. You must make your Tier 4 application from outside the UK in your country of nationality.

2) The rules on academic progression also state that you must have successfully completed (achieved the award) for your previous course. You must submit the award certificate or final transcript for your previous course with your visa application, otherwise it will be refused.

An exception to this rule is if your last course in the UK was a Master’s Degree and the only thing outstanding is your final dissertation or project. Before the University can issue you a CAS, you will need to provide us with a signed and stamped letter from your current institution including all of the following:

  • Your full name and student number;
  • A list of the modules you have completed so far and the grades;
  • The qualification you will be awarded and when the award will be made;
  • Confirmation that the only thing outstanding to complete your course is your final dissertation or project;
  • A statement that based on your progress to date, you are highly likely to successfully complete your course.

The University of Law will check that you have successfully completed your course after the date indicated on your letter. If you have not successfully completed your course, we will have to withdraw your Tier 4 sponsorship and subsequently deregister you from the University in line with Home Office regulations.

Please note that even if you apply outside the UK, you may be asked about any previous study in the UK, especially if you failed to complete a course on Tier 4 and/or want to study a new course which is at the same or lower level than your previous course. The Home Office can refuse an application if they believe a student does not have genuine reasons for wanting to study in the UK.

The University of Law will check whether you meet the requirements above. If the University decides you do not meet these rules and/or that your visa application will be unsuccessful, we will not issue you a CAS. This policy applies to students who are making their Tier 4 application from within and outside the UK.

The Home Office limits the amount of time a student can spend studying in the UK on Tier 4. If you are studying a course at degree level or above, you can spend a maximum of 5 years on Tier 4 in the UK.

This limit includes leave granted under a Tier 4 (General) visa or the old student visa which existed before Tier 4. It does not include leave granted on a Tier 4 (Child) visa or study on Tier 4 (General) if you were 16 or 17 years old.

The BPC, GDL and LPC do not count towards the 5 year limit, if you will be taking them as a new course at The University of Law. However, if you already studied the BPC, GDL and LPC elsewhere, they do count towards the limit. This applies whether you successfully completed the course or failed to complete it.

The Home Office calculates leave from the start date of a Tier 4 or old student visa to the end date. This is regardless of the actual course start date or end date. It also includes leave granted even when a student has subsequently left the UK before the end date on their visa. The Home Office will not take into account if a student left the UK earlier than their visa expiry date, even if the student has evidence to prove this.

The University of Law will check whether you have reached the limit on Tier 4 study before issuing a CAS. We cannot issue a CAS to any student who has exceeded this limit or if their course at the University would mean they exceed this limit, as their visa application will be automatically refused by the Home Office. Please email International Student Advice if you have any questions about your previous study in the UK - visacompliance@law.ac.uk