UK visa requirements

Student visa regulations

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

If you have previously studied in the UK and plan to apply for your new Student 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 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 Student visa 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 Student visa 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 most recent course in the UK. Our Visa Compliance Team may ask for evidence that you have completed your most recent course in the UK before we can issue you a CAS. This must be an award certificate or final transcript.

If your last course in the UK was a Master’s Degree and the only thing outstanding is your final dissertation or project, we can also accept an academic progression letter. 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 Student visa 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 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 Student visa application from within and outside the UK.

The Home Office limits the amount of time a student can spend studying in the UK on a Student visa. If you are studying a course at undergraduate level, you can spend a maximum of 5 years studying in the UK.

Please note that there is no time limit if you will be studying a postgraduate (Master's Degree) course in the UK. However, the Visa Compliance Team will not issue a CAS unless we are satisfied a student has sufficient reasons for studying another postgraduate course in the UK. This is due to the Home Office's academic progression rule which states there must be exceptional circumstances for studying a further course at the same academic level.

The time limit on study includes leave granted under a Student Route visa, the old Tier 4 (General) visa or the 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 Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) does not count towards the 5 year limit, if you will be taking it as a new course at The University of Law. However, if you already studied the GDL elsewhere, it does 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 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 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.

Some students can bring dependants with them to the UK. A dependant is any of the following under Home Office regulations:

  • Child
  • Spouse
  • Civil partner or unmarried partner
  • Fiancé or proposed civil partner

You are allowed to bring dependants to the UK if you are studying a course at RQF Level 7 or above and your course is 9 months or more in duration. Therefore, you can bring dependants if you will be studying any of the following:

  • Bar Practice Course
  • Legal Practice Course
  • Any of our Master’s Degree programmes, which are 9 months or longer

You cannot bring dependants if you are studying the Graduate Diploma in Law or any of our undergraduate programmes, as this is not permitted under Home Office regulations.

If you will be studying a course with us which does not allow you to bring dependants and you would like family members to visit you during your studies, they will need to come to the UK under the Visitor visa route. Please note that visitors can only stay in the UK for up to 6 months and they cannot study or work.

Please note that if you are bringing dependants to the UK, our Visa Compliance Team will check the financial evidence they will be submitting with their visa application before issuing you a CAS. This is because their visa application will be linked to yours. We cannot issue you a CAS until we are satisfied that your financial evidence and your dependants' fully meets the Home Office requirements.

For further guidance about bringing dependants to the UK, please refer to sections ST28.1 to ST39.3 of Appendix ST: Student of the Immigration Rules. If you still have any questions after reading this information, please email International Student Advice.