Student Immigration

All you need to know about VISAs and studying


Changing your Programme of Study

Please note:

Due to recent changes to the Immigration Rules, if you are currently studying on a Tier 4 visa, and wish to change courses, we recommend you seek immigration advice from the Kent Union Advice Centre in the first instance. The information below is based on the new Immigration Rules introduced in November 2018. Please note this information applies to students currently studying on a Tier 4 visa and wishing to change course after registration.

Post-registration course changes are based on the following principles, all of which are outlined in the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance and Tier 4 Policy Guidance:

  • Your current course and new course must be related or the two courses combined must support your genuine career aspirations,
  • The new course must be at degree level or above,
  • The new course must not be at a lower level than the course for which you currently hold Tier 4 visa,
  • You must be able to complete your new course within your current grant of leave.

If you do not meet the above conditions then it is most likely you will have to apply for a new Tier 4 visa from overseas to change and start a new course. Please read below for further information.

What you need to do if:

New course is at the same degree level but a shorter duration i.e. dropping Year Abroad

Where the new course is:

  • at the same level; and
  • of a shorter duration; for example, you originally held a Tier 4 visa for a 4 year degree programme, but you decided not to undertake a year in industry/year abroad so you will complete your degree in 3 years instead of 4

you do not need to make a new visa application to switch courses.

You will need to complete the Change of Course form and return to your School. The Student Immigration Compliance Team (SICT) will consider your request and if your request is approved, SICT will make a report to the Home Office which will trigger the eventual curtailment of the visa as an 'early completion' (ie. your visa will be shortened from 4 to 3 years in line with your new course end date).

Where you complete your degree earlier than the date originally provided on your CAS, your visa will be curtailed to 4 months from the new course end date (if the total duration of your course is more than 1 year). You will receive a curtailment notice from the Home Office which will outline the new end date of your visa. If you become aware that you have not been granted the additional 4 months in the curtailment notice, and you would like to have it corrected, you should contact the Kent Union Advice Centre.

Curtailment:

  1. You should be aware that the 4 month 'wrap up' period granted to you is intended to allow you to remain in the UK whilst you make the necessary arrangements to leave the country, or prepare to make an application to the Home Office to switch immigration categories/switch to a different sponsor.
  2. Curtailment takes immediate effect if you are outside the UK at the time of curtailment.

 

New course is at the same degree level and of the same length

Where the new course is:

  • at the same degree level;
  • related (or the two courses combined support your genuine career aspirations);
  • of the same length as the original course; and
  • due to complete within your current grant of leave;

you do not need to make a new visa application to switch courses.

You will need to complete the Change of Course form and return to School. SICT will consider your request, and if your request is approved, the SICT will report the change of course to UKVI. Since the completion date will not change, no further action is required.

Please note: If you wish to change to a completely different course, for example, a BEng to a BA in Fine Art, and you cannot demonostrate how these two courses are related or how this supports your genuine career aspirations, then you should seek immigration advice from the Kent Union Advice Centre.

New course is at the same or higher degree level and longer i.e adding Year in Industry

In all cases, if a student requires further leave to complete a course, they will need to make a new Tier 4 application. Students applying to extend their current Tier 4 leave will need to demonstrate that they meet academic progression requirements.

*The academic progression rule is in place to ensure that students are progressing academically if they wish to study a further course in the UK, and are not merely seeking to extend their stay in the UK. The rule only applies to students who have previously been granted leave as a Tier 4 (General) Student and are applying for leave to remain.

If your course change request does not meet academic progression, and none of the academic progression exemptions apply to you, you will need to submit your Tier 4 application from outside the UK. The exemptions are listed in paragraph 56 of the Policy Guidance.

Please note that you should seek immigration advice from the Kent Union Advice Centre if you are not sure.

New course is at a lower level i.e. switching from an integrated masters course (eg. MChem) to a BSc

Moving to a lower level course may happen, for example, when you have chosen to/or are required to downgrade courses.

If you applied for your Tier 4 visa before 6 April 2016, and following your change of course you will be able to complete the new course within the validity of your current visa, you do not need to make a new visa application. The University will report your change of course to UKVI and no further action is required.

If you applied for your Tier 4 visa on or after 6 April 2016, and will be switching to a course at a lower level, then you will need to make a new visa application from outside the UK in order to study the new course at a lower level.

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Last Updated: 15/11/2018