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The term 'student visa' on this page refers to immigration permission issued under both Tier 4 and the Student route. Tier 4 was replaced by the Student route on 5 October 2020.

If your circumstances change during your studies, the UK Home Office may need to be informed and there could be implications for your student visa. Some changes must be reported by you and will not affect your visa - for instance, a change of address. Other changes, such as early completion and or change of course, must be reported by your visa sponsor and may result in visa curtailment. The International Student Office is responsible for submitting reports to the Home Office.

When the University submits a report to the Home Office that may affect your immigration status, the International Student Office will notify you by e-mail.

If your nationality requires you to register with the police, certain changes may mean that you also need to update your police registration certificate.

Changing your course or research

Changing your course if you applied for your current student visa on or after 6 April 2016

Your visa only permits you to change course if you fulfil all of the following requirements: 

  • the new course is at the same or a higher level as the course for which your visa was granted;
  • the new course can be completed within the existing validity of your current visa, unless you are progressing from a Bachelors to a Masters as part of an integrated programme; 
  • if you have previously studied in the UK, you would still fulfil the Home Office's academic progression requirements on the new course if you had originally applied for the new course instead of your current course.

If the University approves a change of course, and the new course meets the conditions outlined above, this will be reported to the Home Office. Students who have been issued a visa for a Bachelors only and are progressing to an integrated Masters will be required to apply for a new student visa in the summer of their third year. 

If your new course is at a lower level or your visa will expire prior to the new course completion date, you will normally need to apply for a new visa for the new course from outside the UK in accordance with the Home Office's academic progression rules. You will not be able to start your new course until you have returned on the new visa. There is an exception for students who are applying to extend their visa to progress from a Bachelors to a Masters as part of an integrated programme and they will be able to apply for the new visa inside the UK.

Changing your research and ATAS clearance

Students undertaking a PhD-level research degree, Masters course or four year undergraduate degree in certain science and technology subjects require an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance certificate.
You would have been informed if you had to apply for an ATAS certificate for your course prior to applying for your visa. You are required to apply for a new certificate:

  • if there are any changes to the course content or research proposal. Changes are those other than minor changes to the areas of research or the use of any new research technique;
  • if your course end date is postponed by more than 3 calendar months;
  • if you wish to start a new course that requires ATAS clearance. Use the Postgraduate Admissions ATAS page to check whether your new course will require ATAS clearance.
Intermission (deferring your studies)

A deferral of studies or a period of intermission is likely to have serious implications for a student visa.

Undergraduate and taught postgraduate students
An undergraduate student who makes a successful application to the Applications Committee for a deferral in study is normally given leave for a complete academic year. On approval of this deferral (disregarding of terms) the University is required to cease visa sponsorship by notifying the Home Office of this change in circumstances. The Home Office will subsequently curtail the visa to 60 days. Once return to study has been approved by the Applications Committee, the University is able to issue the student with a new CAS in order to make a fresh visa application from overseas to cover the remainder of the course.

Postgraduate research students
For postgraduate research students, the implications of intermission, medical or non-medical, on a Tier 4 visa will depend on the length of time the intermission has been approved for:

  • If an intermission is granted for more than 60 days, the University is required to cease visa sponsorship and notify the Home Office of this change in circumstances. The Home Office will subsequently curtail the visa to 60 days. The University will be able to re-sponsor and issue a new CAS to support a fresh visa application to return to studies at the end of the intermission period, subject to approval of return if required.
  • For a period of intermission of up to 60 days, the University is able to continue visa sponsorship providing the student can still complete their course within the validity of their existing visa. If the sponsored student does not return to studies after this intermission, the University is required to cease sponsorship in line with the above.
  • In exceptional circumstances, such as serious illness, injury or maternity / paternity leave, visa sponsorship can be continued during a period of intermission providing the student can still complete their course within their existing visa expiry. The maximum period of continued sponsorship would be four months. The University would determine if circumstances are considered to be exceptional as this extended sponsorship during a period of intermission must be justified. Any previous intermission will be taken into account when considering whether visa sponsorship can be continued.

Visa sponsorship cannot be continued for any period of intermission approved for the purpose of either an internship or to study a course, regardless of the duration.

Discontinuing your studies and 'removal from the register'

If you cease to be a student because your studies at Cambridge are discontinued temporarily or permanently, the University is required to notify the Home Office of this change in circumstances. Examples include: 

  • a student who withdraws from their studies; 
  • a student who is withdrawn by the University;
  • ​a research postgraduate student who does not submit their thesis for examination by the deadline; 
  • ​a research postgraduate student who exits with a lower level award. 

The Home Office will subsequently curtail your visa to 60 days from the date action is taken, within which time you will be required to leave the UK or apply for a new visa.

This also applies if you are removed from the register, for instance as a result of not submitting your thesis. In these circumstances, the University would be able support you in obtaining a new visa after you have submitted and been reinstated as a student.



Additional time required

The University expects you to complete your course according to the date provided in your CAS. If you are approved to have more time to complete your studies, you should be aware of the following implications for your visa:

PhD students

If you have been approved to have more time to complete your studies and your current visa does not cover this additional period, you can extend your student visa in the UK. You will be required to make a new student visa application prior to your current visa expiring. Contact the International Student Office at least three months ahead of your visa expiring. You will need to provide evidence - in the form of the application coversheet / postal receipt or UKVI biometrics invitation letter - that you have submitted your new visa application. This should be provided to your College and you will need to keep them updated with the progress of the application.

Undergraduate and Masters students

If there is more than 60 days (excluding recognised vacations) before you are required to participate in the next academic period, the University is required to cease visa sponsorship and report the change of circumstances to the Home Office. The Home Office will subsequently curtail your visa to sixty days within which time you will be required to leave the UK or apply for a new visa. As you will have stopped your studies prior to completion of your course, you will no longer be entitled to work on your current student visa.

A student studying an undergraduate or Masters course would not meet Tier 4 academic progression requirements to be able to extend their visa in the UK. If your current visa does not cover the additional time required to complete your studies, you will either need to apply for a new student visa from overseas to resume studies or, if you will be returning to re-take part of your course or re-sit examinations following an examination allowance and the period is less than 6 months, come under the Short-term study route.




Change of immigration documents or status

If you obtain any new passport, visa or BRP during your studies, you must present these documents to your College for scanning straight away.

If you switch from a student visa to another visa category (e.g. Settlement, Tier 2), or have another status that means you no longer require a student visa, you must notify your College within seven working days of the change and present them with documentary evidence (normally your new passport or visa/BRP). The University is required to report this change to the Home Office. 

Changes you must report to the Home Office (personal details)

You should update the Home Office of a change in address by using an online form.

If you have a BRP you are required to apply for a new BRP in the following circumstances:

    Change of name, e.g. if you have got married
    Change of nationality
    Change of gender
    Change of appearance

If you have a visa vignette in your passport, you will need to update the Home Office on these changes using the change of circumstances form.

Whether you have a BRP or visa in your passport, you are required to report the following changes to the Home Office using the change of circumstances form.

    Criminal convictions
    Passport number
    Dependants’ details, for example if the relationship breaks down.

Completing earlier than expected

If you complete your course earlier than originally stated on your CAS, the University is required to report this to the Home Office. Subsequently your student visa may be curtailed to the standard post-study period you are entitled to following the end of your course. If you leave the UK after your visa has been curtailed, or are already outside the UK at the time of curtailment, you should not re-enter the UK on your current student visa.

See also Finishing your studies for further information.

Changing your mode of study

A student visa is issued for either full-time or part-time study. If a postgraduate research student wishes to change from full-time to part-time study, or vice-versa, they need to follow University procedures and apply to change mode of study.

If approved, the University can re-sponsor a student visa for the changed mode of study and the student will need to make a new visa application from overseas. 

Prior to making an application to switch mode of study, students who require Tier 4 sponsorship should take the following into consideration:

  • You cannot study a different mode of study on your current student visa as this is considered by the Home Office as a change of course. Before beginning on the changed mode of study you would need to obtain a new student visa by making a new application from outside the UK, in your country of nationality or where you have permission to live. The Home Office does not allow for this application to be made inside the UK. You will also need to apply for a new ATAS clearance certificate prior to making the visa application if applicable. 
  • You will not be eligible for a refund of the immigration health surcharge you paid during the application process for your current visa. You will need to pay the immigration health surcharge again for the new application. This is charged at £470 for each year that your new visa will be valid

​Students who will be switching from full-time to part-time should also take the following into consideration: 

  • On a part-time student visa, you would not be eligible to bring dependant family members. 
  • ​A part-time student visa does not permit any work, paid or unpaid.



Working away and study abroad

If you are undertaking a period of study abroad as approved part of your course or are approved to 'work away' (such as for fieldwork or 'writing up'), it is normally possible to retain your student visa. The conditions of visa sponsorship will continue to apply, and you must continue to 'make contact' with your College as normal (if you are overseas you may do this by email but if you are inside the UK, you must attend in person).

Undertaking a work placement or internship

If your course includes a work placement in the UK, the University must notify the Home Office of your change in location. For more information about work placements and internships while at Cambridge, see working on a student visa.