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If your circumstances change during your studies, the UK Home Office may need to be informed and there could be implications for your Tier 4 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 the University as your Tier 4 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.

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.
Changing your course or research

Changing your course if you applied for your current Tier 4 visa on or after 6 April 2016

Your Tier 4 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;
  • teh new course cam 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 stuided in the UK, you woudl still fulfil the Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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 course if you applied for your current Tier 4 visa before 6 April 2016

Different conditions apply depending on when exactly you applied for your current visa, so you should contact the International Student Office as early as possible for clarification and to discuss your options.

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 Graduate Admissions ATAS page to check whether your new course will require ATAS clearance.
Completing earlier than expected

If you complete your course earlier than stated on your CAS, the University is required to notify the Home Office of this change in your circumstances. The Home Office will subsequently curtail your Tier 4 visa to the usual post-study period you are entitled to after course completion. If you leave the UK after your visa has been curtailed, or are outside the UK at the time of curtailment action, you should not use your current Tier 4 visa to re-enter the UK. 

See also Finishing your studies for further information that may be relevant when you complete.

Working away and study abroad

If you are undertaking a period of study abroad as part of your course (for instance, through Erasmus+) or are approved to 'work away' (such as for fieldwork or 'writing up'), it is normally possible to retain your Tier 4 visa. The conditions of Tier 4 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).

If you are an undergraduate and your study abroad period results in a change to your course end date (i.e. your visa length is no longer sufficient) you will need to apply for a new Tier 4 visa overseas before returning to resume your studies in Cambridge.

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 Tier 4 visa.

Changing your mode of study

If a graduate research student wishes to change from full-time to part-time study, they need to apply to change mode of study.

If approved, the University can re-sponsor a student under Tier 4 to study part-time.

Prior to making an application to switch from full-time to part-time, students who require Tier 4 sponsorship should take the following into consideration:

  • A part-time Tier 4 visa does not permit any work, paid or unpaid.
  • On a part-time Tier 4 visa, you would not be eligible to bring dependant family members.
  • You cannot study part-time on your current Tier 4 visa as this is considered by the Home Office as a change of course. Before beginning part-time study you would need to obtain a part-time Tier 4 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 certicate prior to making the visa applicaiton 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 £300 for each year that your new visa will be valid.

 

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 Tier 4 to another visa category (e.g. Settlement, Tier 2), or are granted citizenship in a country that means you no longer require a Tier 4 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. 

Intermission (deferring your studies)

A deferral of studies or a period of intermission is likely to have serious implications for a Tier 4 visa.

Undergraduate and taught graduate 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 Tier 4 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.

Graduate research students
For graduate 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 Tier 4 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 sponsorship for a Tier 4 visa 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, Tier 4 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 Tier 4 sponsorship can be continued.

 

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 graduate student who does not submit their thesis for examination by the deadline; 
  • ​a research graduate 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 studen

 

 

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 Tier 4 visa in the UK. You will be required to make a new Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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 Tier 4 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.