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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 (i.e. the University) 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.

Changing your course

Your visa only permits you to change course or department 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 student visa policy'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 undergraduates 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.

Research students who are changing course, including MPhil to PhD, or PhD to MPhil should read the detailed guidance on changing your research degree. 

Changes to your research and ATAS clearance

Students on a time-limited visa 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 unless exempt due to their nationality. 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;
  • if you are changing Department, even if your research is the same;
  • before starting your PhD if you are on a 1+3 programme. 

Contact the International Student Office if you believe you need to apply for a new ATAS certificate. 

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 is approved by the EAMC (Examination Access and Mitigation Committee) for intermission or to 'disregard terms' is normally given intermission for a complete academic year or until the start of the next academic year. On approval of this deferral 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 EAMC, 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.

This visa implications are the same for undergraduate Engineering students who request to intermit to undertake a placement year approved by the Faculty Board. Further information is outlined on the Department's website. As this is considered a break from studies, and does not meet the industrial experience requirement part of the engineering degree, visa sponsorship would be withdrawn and, if the placement is in the UK, an alternative visa, such as a work visa, would be required. The placement provider would need to advise on this. A new student visa would need to be to be obtained prior to resuming study, and it would not be possible to apply for this visa inside the UK. 

The visa implications for taught postgraduate students are similar, although depending on the course, the intermission approval process may be administered either by EAMC/College or by Student Registry.

Postgraduate research students
For postgraduate research students, the implications of intermission, medical or non-medical, on a student 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 may be able to continue visa sponsorship providing the student can still complete their course within the validity of their existing visa and there have not been wider issues with academic engagement prior to the requested period of intermission. 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 within the duration of the visa. 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 duration of intermission approved because you have chosen to undertake activity unrelated to your course, such as but not limited to an internship or volunteering opportunity, participating in sporting events or studying a different course.

Discontinuing your studies and withdrawal from studies

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 their 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.

*In these circumstances, the University would be able support you in obtaining a new visa after you have submitted your thesis for examination and been reinstated as a student. The International Student Office can provide further guidance based on the individual circumstances at the relevant time. 



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. Contact the International Student Office at least three months ahead of your visa expiring for guidance on your individual circumstances. The University will need to issue you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to support the visa application. You will be required to apply prior to your current visa expiring if making the visa application in the UK and provide evidence of this to the International Student Office. You will also need to provide documentation for the new visa once granted.

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. 

A student studying an undergraduate or Masters course would not meet the Home Office's '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 normally 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, return to the UK under the Visitor 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. Skilled Worker visa, Settlement), or have another status that means you no longer require a student visa, you must notify your College of the change straight away 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 in 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

Your visa will have been issued on the basis that you are engaging with your studies either on a full-time or part-time basis. It is therefore not possible to switch mode and continue studying on the same visa. The Home Office views this is a change of course. 

Students who require student visa sponsorship will need to consider that the University will only sponsor a part-time student visa if the reason for studying part-time is owing to a disability and the student will be based for the majority of their study in Cambridge. Otherwise, part-time students will be based overseas, studying for the majority of time outside the UK, and coming to Cambridge for short periods of study for permitted activity across the year under the visitor immigration route. 

Using the visitor immigration route

Students are based overseas and come to Cambridge for short periods for certain activities across the year. Prospective students should ensure they are familiar with the restrictions of this immigration status as outlined on our short period of study page.

Part-time student visa

Students switching to part-time owing to a disability, and therefore eligible for student visa sponsorship, will need to consider the following:

  • Before beginning on the changed mode of study, a new student visa would need to obtained by making an application from outside the UK, in the country of nationality or residence. The Home Office does not allow for this application to be made inside the UK. Students will also need to apply for a new ATAS clearance certificate prior to making the visa application if applicable.
  • The Home Office does not provide a refund of the immigration health surcharge paid during the application process for the current visa, and this surcharge would need to be paid again for the new application. This is charged at £470 for each year that your new visa will be valid.
  • A part-time student visa is very restrictive – it does not permit work or allow dependant family members. 
Working away and study abroad

If you are an undergraduate student undertaking a period of study abroad as part of your course or a postgraduate student approved to 'work away' (such as for fieldwork or 'writing up'), it is normally possible for the University to continue sponsorship of your student visa as you will be continuing to engage with your studies during the permitted activity. 

Undertaking a work placement or internship

If you are a PhD student considering an internship during your course, you should ensure you understand the possible implications for your student visa.

A small numer of Masters courses include an internship, or the option of an internship, as an integral part of the course. The University must notify the Home Office of the work placement details. For more information, see working on a student visa.