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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.

Changing your course or research

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

You can only 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 course can be completed within the existing validity of your current visa;
  • if you have previously studied in the UK, the new course fulfils Tier 4 academic progression requirements.

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.

If the new course is shorter than the original one, you must also inform the Home Office by e-mailing MigrantReporting@Home.Office.gsi.gov.uk.

If the course change does not fulfil the conditions outlined above for example it is at a lower level or your visa expires prior to the new course completion date, you will need to apply for a new visa for the new course from outside the UK. You will not be able to change courses until you have obtained the new visa. Tier 4 academic progression rules do not permit you to apply for a visa for the new course from inside the UK so you will need to return overseas to apply for this.

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.
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 and report the change in circumstances to the Home Office. The student’s visa will subsequently be curtailed to sixty days within which time the student must leave the UK. 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 sixty days, 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 the visa to sixty days within which time the student must leave the UK. 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 sixty 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 or injury, Tier 4 sponsorship can be continued for 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.
Withdrawing (discontinuing your studiies)

If you intend to discontinue your studies at Cambridge, you must inform your College/Department of the date when you will cease your studies and follow the formal application process to have this withdrawal from the University approved.

The University is required to report this change in circumstances to the Home Office. The Home Office will subsequently curtail your visa to 60 days within which time you will be required to leave the UK or apply for a new visa.

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 and are unable to complete within the validity of your visa, whether you can apply to extend your visa in the UK depends on your level of study:

  • A PhD student can extend their 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.
  • A student studying an undergraduate or Masters course would be required to apply for a new visa from outside the UK, in their country of residence, as they would not meet Tier 4 academic progression requirements. You will need to provide your new visa to your College for verifying and scanning to your student record upon your return.
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. 

Change of Tier 4 sponsor

If you wish to change to another education provider you must receive a CAS from that institution and make a new Tier 4 application before starting your studies with them. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to return to your home country to make this application. The University must 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 stated on your CAS, the University is required to report this to the Home Office. The Home Office will curtail your Tier 4 visa to the normal entitlement period following a course end date. If you leave the UK after your visa has been curtailed, you may not be permitted re-entry to the UK on your Tier 4 visa.

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

Changing your mode of study

Tier 4 is for full-time study so it is not possible to change from full-time to part-time and remain on a Tier 4 visa. As there is not a specific visa for part-time study, such a change is only possible in some circumstances.

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.