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International Students


If you already have a UK immigration status that permits you to undertake your course of study at Cambridge, you should inform the relevant admissions office in advance and you will be asked to provide evidence. Pending applications and permissions granted in expired passports may need to be verified with the Home Office.

If your current immigration permission is time-limited (even if it covers your course in full), the information on this webpage should be taken into consideration. This information is intended for students who will be studying a full-time course at Cambridge. If you will be studying a part-time course, information is outlined on our studying part-time webpage. 


You may wish to study with an alternative immigration status because it has more flexible work conditions than a student visa but your work options will still be limited owing to the University's working restrictions for full-time students. It is generally not possible to study on a visa that has been granted for the purpose of working for this reason.   

'Graduate visa' eligibility restrictions

It is only possible to apply for the post-study Graduate visa if you hold a student visa at the time of application and have successfully completed the degree course for which that visa has been granted. In addition, to meet the eligibility requirements you need to have studied on a student visa for at least 12 months of your course, or for the full duration of your course if it is 12 months or less. If you are considering applying for the Graduate visa on completion of your course, read the requirements carefully to determine whether it may be better for you to start your course on a student visa. 

Changes to your immigration status

It is your responsibility to determine whether your current immigration permission might change during your studies - for example , if you are no longer fulfilling the purpose for which the permission was granted or are unable to apply to extend under the same permission when it is due to expire. You will only be able to continue your studies as long as you have valid permission that permits study and you are required to provide the University with evidence of any new permission obtained during your course. 

Length of course

If your existing permission does not cover the length of your course, you will need to consider what you intend to do when it expires - e.g. will you be extending your permission in the same category, or do you intend to apply for a student visa during your course? You will need to provide evidence to the University of continued valid immigration permission that allows study, in accordance with the University's Home Office compliance requirements. 

Switching to a student visa at a later date

If you need to apply to switch to a student visa during your studies, contact the International Student Office at least three months before your current permission expires. The University will provide you with a CAS to confirm sponsorship and you may need to obtain a new ATAS certificate first, if applicable to your subject and nationality.

Check you are able to switch to a student visa inside the UK. You will need to consider the application processing times and arrange this around any overseas travel plans.

Familiarise yourself with the requirements for making a student visa application as early as possible.

Considering whether to apply for an alternative visa

If you are thinking about applying for an alternative immigration status which you would use for study purposes but are unsure whether to apply for this or a student visa, think about the immigration requirements of each immigration route and the primary purpose for which the permission would be granted, as well as your longer term plans.

Compliance requirements

If you are studying with immigration permission that is not a student visa, it is still necessary to:

  • Comply with the University of Cambridge's regulations on working and studying.
  • Obtain ATAS clearance before starting your course, if applicable. ATAS clearance is required for study purposes for those on time-limited visas, not just those on a student visa, and clearance will be a condition of your admission.
  • Provide your immigration documents before starting your course (passport; visa, Biometric Residence Permit or share code for a digital status; proof of application if you have a pending visa application; exemption documentation).
  • Notify your College of any changes to your immigration status or passport throughout your studies.
  • Ensure your UK contact details on your record are up-to-date at all times during your studies.


The University will need to approve whether or not an individual may study on an alternative immigration permission but some common examples include:

  • PBS Dependant
  • Spouse/Partner
  • T5 Youth Mobility
  • A status under the EU Settlement Scheme

The following examples are not acceptable for full-time study at Cambridge:

  • Tourist (Standard Visitor)
  • Tier 4/Student visa from your previous institution, but if you are eligible to apply for a new student visa in the UK, you can normally start your course based on providing evidence of a pending student visa application. 
  • Graduate visa*
  • High Potential Individual (HPI) visa*

*If you hold a Graduate visa or HPI visa, you must have received the new student visa before starting your course due to the study restrictions attached to this visa. You would not be able to start your course on the basis of a pending student visa application.  

Further advice

The International Student Office provides a visa advice service, offering guidance to applicants and current students on:

  • whether or not it is possible to study with specific alternative immigration permission or a pending immigration status;
  • considerations on studying on a specific alternative visa rather than a student visa;
  • switching to a student visa - detailed advice on the process and requirements, application and supporting document checking, CAS issuance, webinars.

The International Student Office cannot provide personalised immigration advice on applying for non-student related visas.