Time Limits

There is a time limit (or ‘cap’) on how long you can be in the UK on a Tier 4 visa. You must also show that the course you wish to study represents academic progression from any course you may have already studied in the UK. You must provide the University with details of any previous courses you have studied in the UK and under what visa categories.

Two year limit for below degree level

The time limit for any study undertaken below degree level (International Foundation Programme, HNDs) is two years.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, any time spent in the UK studying courses below degree level:

  • Whilst on the ‘old-style’ Student visa (pre-Tier 4)
  • As a Tier 4 (General) student when you were 16 or 17 years old
  • As a Tier 4 (Child) student when you were 17 or under
  • Under any other visa category that allows study

Five year limit for degree level

The time limit for any degree level study (Bachelor’s or Masters) in the UK is five years. This applies to any study that was undertaken whilst on a Tier 4 (General) visa or the ‘old-style’ Student visa that was in place before Tier 4.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, any time spent in the UK studying courses in the following subject areas will be exempt:

  • Architecture
  • Dentistry
  • Medicine
  • Veterinary Medicine and Science
  • Law, but only if you have completed a UK degree and your current Tier 4 application is to study a law conversion course, a Legal Practice Course or the Bar Professional Training Course

Any time spent studying a PhD/Research degree is also exempt from the time limit.

What if I need a visa extension and I am over the time limit?

If applying for a visa means you will be over the time limit then you will not be able to extend your visa under Tier 4. You will need to speak to an advisor with regards to your options.

What is academic progression?

Tier 4 students studying in the UK must show that their course represents progression from any previous course they have studied. For example, if you have completed a Bachelors degree (NQF level 6) you should then progress to a Masters degree (NQF level 7).

I already have a Masters degree from the UK. Can I study for another?

You can only study at the same level if there is a clear link between the two courses. In your application for the course you will need to explain why you are wanting to study again at the same level, how the courses complement each other and how they benefit your future plans. Our admissions officers will decide if the course can be considered progression.

Can I study at a lower level? 

No. If you have already studied at Masters level and wish to study a Bachelors degree this will not be possible under Tier 4.