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Extending your visa from inside the UK

This information is for you, if you have a current visa to study in the UK but you need to extend your leave in order to complete your programme of study at UCL. You will be submitting your visa application in the UK.

How long can I spend as a student in the UK?

There is a limit on the time a student may spend studying at degree level or above in the UK.

You are allowed to spend a maximum of 5 years studying in the UK using a student visa, this includes time spent on a Tier 4 Student Visa and old style student visas prior to Tier 4.

You should ensure that your intended programme of study and any previous programmes of study you have taken in the UK do not take you beyond the five year limit. If they do you will not be able to obtain a Tier 4 visa.

There are some exceptions to the 5 year limit. These are as follows:

  • If you have successfully completed a degree that is 4 years in duration the limit is 6 years. Please note this does not include additional years taken due to retaking years or re-submissions
  • If you are taking a PhD or postgraduate research qualification approved by the UKVI there is not a limit on the time you can spend studying
  • If you have previously completed a PhD and are applying for a further course of study your limit is 8 years
  • Some programmes are exempt including, including Architecture and Medicine
  • The Doctorate Extension Scheme is also exempt

Full information is available on the UK Visas and Immigration Rules point 245ZV h(a) and the Tier 4 Policy Guidance. You are required to refer to these sources in order to find out how this may affect you before you request a CAS number. If you need further guidance, you can contact the UCL Union (UCLU) Rights & Advice team.

Tier 4 Doctorate Extension scheme

From 6 April 2013, if you are completing a PhD or other doctorate level qualification at UCL, you will be able to apply to stay in the UK on a Tier 4 visa for 12 months after completing the qualification. This scheme is designed to allow full-time Tier 4 research students a longer period to gain practical work experience in their field.

You can find further information on the Working in the UK after your studies webpage.

What documents do I need to renew my student visa?

You need to apply for a visa extension using the Home Office online form to renew your existing Tier 4 visa. For instructions on how to do this, please follow this link to the UCLU advice on renewing your visa in the UK. 

You need to ensure you apply before your current leave expires. The date of application is the date you submit your online application form. If you apply in person at one of the UK Border Agency's Public Enquiry Offices (PEOs) then the date of application is the date of your appointment.

We advise that you submit your application twelve weeks before the expiry date of your current leave.

Supporting documentation

In addition to a completed Tier 4 (General) Student form you will need to provide the following supporting documentation:

Personal documents

  • Valid Passport/Travel document
  • Identity Card for Foreign Nationals (ICFN)
  • Two passport photographs - Your name should be written on the back. Do not staple the photographs to the application
  • Police registration certificate(s) if applicable.

It is very important that these are up-to-date otherwise you could be in breach of the immigration rules.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

Your CAS* is generated by the UCL Student Immigration Compliance Officer and supports your application to extend your current visa.

In order to be issued with a CAS, you will need to complete the CAS request form and send it to visacompliance@ucl.ac.uk. Please ensure the form has been approved by your Supervisor/Course tutor/Personal tutor before sending it. Once it has been processed, your CAS will be emailed to your UCL email account.

Please allow five working days to receive your CAS.

*A CAS is a unique 14 digit reference number, containing a mixture of letters and numbers that is given to you by UCL and confirms to UK Visas and Immigration that you are a genuine student. A CAS is valid for 6 months from the date it is issued.

ATAS certificate (if applicable)

You can find out if you are required to obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate by visiting our ATAS webpage.

You can apply for this certificate online and it usually takes up to 20 working days for it to be processed. You are therefore recommended to apply well in advance to ensure that it can be submitted with the application.

Evidence of maintenance funds

The Home Office will want to know that you have enough money to finance yourself and that you have direct access to this money.

In some circumstances, when you have previously studied in the UK, you may be able to qualify for the reduced maintenance levels due to your "established presence" in the UK. Then you will need to demonstrate that you have only two months' worth of maintenance available to you. To see if you have established presence studying in the UK, you can refer to Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

One month's maintenance in London = £1020.

You need to demonstrate that the maintenance funds have been held in the account for a minimum of 28 days and the evidence that you supply needs to be no more than one month old.

The money is required to be held in an account in either your name or a parent / legal guardian's name. If the money is held in your parent / legal guardian's account, then you will need to provide documentation that proves your relationship to them. You will also need to provide evidence that you have their permission to use this money.

The bank statements provided should be the original copy paper statements. If you have printouts from the bank, then these will need to be stamped by the bank on each page.

If you have any unpaid or due tuition costs then you will need to demonstrate that you have this money in addition to the maintenance funds.

Evidence of Scholarships (if applicable)

You will need a letter from the scholarship body confirming continued support. If your scholarship period has ended the scholarship body needs to provide a letter giving their consent to your continuing study in the UK.

The Home Office is obliged to issue visas according to the date given on the scholarship letter. Your scholarship body may be willing to state in the letter that they give their consent to your being in the UK up to four months after your programme ends. This will enable the Home Office to grant you the maximum amount of time that they can.

What are the fees for applying to extend a Tier 4 visa in the UK?

The fees for applying to extend a Tier 4 visa in the UK are:

Tier 4 postal application (main applicant) - £422
Tier 4 postal application (dependant) - £422

Tier 4 application in person (main applicant and all dependants) - £822 (this includes the £100 appointment fee, which may be retained if you fail to attend your appointment without good reason).

What application submission options are available to me?

You have three options as listed below (you will find the relevant addresses on the application form):

Postal Service

You can submit your application on-line and send the supporting documents to the Home Office yourself. They aim to have all visa applications processed within 8 weeks. It may take longer during busy periods, this is usually during late Summer and Autumn.

Application in person

You can go in person to one of UK Visas and Immigration's PEOs. Your application will be processed the same day, provided the application is complete and there are no complications you will receive your visa through the post within seven to ten days.

You will be able to book an appointment to go to one of the PEOs as part of the on-line application process. This is done at the end of the on-line application process when you pay and submit, you can not book an appointment before this.

You will only be able to apply in person if there is an available appointment slot on or before the expriy date of your current visa.

Batch Scheme

This is a scheme operated by UCLU Rights & Advice that gives you the opportunity to have your Tier 4 student visa renewal application checked by an experienced immigration adviser and then submitted the Home Office on your behalf.

You can contact UCLU Rights & Advice for further information and to book an appointment.

It is very important that you make your application before your visa expires or you may find yourself in trouble and without rights of appeal.

What happens after submission?

If you submitted the application yourself via the postal service, the Home Office will be in touch with you directly.

If you submitted your application via the Batch Scheme, the Home Office will correspond with UCLU Rights & Advice regarding your application.

Please do not contact UCLU Rights & Advice about your application until after eight weeks from the date of submission.

Page last modified on 20 feb 15 10:33