Tier 4 visa - Academic Progression and Time Limits
Find out how you can meet the academic progression requirement for a Tier 4 visa application from inside the UK.
Academic progression is an important part of your Tier 4 visa application, and will dictate whether you can make your visa application in the UK.
You cannot make your Tier 4 visa application from inside the UK unless your new course represents academic progression from your previous course in the UK.
What does academic progression mean?
You will be able to show academic progression if:
- You have successfully completed (i.e. achieved the award for) your most recent course of study in the UK for which you were given a Tier 4 visa; AND
- your new course is at a higher level than your previous course; OR
- complements your previous course. This means that your new course must be a specialisation of your previous studies, or a new course which, combined with your previous studies, will allow you to achieve your career goals
You do not need to show academic progression if:
- You are making your Tier 4 application from outside the UK
- You are applying to re-sit an exam or repeat a course, or you have previously resat an exam or repeated a course, and you need extra time to complete your course
- You wish to undertake a period of study abroad or a work placement, or you have already done so, and you need extra time to complete your course
- You are applying for more time to complete your PhD for which you were last granted a Tier 4 visa (including at a new sponsor)
- You are applying to undertake a role as a Sabbatical Officer
- You are applying under the Doctorate Extension Scheme
The University will assess whether you meet the academic progression requirements before we issue you with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
What are the time limits for a Tier 4 visa
There are limits on how long you are permitted to study in the UK on a Tier 4 visa at different levels.
Courses below degree level
You are permitted to study courses below degree level in the UK with a Tier 4 visa for up to two years.
Courses at degree level and above
You are permitted to study courses at degree level and above with a Tier 4 visa for up to 5 years UNLESS:
- You are studying an exempted subject (e.g. architecture)
- You are studying a master’s degree after completing an undergraduate course which was 4 or 5 years in length. In this case you must complete all your studies within 6 years
- You are studying a research programme, such as a PhD
o If it is your first research programme, there will be no time limit on your studies
o If you have already completed a research degree with a Tier 4 visa, you must complete all of your studies (including previous courses) within 8 years (unless your previous programme was a research masters degree of less than 13 months)
How will the time limit be calculated?
The time limit is linked to the duration of your Tier 4 visa rather than the duration of your course/s. The time will normally be calculated from the start date of your first Tier 4 visa, until four months after you expect to complete your new course (i.e. the expiry date of a new Tier 4 visa). Any time during which you did not hold a valid Tier 4 visa will be discounted.
You must be able to complete your new course within the limits unless:
- The time limits will prevent you from studying a fifth academic year of study. In this case you must be able to complete your new course within 5 years and 11 months, OR
- You have completed a 4 or 5-year undergraduate course, and wish to study a master’s degree, and the time limits would prevent you from studying a sixth academic year. In this case you must be able to complete your studies within 6 years and 11 months
We cannot accept you to study a course with us if you would exceed these time limits.