Extending your Tier 4 visa

You can extend your Tier 4 student visa if you need more time to complete your studies or if you start a new programme.

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Changes due to Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

Distance learning 

Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, existing students on a Tier 4 visa, who are in the UK or have chosen to return overseas and wish to continue their current studies, can undertake distance/remote studies for the remainder of their course in the academic year 2020/21, providing this has also been agreed with the academic department.

New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but wish to commence a course by distance learning (subject to academic department’s approval) are also permitted to do so. Goldsmiths is able to provide Tier 4 sponsorship to students who start studying through distance or blended learning in the 2020-2021 academic year provided they intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as circumstances allow.

If a student stops engaging with their distance learning, whether overseas or in the UK, then Goldsmiths is required to withdraw sponsorship immediately.

Absences

Goldsmiths University will not need to report student absences related to Covid-19. This can include absences due to illness, their need to isolate or inability to travel due to travel restrictions. However, Goldsmiths must maintain records of students who are absent for this reason. Also, Goldsmiths does not need to withdraw Tier 4 sponsorship if a student is unable to attend for more than 60 days due to Covid-19 but intends to resume their studies. However, if a student has permanently withdrawn from their studies, or deferred (interrupted) their studies for reasons unrelated to Covid-19, Goldsmiths would be required to report this to the Home Office as normal.

Extending a Tier 4 visa  

Students’ whose leave will expire between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, who would otherwise be unable to extend inside the UK, will be able to exceptionally apply for further leave within the UK.

To be eligible to apply for a visa extension to complete an existing course, or to begin a new course, students must still meet all other requirements of Tier 4, including academic progression and maintenance (living costs) requirements.  This means that students unable to complete their current course of study within the time-frame on their existing visa due to Covid-19, will be able to apply in-country to complete that course and the Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) will make this assessment on a case by case basis. Students who need to repeat a year, retake a module, or resit an exam are exempt from demonstrating academic progression as would normally be the case for those applying in the UK.

To apply for a new Tier 4 visa to commence on a new course in the academic year 2020/21, students will be able to apply for a new visa from inside the UK, providing that their current Tier 4 visa expires before 31 July and the new course start date is on or before 01 October 2020. This concession applies both to students who already hold Tier 4 leave and where the student is applying to switch into Tier 4 from another immigration route under the exceptional switching concession.

Study Time limits 

The maximum length of time that a Tier 4 (General) student can be granted leave as a student for will remain the same, which stands at 5 years for degree-level study (RQF Level 6 & 7).  However, discretion may be applied by UKVI in future where any period of leave that would cause someone to exceed the limit will do so as a result of Covid-19. 

If you already have a Tier 4 student visa, or have recently had a Tier 4 student visa, you can extend it in the following circumstances providing you have made satisfactory academic progress, and been attending classes consistently:

Moving from one course to another

If you have just finished or are due to finish a course in the UK, with Goldsmiths or another university and you are going to study another course in the UK (subject to the requirements for academic progression and the cap on previous study in the UK) you can extend your Tier 4 visa.

If you currently hold a Tier 4 student visa, you can only apply to extend that from within the UK if your new course starts within 28 days of the expiry of your current visa. However, because of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the Home Office have made a concession whereby a student who has a visa expiry between 24

January 2020 – 31 July 2020 can exceptionally apply from inside the UK to extend their Tier 4 visa for the new course, providing the new course start date is no later than 1st October 2020.

This concession applies both to students who already hold Tier 4 leave and where the student is applying to switch into Tier 4 from another immigration route under the exceptional switching concession that is currently in place until 31 July 2020. The visa application will need to be submitted by 31 July 2020, once the condition of your offer and immigration requirements have been satisfied.

We are unable to advise at this stage if the Home Office will extend the concession beyond 31 July 2020 but we will update our webpages with any further information that gets announced.

You can of course also apply for the Tier 4 visa from overseas and a CAS will be issued to you once a full assessment of your eligibility to apply for a Tier 4 visa has been assessed, once you have submitted your CAS request form.

Prospective students of Goldsmiths can also refer to our applicants’ webpage for further information.

Repeating your course ‘in attendance’

If you are required to repeat your course ‘in attendance’ with Goldsmiths, for example, you may have failed some or all of your studies and been told by assessments you need to repeat ‘in attendance’, then it may be possible to extend your Tier 4 visa to continue your studies.

Students who are unable to complete their current course of study before their current visa expires due to Covid-19 will be eligible to apply to extend their Tier 4 visa from inside the UK, to complete that course.

The IAS will still need to make a full assessment of your case prior to issuing a CAS and supporting a visa extension.

You can request a new CAS using our online form and this will then be sent automatically to the Immigration Advisory Service, and a member of our team will contact you to discuss your request and make an assessment of your case.

PhD students requesting additional time

If you are unable to complete your PhD within the time limit of your current visa, you should request a new CAS around 3-4 months before your current visa expires.

The Immigration Advisory Service will then speak to your supervisor and the relevant departments to carry out a series of checks, such as your academic progress to date and your attendance/engagement on the course.

If we are unable to support a Tier 4 visa extension for your new submission date or for your Viva, then you would be advised to leave the UK and return on a Short-Term Study Visa.

You cannot extend your visa in the following circumstances:

How to apply to extend your visa

Within the UK

You must meet the Tier 4 visa requirements and apply before your current visa expires. The Immigration Advisory Service will help you make your application, so you don’t need to worry.

Steps for applying within the UK

  1. Request a new CAS around 3 months before your visa expires, or as soon as possible if your visa is about to expire
  2. We will then contact your academic department to request details of your academic progress and attendance records
  3. If you are eligible to extend your visa, we will request financial documents from you so that we can ensure you meet the Tier visa requirements
  4. We will invite you to attend an appointment with us to submit your visa extension application

See our Extending your Tier 4 visa guide for more information about the extension process.

Documents needed to extend your visa inside the UK

We will help you apply for your visa inside the UK. You will need to make an appointment with us and bring the following documents:

  • Your bank statements meeting the Tier 4 financial requirements
  • Any academic qualifications – we will tell you what qualifications you need to bring to your appointment
  • Your current passport
  • Your current visa / BRP
  • National Insurance number if you have one
  • Your police registration certificate (if you were required to register with the police) and it should be up to date with your latest UK address
  • And any other documents requested by us

Attending an appointment at a visa application centre

As part of the process of applying for your visa from inside the UK, all applicants are required to attend a visa appointment to enrol their biometrics and present original documents for the third-party company (Sopra Steria) to take scans of and send them off to the Home Office.

You will be allowed to retain the original of your passport but you still cannot travel outside of the UK whilst your visa application is pending.

Due to Covid-19, many of the visa centres in the UK have been closed but they are gradually beginning to re-open with a limited number of appointments being made available each day.

You do not need to worry if you cannot attend an appointment before your visa expires or even shortly after, because as long as your visa application is submitted before the current visa expires, you are covered by what is called ‘3C leave’.

The Home Office is aware of the delays being experienced by many people and aims to allow sufficient time for applicants to be able to attend an appointment.

The processing time for an in-country Tier 4 visa is usually around 8 weeks, but of course, this is currently taking considerably longer due to the global pandemic. You will, unfortunately, need to remain in the UK until the outcome and have obtained your new visa.

Outside of the UK

You will need to apply for your extension in your home country or the country where you are usually resident.

Steps for applying outside of the UK

  1. Request a new CAS around 3 months before your visa expires, or as soon as possible if your visa is about to expire. We can only issue the CAS once we have confirmed you are outside of the UK and met the Tier 4 visa requirements. We usually ask to see a copy of your boarding pass, flight tickets or a stamp in your passport
  2. We contact your academic department to request details of your academic progress and attendance records
  3. If you are eligible to extend your visa, we will request financial documents from you so that we can ensure you meet the Tier visa requirements
  4. We will issue your CAS and you can apply for your visa in your home country

Returning from an interruption

If you are returning to Goldsmiths, we recommend that you request a CAS around 3 months before your return date.

This will allow us to check your supporting documents by email, including your bank statements, and means you should have time to apply for your visa in your home country. We will also need to check your previous attendance history.

You should check the visa processing times in your country and if you have concerns, request your CAS a little sooner.