Tier 4 time limits
Is there a time limit on studying with a Tier 4 Visa?
There is now a limit on how long a person can hold a Tier 4 visa. The limit depends on your level of study.
For courses below degree level, you cannot study in the UK on a course which leads to a qualification below degree-level for more than 3 years in total as a Tier 4 (General student). Limited exceptions apply to this.
For courses at degree level or above, any new Tier 4 application must not lead to you spending more than five years at this level. All the time you have spent in the UK under Tier 4 (or as a pre-Tier 4 student) counts towards the 5 years, except for the short extra time you are given before and after a course.
There are some exceptions to the 5-year limit:
- if you have successfully completed a UK degree course which was at least four years long, and your Tier 4 application is to study a Master’s degree at a higher education institution (recognised body or institution in receipt of public funding), the limit is six years.
- if your Tier 4 application is to study a PhD at a higher education institution, there is no limit while you are studying the PhD.
- if you have already completed a PhD, any new Tier 4 application is subject to an 8-year limit (including courses below degree level).
- courses in architecture, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and science, or music at a conservatoire, are exempt from the limit.
- if you have completed a UK degree, and your current Tier 4 application is to study certain legal qualifications (CPE, GDL/LPC or BPTC), the legal qualification is exempt from the limit
The UK Border Agency will not grant further leave to someone whose current Tier 4 application means they will exceed these limits, unless there are “compelling and compassionate circumstances”, such as injury or disability.
If you require further information, please visit the UKCISA website.