Extending your Student Visa in the UK
The following guidance has been written in line with current UKVI* guidance and is designed to help you understand the process of extending your Student visa inside the UK in three clear steps. You are advised to start preparing for your application at least three months before your current visa expiry date.
*UKVI is UK Visas & Immigration. This is the UK government department responsible for visas and immigration. You will submit your application to UKVI. Your application will be assessed by a UKVI caseworker and UKVI will decide if your visa application is successful.
Step 1: preparing for your Student visa application
Who can apply?
You may need to extend your Student visa in the UK if:
- you are progressing to a new course of study;
- you are continuing your current course of study and need more time to complete your course;
- you wish to work as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer or as a doctor or dentist in training.
This is called making a 'Permission to Stay' application.
You may be able to switch to a Student visa if you already have permission to be in the UK in a different immigration category.
If you are in the UK on a Short-Term Study visa or Standard Visitor visa, you will not be permitted to make a Student visa application in the UK.
You can only extend or switch to a Student visa in the UK if you meet certain eligibility requirements under the UK Immigration Rules:
- You must have an unconditional offer of study on a full-time course which leads to a recognised UK qualification.
- If you are starting a new course, the start date of your new course must not be more that 28 days after the expiry date of your current visa. If this date is later, you will have to return home to apply for your Student visa overseas.
- You must be in a position to submit your visa application before your current visa expires.
- If you have ever studied before in the UK, you must provide ISS with additional information about your immigration history and you must be able to meet the UKVI academic progression rules.
- You must not exceed the time limit “caps” on how long you can study in the UK on a Student/Tier 4 visa. You can find more information about this under the section ‘Maximum period of study requirement’ in Appendix Student of the Immigration Rules.
- You must meet the English language requirements. The University will assess your English and the level of English you must have, which is subject to minimum levels set by UKVI. Your CAS statement will confirm how you have met the English language requirement.
- You must meet the financial requirements of the Student visa route. You can find more information about this under the "money you need" section below.
- You must be able to meet all of the Student Visa documentary requirements.
If you wish to make a Student visa application in the UK to study at Queen’s University, please contact the Immigration Advice team at email@example.com for assistance.
- Academic Progression
Under UK Immigration Rules, you can only apply to extend your Student visa in the UK if you can show you are 'academically progressing'. This means that you can normally only extend your visa in the UK where you have successfully completed your previous course of study and your new course of study is at a higher level than your previous course. If you do not meet the academic progression requirement, you will need to return to your home country to apply for your Student visa.
There are a number of exemptions to this requirement. If any of the below circumstances apply to you, you would be permitted to extend your Student visa in the UK provided all other requirements are met:
- you are applying to re-sit exams or repeat modules;
- you have previously re-sat exams or repeated modules and require more time to complete your course;
- you are applying to complete your PhD or other doctoral qualification;
- you are applying to undertake a role as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer, or to complete the course for which you were last given a Student/Tier 4 visa after a period as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer;
- you are applying as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised Foundation Programme;
- you are applying to undertake a study abroad programme or work placement or you have previously completed a study abroad programme or work placement and require more time to complete your course.
- you are applying to undertake an intercalated Bachelor’s or Master’s degree course or PhD, or you are applying to complete your main course having previously completed a period of intercalation.
If you are unsure if you meet the academic progression requirement, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and an ISS Immigration Adviser will advise you.
- When can you apply?
The earliest you can apply for your visa is three months before the course start date on your CAS.
You must submit your online application for your new Student visa before your current visa expires. If you do not think that you will be able to apply to extend your visa before your current visa expires you should contact email@example.com as soon as possible for further immigration advice. If your visa has already expired, Queen's University Belfast will not be able to support your application to stay in the UK and this will have implications on your study.
- What do you need to have in place before you can apply?
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
When you apply for a Student visa you must have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number. This unique 14-digit reference number confirms that Queen’s University has agreed to be your Student sponsor. Queen’s University will provide you with a CAS number once you have satisfied all of the eligibility conditions.
If you are already a student at Queen’s University, you must complete a Queen’s University CAS Request Form, which you can request from International Student Support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before the University can give you a CAS, ISS will check the information provided with your School to confirm that you are permitted to continue on your course.
If you are eligible, you will receive a CAS statement, which is an electronic document containing essential information you will need to fill in your Student visa application, including:
- Your unique CAS number;
- The University’s Sponsor Licence number
- Your course title, course level and course start/end dates
- Details of your course fees and any deposits paid or any scholarships or stipends awarded
- Details of your entry qualifications (‘evidence used to obtain offer’ section of CAS) which were used to make the decision to offer you a place or confirmation that you are continuing on the same course of study
- Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS): some courses will require you to have an ATAS certificate. Your CAS will state if this is a requirement for your course. You must have this before you can apply for your visa therefore you should apply for your ATAS certificate as soon as possible.
Documents which meet the UKVI requirements
Our guidance document Preparing documents for your Student visa application provides details of all the documents you will need to prepare. Some documents will be mandatory which means that you must submit them to UKVI as part of your application. Some documents will not be mandatory, which means that you should not submit them to UKVI. However, non-mandatory documents may be requested at a later date by UKVI, therefore you need to make sure that can provide these documents if necessary. Some documents will not be applicable to you.
Money you will need
In the UK for 12 months or more
If you have been living in the UK with valid immigration permission for at least 12 months or more on the date of your application, you will meet the UKVI financial requirement and therefore you will not need to show funds.
In the UK for less than 12 months
If you have been living in the UK with a valid immigration permission for less than 12 months, you will need to meet the UKVI financial requirement and you will need to show that you have this money before submitting your visa application.
You must have enough money to pay for your tuition fees for one academic year. These tuition fees will be stated on your CAS statement.
You will also be required to show you have enough money for living costs (maintenance funds).
If you are self-funded, this means that you will need to save a certain amount of money in your bank account for at least 28 days. You must be able to provide financial evidence to demonstrate that you have saved this money, for example, a personal bank statement or bank letter in your name or in the name of a parent. If you are receiving money from an official financial sponsor, you must be able to provide an official financial sponsorship letter.
Our guidance document Preparing documents for your Student visa application provides more details about the amount of funds you will need to prepare and the type of financial documents that are acceptable.
Differential evidence requirement
Our guidance document includes information for nationals of certain countries who are subject to different documentary requirements and therefore do not have to submit evidence of finances or academic qualifications. UKVI calls this the Differential evidence requirement. However, even if you benefit from this special arrangement, you must still ensure that you have these documents in place at the point of applying for your visa. If you cannot provide proof if requested, your visa application may be refused.
Do you need to take a Tuberculosis (TB) medical test?
If you are applying for your Student visa in the UK, a TB test is not required.
- Do you need an ATAS Certificate?
Students from certain countries who will be studying a postgraduate course in particular science, engineering or technology disciplines may need to obtain an ATAS certificate before applying to extend their Student visa.
You can find more information about the ATAS requirement here.
- Do you have dependants (family members) who will also need to apply?
If you are studying in the UK at Queen’s University Belfast as a postgraduate student for more than nine months or as a government sponsored student for more than six months, you will usually be eligible to bring your spouse/partner and any child under 18 to the UK as your dependants using the Student Dependant Visa route.
If you have dependants already with you in the UK, they can apply to extend their UK immigration permission at the same time as you.
- What assistance can ISS provide in preparing for your application?
International Student Support can provide you with specialist advice and assistance with your Student visa application. We are the only staff in the University qualified to answer your visa questions accurately.
We are here to support you from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, with online resources available 24 hours a day. If you have any questions about preparing for your application or you need clarification about anything in our guidance documents, you can email us at email@example.com and we will be happy to help.
Read our guidance document Preparing documents for your Student visa application carefully before continuing to the next step of the process. If you are not able to provide the required documentation, or if your documentation is not acceptable, this is likely to lead to a visa refusal. Our guidance has been carefully checked at the time of publication, however UK immigration guidance is constantly evolving and updating. It is your responsibility to ensure that your visa application complies with current UK Immigration legislation.
Further guidance on preparing for your application:
Step 2: submitting your online application
How do you apply and what assistance can ISS provide?
Before you submit your Student visa application, International Student Support will assist you with the following steps:
1. Your Immigration Adviser will check your supporting documents to ensure they meet the requirements of the Student visa route
2. Once your documents have been checked, ISS will email your CAS Statement to you along with guidance to complete your online Student visa application form
3. You will then complete your visa application form in draft. Once you have completed your draft application form, your Immigration Adviser will check your application form for you. Please do not submit and pay for your visa application until it has been checked by and Immigration adviser.
You can access the link to the online application form and read more information at the UK government website.
- What will happen when you have completed the Student Visa Application form?
At the end of the form, in order to submit the application, you will be required to pay the visa application fee and IHS fee online (by credit or debit card). For more information about these fees see the ‘How much does it cost to apply?’ section.
If you have submitted your application through the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app you will receive an email to confirm your application has been submitted.
If you are required to attend an appointment to enrol your biometric information (your fingerprints and photograph) you will be directed to another website to create an account and book an appointment at a UKVCAS centre to enrol your biometric information (fingerprints, photo and signature). UKVCAS is UKVI’s commercial partner and they operate the biometric enrolment appointments on behalf of UKVI. The closest UKVCAS centre is in Belfast City Centre. You should receive confirmation of the booked appointment via email.
- How much does it cost?
When you submit your visa application online, you will be required to pay for the visa application fee and the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS) fee.
Visa application fee
When paying the visa application fee, you will have different options of service:
A decision will usually be made within 8 weeks (after the UKVCAS appointment)
A decision will be made within 5 working days (after the UKVCAS appointment)
A decision will be made by the end of the next working day after the UKVCAS appointment (if your appointment is on a weekday) or 2 working days after the UKVCAS appointment (if your appointment is at the weekend)
If you applied for your visa using the UK Immigration: ID Check app you will receive digital confirmation of your immigration status which you can check on the UK Government website.
If you applied for your Student visa through a UKVCAS appointment centre, you will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card. Please note it can take up to 10 working days from the date you receive a decision on your visa application for your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card to arrive.
Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee
The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee is a mandatory fee that will allow you to access the National Health Service in the UK. The cost is calculated according to the length of visa that you will be granted. The cost is currently £470 per year and £235 for part of a year that is 6 months or less. You can use the IHS tool on the UKVI website to check how much you will be required to pay. The Student visa online application form automatically calculates how much you need to pay and you will need to make this payment online at the point of submitting your application.
Step 3: after you submit your online application
Next Steps after submitting your online application form
If you applied using the 'UK Immigration: ID Check' app
UKVI will inform you of the outcome of your application by email. They will send the decision to the email address you provided in your online application.
If you are required to attend an appointment at the UKVCAS application centre
You should arrive at your UKVCAS biometric enrolment appointment 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. A member of staff there will scan the QR code on your ‘Appointment Confirmation’ email. You will be asked to provide your biometric information (fingerprints, photo and signature). They will check that your documents have been uploaded to your online UKVCAS account. You should take the relevant documents with you to the appointment (in case there have been any problems with the document upload). The staff at the UKVCAS centre are not UKVI staff and will not make the decision regarding your application.
- Will you have to attend a credibility interview?
There is a possibility that you will be asked to attend a separate credibility interview where a UKVI caseworker will assess if you are a ‘genuine’ student. UKVI will contact you directly if you are required to attend an interview. If you receive a request to attend an interview, please contact ISS as soon as possible by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How will you receive the outcome of the application?
UKVI will inform you of the outcome of your application by email. They will send the decision to the email address you provided in your online application.
- How long will it take to get a decision?
It depends on the service type you selected when you submitted your application online. For more information about the service types and processing times see the ‘How much does it cost to apply?’ section.
- Receiving your new visa/Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card
Once you receive a decision regarding your application, it can take up to 10 working days for your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card, which will be your new Student visa, to arrive. It will be sent to the address you provided in your online application. If you used International Student Support’s office address, ISS will contact you by email to inform you that your BRP card is ready for you to collect once it has been received and checked.
Can you travel while your visa application is being considered?
You will keep your passport throughout the visa application process. However, if you leave the Common Travel Area (the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) and travel on the passport you used in your visa application before the Home Office makes a decision, you are automatically treated as having withdrawn your application. The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee you paid should be refunded, but the visa application fee will not be refunded. You will usually have to make another immigration application before returning to the UK. Therefore, it is advisable not to leave the Common Travel Area whilst you are awaiting a decision on your visa application.
If you urgently need to travel, email email@example.com to ask for advice about your visa application.