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Visa obligations and Tier 4 compliance

All students at the University of Northampton who require a visa to study in the UK must comply with the terms of their visa. If you require a Tier 4 Visa in order to study, you may only enrol on full time courses and the terms and conditions in the ISSS Handbook will apply to you. Please refer to pages 42-45.

How long can I stay in the UK?

Under Tier 4 immigration rules there are limits on the length of time students can spend in the UK.  Any new Tier 4 application must lead to you spending no more than five years on courses at degree level; this includes Tier 4 leave and pre-Tier 4 student leave.

There is a maximum time limit on studying with a Tier 4 visa. Before we can issue you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), we will need to check that your application will not take you over the maximum time allowed. The Home Office will not grant further leave to someone whose current Tier 4 application means they will exceed these time limits. Exceptions may apply. Please visit the UKCISA website for further details.

Please note that unless your CAS was assigned before 10 August 2015 then the short extra time you are given before the course (maximum one month) and after a course (maximum four months) will be included in this five year calculation.

If your visa is successful you can expect to be granted the length of your course (according to your CAS) plus:

Course Duration

Leave granted

12 months additional 4 months
6-12 Months additional 2 months leave
6 months or less additional 1 month

You must not remain in the UK after this date unless you have already submitted an application for further leave to remain in the UK such as extending your visa. Overstaying is a criminal offence and will have serious consequences for any future immigration applications that you make, including applications for countries other than the UK. Please also be aware that your visa may be curtailed if you defer, postpone, take a study break or complete your course early.

Changes in student status

If you have problems with your visa application or receive a visa refusal, or want to withdraw a visa application, you should contact ISSS by emailing for advice. Failure to do so could have serious consequences on your immigration status.

Over stayers

Before your visa expires you must either leave the UK or apply to extend your stay in the UK.  An over stayer is an individual who is still in the UK after their visa expiry date and has who has not applied for an extension. This means you are staying in the UK with expired visa permission and you have no legal status.

If you apply for a visa extension within the UK before the expiry date of your current visa, you are protected whilst your application is being processed by the Home Office.

Switching to another institution

If you have already been granted Tier 4 entry clearance to the UK under the sponsorship of another university, and you wish to change institutions to the University of Northampton, you will need to apply again under Tier 4, with a CAS issued by the University of Northampton. For further details please contact ISSS.

We advise you not to withdraw from your current sponsor until the University of Northampton has confirmed a CAS can be issued to you.  Please note not all students will be eligible under academic progression rules.

Switching to Tier 4 from another immigration status

If you are currently in the UK as a Visitor or a Short Term Student, you are not permitted to apply for a Tier 4 visa inside the UK. If you are in the UK on another visa type with permission to work, you may be able to switch inside the UK. To check if you can switch please refer to the UKVI website.

Working while studying

Tier 4 students either have a work restriction or a work prohibition. For further information on working during your studies, please visit the UKCISA website.

The UK immigration authorities treat work restrictions very seriously. They can refuse your immigration application, or remove you from the UK, if you work too many hours or if you do work which you are not allowed to do, and you might be barred from returning to the UK for a certain period.

Course type

Term time

Vacation time

Pre-Sessional English programme Up to 10 hours Full-time
Foundation programme Up to 10 hours Full-time
Undergraduate programme Up to 20 hours Full-time
Postgraduate programme Up to 20 hours Full-time

PhD students are limited to working no more than 20 hours per week. If your supervisor agrees you can take annual leave during your studies and can provide you with written confirmation of this, you can work full time during this agreed break.

If you are a student visitor you cannot work while you are studying in the UK. This includes paid employment, unpaid employment or work placement.

Please note your vacation begins and ends according to the academic calendar. Please visit the University term dates and closed days page for further information on the academic calendar.

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