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Visa and immigration guide for students

Last updated: 9 May 2024

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Time limit on UK study
Academic progression
Academic Technology Approval Scheme
Credibility interviews
Visa refusals
Visa conditions
Your visa
International enrolment
Reporting duties
Your contact details and address

Time limit on UK study

The UK Home Office enforces a limit on the amount of time allowed for study on a Student route visa. Before issuing you with a CAS, we need to check that your study at the University of Gloucestershire will not take you over the maximum time permitted.

When calculating the total time you have studied in the UK, the Home Office will count the time in months and round individual days upwards or downwards to the nearest month.

For Student route study below degree level there is a study limit of two years. This time cap only applies to students 18 years old and over. Any study from your 18th birthday onwards will be counted towards this limit.

For Student route students studying at degree level or above there is a study limit of five years.

There are a few exceptions to the five-year cap. If you are applying to study a course and the five-year cap would prevent you from completing a 5th academic year at degree level or above, then the limit is extended to five years and 11 months.

There is no cap for study at PGT (RQF7) or above.

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.

Academic progression

The Home Office requires the University to check that your next course of study in the UK would represent academic progression. This check needs to be carried out before CAS issuance, and needs to be justified on your CAS statement.

You may be exempt from evidencing academic progression if you are:

  • Making your first Student route application (and have not previously studied under Tier 4)
  • Making a Student route application from overseas
  • Making a first application to move to a new institution to complete an existing course commenced at a Student route sponsor that had its licence revoked
  • Applying to resit or repeat a failed module
  • Applying to complete the PhD or other doctoral qualification for which you were last given Student route student leave
  • Applying to complete the qualification for which you were given Student route leave after a period as a student union sabbatical officer.

To demonstrate academic progression, your new course must normally be above the level (NQF, QCF etc) of the previous course for which you were given Student route leave. The Home Office does not allow you to study at a lower level than previously studied.

If the new course is at the same level as the previous course, it may exceptionally be considered to represent academic progression if:

  • Your new course is related to the previous course for which you were given Student route leave (either connected, part of the same subject group or involves a deeper specialisation); or
  • Your previous and new course combined support your genuine career aspirations.

If you have failed to successfully complete the previous course for which you were granted Student route leave (meaning you have not achieved the qualification for which you were studying), you will not be able to demonstrate academic progress and will need to apply from overseas.

When making an application from overseas, although the Home Office will not be able to refuse you on academic progression grounds, they will still be able to assess on academic progression during your overseas credibility interview. For this reason, the International Student Services Team will always make an academic progression assessment before deciding if it is possible to issue you with a CAS. If the International Student Services Team considers that you do not meet the academic progression requirement for a Student route visa, you will not be given a CAS.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) applies to all international students and researchers (apart from exempt nationalities) who are subject to UK immigration control and are intending to study or research at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects.

The subjects and research areas are those where knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery. Researchers and students in these sensitive subjects must apply for an ATAS certificate before they can study or start research in the UK.

Very few courses at the University will require clearance under the ATAS scheme. If you are required to obtain an ATAS certificate, you will be notified of this by the Admissions Team.

To learn more about the ATAS application process, and for more detailed information about which types of study and subject areas are affected, please see the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

Please note: it can take several weeks to obtain an ATAS certificate, so it is important that you apply well before submitting your visa application.

Credibility interviews

The Home Office conduct credibility interviews to ensure that all students applying to study in the UK are genuine students. You will be asked various questions pertaining to your intention to study, course details, finances, career aspirations and many other areas. Below are some examples of questions you may be asked.

Why did you choose the University of Gloucestershire?

For this question please think about why you specifically chose this University, including why you are looking to study in the UK. You can find more information about the University of Gloucestershire on our website.

Why did you choose this course?

There may be many courses similar to the course you have chosen. What specifically makes you interested in this course?

How will studying this course help you with your future career plans?

Think about your plans after you finish the course, and how this qualification will help you to achieve these aims. How will completing this course help you to progress?

How do you intend to fund your studies and what impact will this have on your home life?

The cost of studying in the UK may be higher than at home. Think about how you intend to fund the latter years of your study. Please remember that once in the UK you will usually only be permitted to work 20 hours per week. This should not be how you intend to fund your study. Also think about the benefits that having a UK degree will give to you that a degree from your home country may not.

If you have had a significant break in your studies, why do you want to return to the UK?

Consider your long-term career ambitions and how you this study will benefit you.

Visa refusals

The most common reasons for visa refusal are inadequate funding evidence and credibility. A credibility refusal is based on the UKVI’s interview with you, and if they feel your intention to study is not genuine.

If you are refused a Student route visa, the UKVI will issue a refusal notice to the address you have stated on your visa application. It is important that you take time to fully digest the details of this notice and the implications it has for your immigration history.

The University, as the issuer of your CAS statement for your visa application, has a duty to the Home Office to report and keep on file all visa refusals. For this reason, it is imperative that any visa refusal notices you receive are forwarded to The University will only consider issuing a second CAS for a new visa application upon receipt of your visa refusal notice.

If your visa application is refused, the Home Office letter containing the reasons for refusing your application will also notify you that you have the right to apply for administrative review of the decision. This letter should include a link to guidance on the administrative review process.

The cost of administrative review is £80 and no new evidence can be supplied – the administrative review process is purely a review to determine if the case worker assessing your visa application applied the immigration rules correctly in line with the evidence provided during the initial application.

If your application is refused the Student route application fee will not be refunded. However, if you paid the immigration health surcharge (IHS) as part of your application, this will be refunded in full.

Visa conditions

Your Student route immigration permission has some conditions. These conditions will be stated on your entry clearance vignette, or on your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

Working Hours

Student route students either have a work restriction or a work prohibition. The UK immigration authorities treat work restrictions very seriously. They can remove you from the UK if you work too many hours.

If you intend to study a course at or above UK degree level, the maximum amount of part-time work you can work during term time will usually be 20 hours per week. If you intend to study a course that is below UK degree level, you will usually be limited to 10 hours per week. You can work full-time during vacation periods. Taught postgraduate students only have vacation periods over the Easter and Christmas breaks. Postgraduate research students do not have any vacation periods. If you have been granted Student route leave on the basis of a part-time course you will not have any work allowance.

Public Funds

Your immigration conditions prohibit you from accessing ‘public funds’, which means certain welfare benefits and local authority housing. Using the National Health Service (NHS), sending your child to a state school, being exempt from the Council Tax, and paying “home” fees for study do not count as accessing ‘public funds’. If you apply for a welfare benefit that you do not qualify for, you will be breaching the conditions of your immigration permission.

Study at the University of Gloucestershire

When you enter (or re-enter) the UK, you must intend to study at the University of Gloucestershire. It is usually a condition of your Student route leave that you study full-time, and are in regular attendance and are a genuine, engaged student.

Part-time study under Student route is only available in a few circumstances and must have been indicated on the initial CAS/application for Student route leave.

Breaching these Conditions

If you fail to comply with the conditions of your visa, the Home Office can refuse future immigration applications or remove you from the UK. You might be barred from returning to the UK for a certain period.

Your visa

Your Vignette

If your leave in the UK is for six months or less, then your vignette will be valid for your whole stay in the UK. However, in most other cases the vignette in your passport will only be valid for 90 days. In these cases your vignette is purely for entry clearance into the UK. Once in the UK you will be required to collect your BRP.

Your vignette’s 90-day validity will start 30 days before your course start date on your CAS, or seven days before the date you specified on your application as your intended date of travel to the UK, whichever is later. If you do not travel within this time then your vignette will expire and you will need to apply for another vignette. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact for further advice.

Your 90-day vignette will be accompanied by a letter. When you enter the UK you should show the border force officer your 90-day vignette and this letter.

Your Biometric Residence Permit

From autumn 2024, most students will no longer be issued with a physical document such as a BRP and will need to create a UKVI account to access their eVisa.

Once you have received your successful visa notification, if the accompanying letter identifies a BRP has been issued (instead of or in addition to an eVisa), you will need to collect your BRP from the Post Office in Gloucester once you have arrived in the UK. Please check that all details on the BRP card are correct on collection.

International enrolment

All students must enrol onto their course during the enrolment period, and must re-enrol on an annual basis.

Document Checking

To enrol, non-UK nationals must visit the International Student Services Team so that the required immigration documentation can be verified and copies taken in person, as per Home Office rules. Any students trying to enrol without having had documents verified will be unable to do so.

You will usually need to provide:

  • Your current passport
  • Evidence of visa/leave to remain in the UK

New Student route students will also need to provide the original qualifications that were listed on their CAS statement.

Once copies of these documents have been taken, the block preventing enrolment will be removed from your student record. If you are required to collect a BRP after arrival, you will need to provide this as part of the document checking process. If you cannot provide the required documents will not be permitted to enrol.

Online Enrolment

Once your documents have been checked you will be free to enrol online via your Student Record. You will be asked to provide your address and contact information, and you may also need to pay fees.

If you have a fee issue impeding your enrolment, please contact our Income Team at

Failing to Enrol

The University is obligated to report any Student route students who have not enrolled by the end of the enrolment period to the Home Office. Once reported for non-enrolment, the Home Office will begin the process of visa curtailment, and you should assume that your visa will be curtailed to within 60 days.

Document checking times and locations can be found on the University of Gloucestershire visas and immigration webpage.

Reporting duties

As part of the University of Gloucestershire’s Student route duties, any significant changes to a student’s study must be reported back to the Home Office. These reports are made electronically using the UKVI’s Sponsor Management System.


The University is obligated to report any Student route students who have not enrolled by the end of the enrolment period to the Home Office. You will be notified via email of when the latest date for your enrolment is, and if/when you have been reported.

Course Transfers

Any students transferring to another University of Gloucestershire course part-way through a current course will also be reported. Students requiring ATAS should note that this would need to be supplied before you can transfer. To transfer to another course, please visit the Helpzone for further advice.


Students who defer studies for more than 60 days are required to be reported to the Home Office, who will then begin the process of visa curtailment. In this instance you will have to return overseas and re-apply for a new visa when you are ready to re-commence your studies. To defer your studies, please visit the Helpzone for further advice. It may also be beneficial to speak to the Compliance team for more details on how this will affect your visa.


Students withdrawing from studies (voluntarily or involuntarily) will be reported to the Home Office, who will then begin the process of visa curtailment. To withdraw from your studies, please visit the Helpzone for further advice. It may also be beneficial to speak to the Compliance team for more details on how this will affect your visa.

Completing your course early

Any students completing their course early will also be reported so that the leave granted can be adjusted to be in line with the correct end date of study. Any students reported as not-enrolled, deferred or withdrawn should assume that their visa will be curtailed to within 60 days of the date of reporting. Students completing their course early will usually be given the appropriate length of time at the end of their visa (which for courses longer than one year is four months).

Switching Immigration Category

Any students who switch from a Student route visa to another immigration category will be reported so that the Home Office is aware you are no longer a Student route student.

If you have switched, or intend to switch to another immigration category, please visit the Compliance team for advice on how this may affect your studies.

Your contact details and address

The University is required to keep up-to-date contact details of all Student route students, which may be requested at any time by the Home Office. It is your responsibility to keep your online student record updated with current contact information. If this information is incorrect you may miss vital correspondence from the University which could affect your immigration status.

When updating your contact details, please be aware that your Home details will be your non-term time (often overseas) address, contact number, and your private email address.

Your Contact details will be your term time (UK) address, contact number and your University email address.

The details can be updated via Student Records Online.

You are also required to update the Home Office if your contact details change. Please visit the website for more information.

Please note that we expect all taught students (at undergraduate and postgraduate levels) to be living in Cheltenham, Gloucester, or an easily commutable distance away. If it becomes apparent that you are living further away, and where this is having a detrimental impact on study, the International Student Services Team will intervene to encourage you to move closer. If the problem persists, then you risk being withdrawn from studies, and reported to the UKVI for visa curtailment.

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