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Immigration and visa advice

Students with other visas

If you are in the UK with a visa other than a Tier 4 student visa then studying may have implications on your immigration status. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are complying with the immigration rules at all times, however if you are unsure of your position you should contact a Student Adviser.

Visitor categories

If you have entered the UK as a Visitor, including Academic Visitor or Business Visitor you cannot usually study in the UK. This is because the Visitor rules state that you must “not intend to study” while you are here in this category. If you have entered the UK or obtained leave in advance in this category and wish to study, contact a Student Adviser who will be able to tell you how to make a valid application to come to the UK for your studies. The only exception to this is if you want to study a very short course of less than 30 days' duration.

If you have come to the UK as a Student Visitor then you can study, but you must not study on a course which lasts for longer than 6 months. The only exception to this is if you are studying a distance learning course which involves coming to the UK for short period of study, perhaps once or twice a year. In this instance, you may enter each time as a Student Visitor. However, if you are unsure you should consult a Student Adviser.

You should note that you cannot switch  from a Visitor visa to another visa (e.g. Tier 4) from within the UK.  

Work categories

If you have obtained any form of work visa (e.g. Post Study Work, Tier 5: Youth Mobility Scheme, Tier 1 (General), Tier 2 or Work Permit, Ancestry visa) then you are allowed to study either full or part time in the UK. However, the immigration rules state that in order to obtain leave in one of these categories you “must intend to work”. Therefore when you applied you did so on the understanding that your main intention in the UK was work.

If you later change your mind and decide to study, there is a danger that the immigration authorities may think that your reasons for being in the UK have changed, and as a result they could even decide to cancel your visa. If you do undertake study while holding a work visa, it is advisable to continue working in the UK, and if you are unsure of your situation, you should seek advice from a Student Adviser before taking any action. It is acceptable to study part time whilst holding a visa in one of these categories. Remember, however, if your visa runs out before the end of your course you cannot obtain an extension as a Student in order to complete your studies, since you must be studying full time in order to be granted a Tier 4 student visa.

Dependants

If you are in the UK with leave as a dependant (for example, your partner has a Student visa or a Tier 2 visa) then you can usually work or study while you are in the UK. You will be allowed to study part time or full time. Remember, though, if you study part time you cannot later be granted leave in the Tier 4 Student category if your dependant leave runs out and you require more leave to complete your course, as Tier 4 rules require that you are studying full time.

We have more information for dependants in our International Student Support pages. If you are unsure of your position, or if you are thinking about obtaining leave in a different category, seek advice from a Student Adviser.

If you have leave in any category not listed above and are not sure of your rights in the UK with regards to work and study, contact a Student Adviser.

UKCISA provides further guidance on this matter.

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