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Time limit cap on studies with Tier 4 leave

Time limit ('cap') on studies with Tier 4 leave

Before issuing your CAS, QMUL will check all your previous Tier 4 immigration permission granted for degree level studies, including periods of leave granted before and after your course. Normally, you can spend a maximum of 5 years and 11 months studying in the UK at degree level with Tier 4 immigration permission. Any old-style student visa for degree-level studies that was issued before Tier 4 existed is also counted towards the cap. The limit of time spent in the UK with Tier 4 leave counts, even if you are applying for your new Tier 4 visa from outside the UK. 

Some specific courses are exempt from the time limit, including Medicine and Dentistry, as long as you are applying to start or continue the programme. You can check which other courses are exempt in the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance.  If you have already completed (or abandoned) a programme that was exempt when you were studying it, it will be counted.

A first UK PhD, MRes, or one of the other Postgraduate Research Qualifications listed in Annex 3 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance are exempt from the cap.

However, if you have already completed a Postgraduate Research Qualification, you can only apply for further Tier 4 immigration permission if the new course will bring the total number of years to eight or less. For a full list of acceptable PG research qualifications please see Annex 3 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

The 5-year cap is extended to 6 years if you have successfully completed a 4-year degree course and you are now progressing to a Masters. The 4-year degree must have had a standard length of four years not, for example, a 3-year course with a repeat year. It can be a course with a year in industry or a year abroad.

From 6 April 2019, if you have held Tier 4 immigration permission before reaching the age of 18, this time will not be counted towards the maximum time permitted.

If you take longer than expected to complete your course, for example because you need to retake part of your course or do resits, and to do so would take you over the five year limit, you can only extend your immigration permission if you had very compelling circumstances, such as injury, disability, or other compelling reasons. You can get further advice from Welfare Adviser or another regulated immigration adviser before you apply.

Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

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