Extending your student visa in the UK should be straightforward, but many discover that the process is not as simple as they think.
We receive hundreds of enquiries from students who want to extend their visas to complete their studies or start a new course. Many are refused by the Home Office for a variety of reasons.
If you are an international student on a student visa or with leave (permission to stay) to study in the UK, you can apply to extend your visa subject to meeting the immigration rules.
The UK Border Agency website advises that:
You must have last entered the UK with a valid student visa or prospective student entry clearance or visa
You must have been granted permission to enter or stay to re-sit an examination, or
as a student union sabbatical officer, as a as a work permit holder, under the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme (now known as the International Graduates Scheme) or under the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme or
you have valid leave (permission to stay) as a student.
If you attend a succession of short courses below degree level the maximum time you can stay in total as a student is two years. A short course is a course less than one year long or longer courses broken off before completion.
How to apply for a Student Visa Extension
In order to apply for an extension to stay in the UK to study you will need to complete an FLR(S) ‘Further Leave to Remain’ application form, which can be downloaded from the UK Border Agency website.
You must carefully study the guidance notes before completing and submitting the application form, otherwise you could be refused and lose your fee.
Why do Students get refused an extension?
In most cases, students are refused an extension of their leave to remain because they have failed to comply with the immigration rules. Common reasons include:
Working too many hours (yes, they can find out)
Not making satisfactory progress on the course (yes, they check attendance records)
Studying at a ‘non-approved’ educational establishment, which is not on the DIUS Register of Educational and Training Providers.
The first two reasons are quite clear, however, the last is less obvious. Many students arrive in the UK on a student visa for an approved college, but later find that the College or course is not what they thought it was or, as in the case of Affinity Training, the college has gone out of business. Students often feel pressured into rushing to signing up with a new provider or college and fail to check the DIUS Register.
You can search the register by visiting:
Transferring to another provider can be traumatic, but do not be pushed into making the wrong decision, as choosing the wrong college may result in your visa extension being refused.
Can I appeal against a refusal?
Yes, you can appeal to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT), but you must have grounds of appeal and a valid case. If in doubt, take legal advice or see www.visaappeals.com for further information on the appeals process.
Finally, your stay in the UK on a student visa does not qualify you for permanent residency or Indefinite Leave, however, if you are legally in the UK for more than 10 years you may qualify for residence under the ‘long stay’ concession.