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Yes, there are many types of student visa so beware when changing college | Immigration Matters

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Probably the most common questions in my mailbox relate to student visas. Students, employers and even the occasional UK Border Agency officer are confused by the raft of immigration rule changes over the last few years.

A major concern is what students should do to stay on the right side of the law when moving college or changing course. The answer to these questions largely depends on when you arrived in the UK and what type of visa you hold.

If you are here on a student visa prior to March 2009, when Tier 4 started, you retain the terms and conditions of your stay in the UK associated with the old rules, until your current permission to stay expires. Under the old rules changing your educational provider is a relatively straightforward matter of informing the UK Border Agency and does not involve reapplying for your visa. But if you extend your stay in the UK as a student, you will need to apply to us under Tier 4 of the points-based system.

If you are a Tier 4 student and arrived before October 2009 you need permission to change sponsor, but not a change of visa. However, if you applied for your visa after 5 October 2009 your visa is tied to your provider and you must make a new application for permission to stay before you start your course with a new sponsor.

Switching courses with the same provider does not require a new permission from the UK Border Agency as long as you have sufficient existing leave on your visa. The provider should inform the UK Border Agency that you have changed course.

Employers need to be aware that students who obtained their visas after 5 October 2009 and later changed sponsor without obtaining a new visa are no longer legally in the UK, which means they could be hit with a £5000 for employing them. In addition, some students arriving after March 2010 may have permission to work just 10 hours a week. To clarify, that’s 10 hours per week, not 10 hours a day!

The rules are a minefield, so if in doubt seek professional advice from an OISC registered immigration adviser.

Finally, if you are in the UK on either of the above student visas, you must be engaged in full time study. Your student visa is not valid if you are not studying and following the rules.

Cynthia Barker is a UK based qualified Immigration Adviser with Bison UK, and writes for Planet Philippines.

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

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Cynthia Barker is an Immigration Adviser and Co Author of the book: How 2 Come to the UK to Live Work Study or Visit. Cynthia writes a regular immigration column for Planet Philippines and Europhil Journal.

40 Responses to “Yes, there are many types of student visa so beware when changing college”
Read them below or add one

  1. hello,
    i need some help. i am doing bachlors in hotel management. this is my last semester for dissertation. i have to submit it on 18th of january 2013 but due to some family problem i am unable to do it. my visa is expiring on 28th of february 2013. i just want to know can i extend my visa for few months to do my dissertation? please reply me aaap.

  2. Gopaul says :

    Hi,i came in Uk in september 2009 and i got student visa for 3 years,my visa will expire in november 2012 and i am going to do my MBA in January,i just want to know if i will have to return to my country to apply for my masters or i can stay in Uk and apply. Thank you

  3. hi .i am in student visa, i came uk before october 2009 but i m in tier 4. ijust wanna know when im goin to extend my visa how much money i have to put in my account and 1 more thing u made a rules tier 4 student cant do more then 5 years undergraduate .is this rules for me as well.i ll b very greatfull if u tell me whats the rules for me.thank u so much..

  4. hi dear i got bit trouble . my student visa was issued on 03 july 2009 to july 2012. on the mean time i have changed my college but i did not informed home office. now i need to extend visa for further course. what will happen on this situation. and another thing i got lc20 driving offence, should i have to include this offence in application form.i will be more than happy if i will get any suggestion,thank you

  5. Hi,my course started 3 months before..i have applied for my visa 2 days can i enter in the uk as my course started in march?the CAS letter is valid upto 6 months so please tell me.

  6. Hello! I am uk student .I am over 18.I planed to change a new school after Easter holiday in this year but the new school is on the same city. Am I need to reapply a visa ? If it needs to reapply,therefore,how long does it take to reapply a new visa.
    Also,can I apply in England by myself or from other method to apply a visa in England , or It needs to back hk to apply with my parent ?

  7. mariya says :

    Hi, I am on student visa,and I’ve been studying ACCA for 3 years. I’ve passed first 5 subjects during mt first year, however have been failing ever since, some of the subjects two times.
    Please advise me if my poor progress will affect my visa application?

    Thank you

  8. kulwinder singh says :

    hi there, i have visa till feb 2012 i arrived in london on 18 jan 2010 but the college is changing the courses so i didnt entered into m.b.a for what i m here for. now they change fast track m.b.a topup but the certificate which i got pgdba was not validated by university it is the college validated course and they put me in gcbm that was validated from university of wales level 6. i donot want to do m.b.a topup as new visa extension in college doesnt permit to work 20 hours. what should i do can i apply for psw on behalf on gcbm(graduate certificate of business management)affailated by uni if wales saint david truinity. or i can change to university. please suggest the right or i have good sponcership of work here as well.

  9. You most probably can change courses, but there are also other factors to take into account before you make your decision. How long is your current visa? Did you complete your last course?
    Some universities offer 1 year ‘top up’ degrees where you can obtain a full degree in nursing and the ONP in just 12 months (1 year’s fees instead of 3). You might want to consider this before signing up?

  10. Respected sir/madam
    i m student of tier4 and i have visa july2012.i wanna change my course and college.i arrived in uk 26 oct 2009 can i change my course and college.i had done GNM Nursing from my home country and i wish BSC and MSC Nuersing here in liverpool university.could u guide me pls

  11. Syed Asad Ali Shah says :

    Respected Sir
    i got student visa for 2010, 2011 session but due to some domestic problems i was unable to join university in that session and my visa is valid till January 2012. now i want to join university in September 2011 can i travel on same visa or not because i want to extend my visa from UK.

  12. Hello Sir,
    This is a good forum for ideal information.i am presently in a college that i came in through since 2008,since i haven’t been issued a CAS NUMBER before even i renewed my visa on the 16th nov. 2009,can i still change my college?


  13. hi
    i am student in UK and i want change my student visa i want business visa in UK can you some help me

  14. Hello Sir,
    I am a oversease student here from India on student visa of education level 5 and i am supposed to work only 10 hours p/w,But i am changing my course according to my future carrier,and i am eligible for the same so my institution is permitting me to upgrate my course from study level 5 to 7,and i want to extend my work permit as 20 hours p/w as per the rules,kindly let me know what should i do in this regard,
    thank you

  15. Uzoamaka Mbadiwe says :

    Hello Abu,

    In response to your questions; I had similar problems earlier with regards to my application in September 2009. I wasn’t given the right of appeal as I still had time remaining on my visa (which was due to expire in November, then); I believe there is a law backing such situations.

    With respect to your enquiry, you didn’t mention whether you have already enrolled in a new college; in which case, that will make you run foul of the immigration rule because from February 2011 it has become an offence under tier 4 new rules to enrol in a college without waiting for the Home Office’s permission to do so.

    However, if the Home office have asked you to put up new application; you should just do that. Given that you have a short time remaining in your visa, I’ll advice that you quickly notify the Home Office of your intention to change your Sponsor, hopefully, they may reply you on time before your visa expires.

    To be on the safe side however, I will advice that you extend your visa with your current sponsor, since they are Tier 4 rated; that should give you enough time to get the approval for any new program you may wish to undertake, without much hiccups. It may appear more expensive now, as you will need to re-apply again with a new sponsor but in the end, it is a surer path.

    More importantly,it will be wise for you to go to the Home office website;, download the guidance notes, study it before making further mistakes.

    I do hope this information has been helpful. Best of Lucks.

  16. Hi,
    I came in uk 2007 on March. Recently On 13 october 2010 i had extended my visa and that visa will expire on 31 of May 2011. I had done my HND in computing from A (trusted) college under edexcel. The college where i had study they have maximum level 5. Wanted to finish my degree soon. Therefore i have to change my college under the new UKBA rules.

    However i had done slightly wrong on technically i didn’t notice them or didn’t wait for to get the permission (well college wouldn’t tell me that either) as soon as send off application i had been refused. The refused letter said your college (The present) does not hightly tursted college but at the same time you had attened the class.

    They didn’t give right to appeal.
    They didn’t give any review either.
    Just they said put a new application.


    In this circumastances what i can i do ? which options will suitable for me.

    Put a new application do i must need hightly trusted college (becuase it is continue course).

    Or Put a new application (A rated) college as following them the new soponsor rules.

    If any one can kindly give the best soluation/idea or tell me the way how i can should get out of it.

    sorry quick typing and made some spelling/grammatical wrong… take it easy guys

  17. hi

    I applied in feb 2008 and i got my student visa after my appeal was approved in June 2010.i’m in uk now and wants to change my college.
    could you please provide the law.Can i change my college as my application was submitted before march 2008.

  18. rahman says :

    hello sir

    i came to uk in 2008 and did advance diploma than my visa expired in 2009,than i took admission in new college n join pg diploma but after 14 months my visa was denied as my college was not thr in tier 4,n they askd me for appeal but i did not appeal and came back to my country so can i apply again for masters in mba from uk can i get visa now or i get any problem thanks u





  20. hi, i required some information urgently please please provide me information regarding my visa. i came to uk on 18th of Feb 2010. on tier 4 visa on Bachalor degree. later on in sep 2010 i change cource with same cource provider to level 7 diploma. well my question is in 3 december 2010 i college had withdrawn me from the cource and i been told that they had inform to ukba.due to non contact with the intitution. iam mentally dispress. please advice me what to do.

  21. […] A major concern is what students should do to stay on the right side of the law when moving college or changing course. The answer to these questions largely depends on when you arrived in the UK and what type of visa you hold. See Yes, there are many types of student visa so beware when changing college.  […]

  22. pacita g. vizcarra says :

    thank you! this is what we need, something very informative and enlightening website.indeed knowledge is power!

  23. […] Yes, there are many types of student visa so beware when changing college […]

  24. hello!I am holding a Visit visa for 6 months and the only condition in my passport is, I am not allowed to work and no recourse to public fund. Am I allowed to enroll a course here in the UK?Thank you

  25. Nice warning to all international students. I am sure this will serve as a guide to them when they are planning to change college. Changing college is sometimes a complicated considering all the processes that you have to follow and the expenses also are to be considered. Advice is indeed necessary before finalizing your decision.

  26. Aftab Amjad Ali says :

    Respected Sir!

    After concluding my L.L.B (Bachelor of Law) and MSc Rural Sociology, I am working as Social Welfare officer since 2003 in the Department of Social Welfare & Women Development, Government of Punjab, Pakistan. Having sanctioned leave from my department, I came to U.K on Friday Sep 17, 2010 for post graduation study of MSc International Human Resource Management at Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh. The sudden death of my mother on Friday Sep 24, 2010 emerged as a tragic incidence and I have to return to Pakistan on same day within a week time after my arrival.

    Keeping in view my unforeseen circumstances, the Edinburgh Napier University adjusted/shifted me in a closely related course of M.Sc. Business Management with HRM for January intake.

    I was granted Student Visa under Tier4 with Multiple Entries for the period of 06-09-2010 to 27-10-2011 which a valid for a year from now and approx. 10 months from the start of my course in January but the University Postgraduate Admission Office has advised me to apply for a new visa as per UK Border Agency regulations. While the clause 287 of UKBA Policy Guidance explains as:

    “Students do not need to get permission from us if they have enough time left in their permission to stay and want to do a different course of study with their Tier 4 sponsor. The student’s Tier 4 sponsor will tell us that you have changed course.”

    So such state of affairs has created confusion that should I get a new visa for coming back to UK in January with same Tier4 Sponsor having 10 months valid visa from January onward for a one year course? Should I need to extend my current study visa for only more required time of 2 to 3 months after arriving at UK? If I take Post Graduate Diploma of 8 months time then will the current visa of 10 months be sufficient for the purpose?

    I have already contacted with UKBA enquiries from both of their main office and local representative offices but no response has yet been given in such matter. Please guide me about my status so that I can start my studies in January and provide me any remedy available for such bona fide and extra ordinary situation. It will be a kind favour in this regard.

    Aftab Amjad Ali

  27. Raminder Kaur says :

    I need your help regarding change of college.I’m student of London college of accounting & finance.but my college Is not good.I want to channge my college.I came In UK on 30oct,2009.i applied for my visa in september 2009 because of rush i got my visa after36 days on 12Oct, visa valid until 28-05-2010.I’m student of tourism management my course started in January 2010.our teacher Maria taught us tourism from January to may after may she left our college.then college principal combine our batch with new batch & start our syllabus from starting.when we asked our principal they told us Maria is not tourism teacher.they waste our 5 months.we don’t know about our syllabus & exams because in January 2011 my course will they combine our batch with 3rd batch.they combine 1,2,3 batch sept 2009,June2010 & Sept 2010.our future is in trouble.even they take extra money from students and mark their present.they are corrupt.can u help me.i want to change my college is it possible according rules because all my classmate already change their college our college management behaviour is very bad.I’m waiting for your reply.


  28. in 2008 i got admission in south Birmingham College after attending some educational opendays during my two and half months visit in the UK. my parents are national there. i have more then 15000 £ in my personal bank account, and i have already deposit 1100£ at the time of admission.
    can i apply without hesitation or there is any further requirement. please guide me

    A. Ali

  29. […] Yes, there are many types of student visa so beware when changing college […]

  30. Nice to be able to know this information. I thought all student visas are the same, if I hadn’t read this post, I would have made a mistake. Now at least i know what to do and what to avoid. Thank you very much for sharing this kind of information.

  31. […] Yes, there are many types of student visa so beware when changing college […]

  32. Yes, you can change your college or course, but should take advice.

  33. hi.i applied for visa on 29 september 2009 and got my visa on 4 november 2009 and arrived in u.k. on 24/11/2009 so is it possible for me to change my college and course.vat rules applied for me pls. let me know.

  34. oh very very informative well done

  35. parshotam singh says :

    hi, i am parshotam singh.i am here on student visa for MBA in tourism and hospitality mgt. but my college is not reconised from uk university. its from australian institute…my college name is maritime greenwich college, london..i wish to change my college..can u suggest me..wht should i do for it…
    parshotam singh

  36. i’ve applied my visa feb of 2009 (non-point based system when i applied for my visa) and i was granted september 2009… do i need to change my sponsor? please help me. i need a clear answer to know what to do… my visa will expire 2012.

  37. Andro Banate says :


    I have been to UK for 21 months. My visa extension or permit to remain in the UK had been approved in February 2010. My first visa with my first training provider under NVQ level course in health and social care was expired on 5 January 2010 and luckily I got the extension with different training provider as I enrolled with different course which was BTEC. I decided to get back here in the Philippines in April and told my 2nd Training provider that I have to cancel my study as I have to go back to my country of origin for a very important reason. My visa will expires in 2013. Do I still have the right to go back to UK or is my visa still valid despite the fact that I canceled my studies? If I want to go back to UK and find another training provider with different course do I have to apply a visa as new?

    looking forward to an answer and clarification about my status.


  38. Teresita Alumno says :

    I just want to inquire about my daughter application for citizenship. It was declined last year when I applied together with my application. She is only 13 years old at that time. She was in the UK since 2007. Is there a chance to appeal or do I need to reapply her again? I’m already a UK citizen.

  39. imran ali says :

    Very useful information

  40. […] Yes, there are many types of student visas so beware when changing college […]

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