Time limits on study
Depending on the level of study, there can be strict time limits on how long a student can spend holding a Student visa. Please read the information specific to each level of study below.
Studying under degree level
When studying a foundation course or A-levels, you are allowed to spend no more than 2 years on a Student visa since the date you turn 18. This 2-year limit does not include any time spent as a Tier 4 (Child) when you were aged 17 years and under, Tier 4 (General) when you were 16 or 17 years old or on any other non-Tier 4 or Student visa category which permits study.
If you have studied a foundation course while holding a combined Student visa for the foundation year and the main degree programme, the undergraduate degree-level time limits will apply.
Studying at undergraduate degree level
As a rule, when studying at undergraduate degree level your time as a Tier 4 student/Student is limited to a maximum of five years. There are a few exceptions to this rule, some are listed below:
- You are undertaking a course in dentistry, medicine and veterinary science
- You are undertaking a course in architecture, or music at a music college that is a member of Conservatoires UK. These options are not offered at the University of Bristol
- You have completed a UK degree and are applying to complete certain professional law programmes, e.g. a law conversion course
Studying at postgraduate degree level
Starting from 5 October 2020, there is no longer a visa time limit on studying postgraduate courses at RQF level 7 and above. This includes Master's degrees, integrated undergraduate + Master's degrees (e.g. MEng and MSci), MPhil and MRes, PhD and other doctorate qualifications.
How are time limits calculated?
Your time limit is calculated based on the length of visas granted to you and not duration of courses studied. The UKVI will consider how much leave you have already received to study courses as a Tier 4 (General) or a Student visa holder and add the length of leave that you will receive if your current application is granted.
Any additional time before and after any course is counted, as well as time spent outside the UK and on vacation.
If you have previously studied in the UK, the University will assess whether or not you are likely to exceed the time limit before issuing you a CAS. It is therefore very important that you declare all the previous courses you have studied and all the student visas you have held in your application for admission. You are also welcome to contact us to discuss the time limits prior to this stage.
If you are a current University of Bristol student and require an academic extension that will take you over the relevant time limit, the University will not be able to issue you a CAS for this. You will need to make alternative arrangements for the remainder of your studies, e.g. completing your course remotely or switching to a different immigration category (if eligible). You are also welcome to contact us to discuss the time limits prior to requesting an extension.