Changes to course of study
Student Visa holders: Changes to your course of study
If you are on a Student Visa, changes to your course could have an impact on your Student Visa. Please read the information below carefully. If you are not sure if your situation is going to have an impact on your current visa then please contact the International Student Support team for advice.
Imperial College will require those on a Student Visa to seek immigration advice before changes to the course are made. You will be required to complete a Change of Study form with your Department and once this form is signed off by your Department it will be forwarded to the International Student Support team.
Detailed below are different scenarios related to change of studies:
Adding an integral work placement or study abroad year to your course and this extends your course end date
If your course end date is extended because you have added a Year in Industry or Study Abroad year to your programme, you can make a new Student Visa application from within the UK in order to obtain a visa to cover the remainder of your studies. You can make the visa application at any point prior to your current visa expiring but not during the work placement (so either before your placement starts or once it has finished). See our guidance on preparing for a visa application in the UK.
Students moving from BEng / BSc to MEng / MSci
If you commenced a Bachelor degree and you now want to progress to an undergraduate Master’s degree and need additional time on your visa for the Masters year, you will need to make a new Student Visa application. You can make the application in the UK.
Once you hold the correct visa for the new course, your record will be transferred on to the new programme route.
You should also check if the Undergraduate Masters programme requires you to hold ATAS clearance. See http://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/international-students/visas-and-immigration/atas/ for more information. You should obtain ATAS clearance in advance of making a Tier 4 application.
Requiring additional time to complete your course for any other reason
Sometimes, you may have mitigating circumstances which mean that your course end date has been extended. If you need additional time on your Student Visa you will need to make a Student Visa application from your home country in order to obtain a visa to cover the remainder of your studies.
Please note: If you are currently undertaking a PhD and you need additional time to complete your course, you are able to make a visa application in the UK for this purpose. You are not required to leave the UK and apply from your home country. For further information on applying for a visa from within the UK please see our section: Applying for a student visa in the UK.
Students moving from an MEng / MSci to a BEng / BSc
If you commenced studying on a 4 or 5-year undergraduate Master’s degree, and you have now decided you want to move to a Bachelor degree OR an academic decision at exam board means that you have to move onto a Bachelor degree you can only make this visa application in your home country.
Once you hold the correct visa for the new course and have arrived back in the UK, your record will be transferred on to the new programme route
PhD to MPhil
If you commenced studying on a 4 year PhD, and you have now decided you want to move to the MPhil OR an academic decision at exam board means that you have to move onto an MPhil, you will have to leave the UK to make a new Student Visa application for the new programme of study.
You should also check if the MPhil programme requires you to hold ATAS clearance. See http://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/international-students/visas-and-immigration/atas/ for more information. You should obtain ATAS clearance in advance of making your new Student Visa application.
Students resitting exams or repeating a year
Resits without attendance
If you are required to resit examinations but are not required to be in attendance at the College during that academic year, the College is required to inform the Home Office that you are not required to attend and they will take action to cancel your visa. You will need to make arrangements to leave the UK. You then apply to come back to the UK as a Short-Term Student in order to attend your exams. Once your exams are over you should leave the UK again to await the results. If you subsequently progress into the next year of your course at that stage you will be given a new Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) in order to apply for a new Student Visa. See http://www.imperial.ac.uk/study/international-students/visas-and-immigration/short-term-study-visa/ for more information about applying as a Short-Term Student.
Resits with attendance
If you are required to repeat an academic year with attendance at the College, this will extend your formal course end date. You will need to make a Student Visa application in order to obtain enough time on your visa to complete the course and you can make this Student Visa application from within the UK.
Interruption of Studies
If you are thinking about taking a break from your studies, this is called an interruption of studies. The break is usually for the reminder of the academic year or a full calendar year and most often is needed for health-related, financial or other personal / work-related reasons. If you decide to pause your studies your student status will change (you will still be registered but not enrolled). This may affect things like your funding, your right to remain in the UK or services that depend on being an enrolled student.
Your interruption of studies is likely to extend your study end date. The College will normally have to inform the Home Office that you are no longer studying and you will have to make arrangements to leave the UK. You will need to apply for a new Student Visa from your home country before you can resume your studies.
The Student Support Zone webpage provides guidance so that you understand what you need to think about, who is available to advise and support you, and how to apply for an interruption of studies.
Changes to your programme route
If you change programme route within your department (for example, transferring to a different degree) and the new course is at the same level and is the same length as your previous course or shorter, there is no requirement for you to apply for a new Student Visa. However, the College is still required to inform the Home Office of the change so you will be asked to complete a Change of Study form. You should check if the new course requires you to hold ATAS clearance, as you will need to obtain this before you move to the new course.