Once you have completed your course you may be wondering how this affects your visa and what you are allowed to do with any remaining time left on it. Perhaps you'd like to spend some time relaxing in the UK, or invite family or friends to visit you, particularly if you will be attending your graduation ceremony soon. You may be interested in working in the UK or going on to a new course and need to know how to make further visa applications, or wondering whether you can stay on the basis of a relationship or the length of time you have already spent here. We hope you will find these FAQs a helpful starting point. If you are thinking of remaining longer in the UK to work, please read our information on working after your studies.
1. There is time left before my visa expires, will it remain valid?
When your student visa was granted, additional time was included which depends on the length of your course. If your course was 12 months or longer your Student permission end date, as shown on your Biometric Residence Permit or eVisa, should be 4 months after your course end date. If your course was between 6 and 12 months, the extra period should be 2 months. If you complete your course at the expected time, your student permission will remain valid until this expiry date, and you can use the extra time included to stay in the UK. For information on what happens if you complete your course early, see our information completion earlier than expected, and 3 below.
2. Will my course completion be reported to the Home Office?
The University now reports all degree completions for Student or Tier 4 visa holders so that if you want to apply for the Graduate route to remain in the UK for work you are able to do so, subject to meeting other requirements. Unless you completed your course unexpectedly early, this report will not lead to curtailment of your visa. For information about reporting normal completion for this purpose, see our information on the Graduate route.
3. What happens to my visa if I complete my course early?
The Confirmation of Acceptance for Study (CAS) you used to apply for your Student or Tier 4 visa included an 'expected completion date'. Your completion might be reported to the Home Office as being early if it occurs more than one month before the expected completion date on your CAS.
You have completed your course when you receive your official results, or for DPhil and other research students, when you receive 'leave to supplicate'. DPhil and other research students have standardised expected end dates reflecting the maximum amount of time allowed by the University to complete and submit work and to be examined and many students finish earlier than this. You will also be considered to be finishing early if your course is a 4 year undergraduate masters but you leave the course with a BA and do not proceed to your final year. If you complete more than a month before the expected end date on your CAS, the Student Visa Compliance team will contact you to let you know that they will be reporting this to the Home Office and what you can expect to happen with your visa.
What does curtailment mean? This is when the Home Office shortens your Student or Tier 4 permission to reflect your change of circumstances, including after early completion of your studies. The Home Office will contact you, normally by emailing you a letter, to let you know that they are going to curtail your visa. For courses of 12 months or more, the new shortened end date will normally be four months after the date of your early completion, and the letter gives you 60 days warning. You can continue to use your visa to remain in the UK until the new end date. However, if you leave the UK during the 60 day notice period or are away from the UK when the letter is issued, the cancellation takes effect straight away and you will not be able to return to the UK on your student or Tier 4 visa.
4. Can I work or run a business now that I have finished my course?
Until your Student or Tier 4 permission expires or is curtailed the work conditions attached to it will continue, and we explain these on our page, working during your studies. These work conditions include being able to work full time following completion of your course, though you are not normally allowed to take a permanent job.
Remember that while on a Student or Tier 4 visa you are prohibited from engaging in business or being self employed.
If you are considering staying longer in the UK to work, or to develop a business, our page after your studies has full information about the Graduate route and outlines other visa options for work and business.
5. Can I travel and come back to the UK?
You are able to travel out of and re-enter the UK while you still hold valid Student or Tier 4 visa permission , including in the period after you have completed studies. If you completed your course earlier than expected be mindful of possible curtailment - See 3 above.
On your return to the UK, if you are questioned at Border Control you might need to explain your plans for your remaining time, so that they are satisfied you will either be applying for another appropriate visa or leaving the UK again before your remaining permission expires.
6. What about my graduation ceremony?
If your graduation ceremony is scheduled to take place before your Student or Tier 4 visa expires, you can use your current visa to attend it. If it is scheduled for after your visa expiry date, and you are not applying for another visa to remain in the UK such as Graduate route or Skilled worker, you would need to return to the UK as a Standard Visitor. To find out whether you need to apply for a visa to come as a Standard Visitor, check on the Home Office website. Our page, Visitors, has further information on coming as a Standard Visitor including inviting guests for your graduation.
7. I am not applying for another visa, when must I leave the UK?
You must avoid becoming an overstayer, so if you are not applying for another visa, you need to leave the UK before your Student or Tier 4 permission has expired, meaning by the end date given on your Biometric Resident Permit or your eVisa. UKCISA's website has further information on the consequences of overstaying.
If your BRP has 31 December 2024 as the end date but your permission should be longer than this, you will be issued with an eVisa before this date.
8. I don't need a visa for short stays in the UK, doesn't this mean I can stay on after my visa expiry date?
No. Your status would not change automatically to that of visitor from within the UK, you would become an overstayer after your visa expiry date, and it is not possible to make a visa application as a visitor from within the UK. This means that even if you would be able to enter the UK as a visitor without a visa, you can't remain in the UK beyond your current permission date (unless you have a pending visa application for example for a work visa). Any overstaying is potentially illegal, affects your rights while in the UK and is likely to cause immigration problems in the future. UKCISA's website has further information on the consequences of overstaying.
9. I am going to do another course, can I apply for my next student visa while I am in the UK?
We explain the circumstances in which you can apply for your new student visa from within the UK on this page.
10. Can I stay in the UK on the basis of a relationship?
If the person with whom you are in a relationship has the right to live permanently in the UK, because they are a British citizen or have Indefinite Leave to Remain/Settled Status, or have Pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme in the UK, carefully read the information on the Home Office website to find out what an application involves, and get specialist advice if necessary.
If the person with whom you are in a relationship has other time-limited immigration permission in the UK, for example as a student or a worker, check the information for dependants on the Home Office pages for the status they have. For example if they have Student permission in the UK, the Home Office information for student dependants is here, and for the dependants of Skilled Workers it is here.
11. I have lived in the UK for many years, can I stay on this basis?
There is a provision for some people who have lived in the UK with valid immigration permission, in one or more visa categories for a full ten years, to apply for settled status in the UK. To find out if you might be eligible, first read the Home Office information on the 10 year long residence route very carefully and seek specialist advice if necessary.
12. What other visa applications could I potentially make?
13. What do I need to think about when preparing to leave the UK?
The UK Council for International Student Affairs has some useful information on both the practical and emotional aspects of preparing to return to your home country.
14. Do I need to tell the Home Office when I leave the UK or take any action to cancel my visa or return my BRP card?
You do not need to inform the UK Home Office that you are leaving the UK. You don't have to take steps to get a current UK visa cancelled before applying for another one; when granted, any new visa would replace a previous visa which would no longer be valid. There is no need to return an old BRP to the Home Office unless they ask you to do so, in which case follow any instructions and send it to the address provided.