Changes in student status | University of Oxford
Changes in student status
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Changes in student status

Suspension, deferral, withdrawal, course transfer and early course completion can all have an impact on your visa. If you stop studying you should seek advice and notify your employer immediately as your working entitlement could be affected. Changes to your studies may also affect the visas of any dependants you have in the UK and their permission to work here.

Suspension of studies

If you suspend your studies for personal or academic reasons then the Home Office would usually expect you to return to your home country unless you are not medically able to do so.

  • If you are suspending for maternity or paternity leave, email the Student Immigration team to check whether you can remain in the UK and find out how your Tier 4 Student visa will be affected.
  • If you hold a Tier 4 Student visa issued using a CAS number, the University is obliged to report your suspension to the Home Office who may cut your visa length short.

The University will always contact you by email to discuss any unusual circumstances before a report is made to the Home Office and in some cases a report may not be required. If a report is made to the Home Office, then you would need to leave the UK. When you are ready to return to resume your studies, you will need to apply for a new CAS number and student visa in your home country.

The University’s report to the Home Office and your visa curtailment will impact on your right to work in the UK as well as that of your Tier 4 Student dependants. If your suspension has been reported, you will therefore need to advise your employer that you have ceased studying.

If you would like advice before proceeding with your suspension, email Student Immigration outlining the length of time you intend to suspend and the reason for doing so.

Students who suspend their studies should be aware of the time limit on degree level studies in the UK. This limits the number of years students can spend studying at degree level in the UK on a student visa. Although the Home Office has suggested that “compelling and compassionate circumstances” will be taken into account when calculating the time limit, we cannot guarantee that any time spent on suspension would not be included in the time limit.

Withdrawing from your course

If you withdraw from a course then the University will need to inform the Home Office if you needed a CAS number to apply for your visa. The Student Immigration team will email you before making a report to the Home Office to discuss any unusual circumstances you may have, for example transferring to a different sponsor or visa type. If you have not moved to another Tier 4 sponsor or visa category, once our report to the Home Office is made, you will need to make arrangements to leave the UK before the date notified by the Home Office.

Lapsed status for graduate research students

If you are a graduate research student and your status lapses because you have not submitted on time or been granted an extension of time, there could be implications for your visa status. If you plan to resume your studies after a short break the University may be able to continue to sponsor you. If you are unlikely to resume your studies then we would need to notify the Home Office who would reduce your visa length. You would then be required to return home or find another visa status.

Transfer to another course

If you transfer to a different course at Oxford and you hold a Tier 4 Student visa issued with a CAS number, the University will need to inform the Home Office. Course changes can also have an impact on your Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance if you had to obtain one for your original course. If you have not had to apply for an ATAS certificate before, you should check if you now need to do so. You can find out more about ATAS on the Home Office website.

  • If your new course is shorter your visa length may be reduced. You will need to email the Home Office with your new course details. Student Immigration will also report the course change to the Home Office. If your immigration permission is cut short, the Home Office will inform you in writing.
  • If your new course is longer, then an application to extend your visa will need to be made before your current visa expires. Student Immigration will also report your course change to the Home Office. Although you can continue study on your existing visa until it expires, it is advisable to sort out your visa for the new course as soon as convenient.
  • If you have transferred to a course with the same length, although this may not have an impact on your visa duration, Student Immigration will still need to inform the Home Office of the change.

In all of the above cases, the Student Immigration team will contact you by email to advise you of the report being made to the Home Office regarding your course transfer.

Completion earlier than expected

If you obtained your latest student visa with a CAS number and you finish your studies earlier than the course end date stipulated on your CAS, Student Immigration will need to inform the Home Office of your early course completion. Depending on the amount of time left on your current visa, the Home Office may then decide to shorten your visa to 60 days. They will let you know in writing if they decide to do this. The University will contact you by email before reporting your early completion.

Unexpected absences

If you are going to be away from the University for an extended period of time, please inform your college administrator (for undergraduates or visiting students) or department administrator (for postgraduates or recognised students). The University monitors attendance throughout the year as part of our sponsor licence duties and we are required to inform the Home Office of any cases of long-term unexpected absence.

Deferring your course

If you have been issued with a CAS number and decide to defer the start of your course to the following year, you need to inform the Student Immigration team and your college or department as soon as possible. This is to ensure that we notify the Home Office that you will not be arriving.

If you have not applied for a visa yet, your current CAS number will be cancelled and you will need a new CAS number to apply for a visa in due course.

If you have obtained a visa using our CAS number and decide to defer, your deferral will be reported to the Home Office and you will not be able to use your visa to enter the UK. You will in this case need to obtain a new CAS number and apply for a new visa in good time before your new start date.

Visa refusals in the UK and overseas

If your student visa application is refused – either in the UK or overseas - you should notify your college or department immediately with a copy of the refusal notice. As part of the University’s Tier 4 responsibilities, we are required to report on the status of all issued CAS numbers. You will need to make a new application and your college or department will also be able to assist you with the issue of a new CAS number. If you do not understand the reasons for your refusal or would like help with your next application, then contact the Student Immigration team with a copy of your refusal notice.

Taking part in a study abroad, exchange programme, or fieldwork overseas

In most cases this should not affect your student visa, if you are still enrolled and return to the University to resume your studies after this period has finished. You must remain in contact with your department or college while away from the UK so that they can monitor your progress and attendance on your course overseas.

Re-sitting an examination

If you fail an examination in the summer and can re-take it again before the beginning of December you can remain in the UK to take the re-sit examination, and if necessary can extend your visa. If you fail an examination in the summer and cannot retake the examination (and hence continue your studies) until Hilary term, Trinity term or the next summer it will not be possible for you to remain in the UK. In most cases you will need to suspend your studies and return home.

If you hold a Tier 4 Student visa issued on the basis of a CAS number then the University will inform the Home Office who will curtail your visa. You will require a new CAS and student visa to return to the UK.

Students who have failed an examination and need to obtain a new Tier 4 Student visa for a re-take should be aware of the time limit on studies in the UK. The University cannot guarantee that you will be able to obtain a Tier 4 visa for your re-sit if you have already reached the time limit for studies. Although the Home Office has suggested that compelling and compassionate circumstances will be taken into account, there is no guarantee that time spent on suspension would be included in the time limit.

Re-submitting an assignment

If you need to re-submit an assignment, dissertation or thesis after the expiry date of your visa, your department or faculty will need to decide if your attendance in the UK is required until then. If you are required to be in the UK for study purposes, your department may issue you with a CAS allowing you to apply to extend your visa for the additional time required.