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Your Tier 4 Visa


Your Tier 4 Visa The University of Exeter is committed to providing advice and support to all of our international students to ensure that you understand the UK Tier 4 visa system. As a Tier 4 visa holder, there are a number of rules that you need to be aware of to ensure that you maintain your Tier 4 status throughout your studies at the University of Exeter. The University also has a responsibility to maintain its Tier 4 Sponsor License holder status by following the guidance laid down by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). From the time you are issued with a CAS until the time that you graduate, the University acts as your Tier 4 sponsor. The information in this guide is intended to show how you and the University work together to protect your Tier 4 status. If you need further information on any of the topics covered here, please contact us – we have an experienced team of International Student Advisers who can provide you with expert advice about your Tier 4 visa.

Contents 1.Registration and your Personal Details 2. Police Registration 3. Attendance 4. Working During your Studies 5. Interruptions of Study 6. Changing Programme 7. Re-taking Exams or Modules 8. Research Students – Fieldwork, Writing Up and Viva 9. Withdrawing Immigration Sponsorship 10. Sources of Advice and Support


1.

Registration, Record Keeping and Contact Details Registration An important condition of your Tier 4 visa is that you register, and remain registered, on your programme of study. At the beginning of your programme you will need to come to International Student Clearance and show us your passport, Tier 4 visa and qualifications documents before you can register. Once you have done this you will be able to complete the University’s online registration process, which you can access through iExeter. In each subsequent year of study you will need to make sure you complete the online registration process at the beginning of each academic year. Passports and BRPs The University is required to keep a copy of your passport and current visa, which will usually be in the form of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). We will not share this information with anyone else (other than the Home Office) unless you give us your permission to do so. If you get a new passport or visa during your studies, either because they expire or because you lose them and get a replacement, you must bring these to us so that we can take a copy. If you have a new passport or visa you need to show us during the year, please bring this to the Innovation Centre Reception (Exeter) or the PIP Desk in the Peter Lanyon Building (Cornwall). Check our website for information on what to do if your BRP or passport is lost or stolen.


1. Registration, Record Keeping and Contact Details

Visa Validity It is extremely important to ensure that your visa remains valid throughout your period of study. At the start of your course, you should be given a Tier 4 visa which covers the duration of your studies plus some wrap up time. If you think the dates on your visa are incorrect, please contact us. If you require extra time to finish your programme you will need to apply for a new Tier 4 before your current visa expires. We will send you a reminder 3 months before your visa is due to expire if you are still studying. If you do need to extend your visa for any reason, International Student Support will issue you with a new CAS and can also check your application and supporting documents. Contact Details Another Tier 4 requirement is that you make sure that the University always has up to date contact details for you. When you register at the University you will be required to provide a contact address, but please ensure you inform us of any changes to this. You can do this via iExeter. Withdrawing or Completing Early If you withdraw from your programme, or complete your studies early, the University is required to withdraw immigration sponsorship. This will lead to your Tier 4 visa being cancelled. We will always contact you if we are required to withdraw immigration sponsorship and provide instructions on how this will affect your visa.


2.

Police Registration

If you are studying for more than 6 months and from one of the countries listed on our website, you are required to register with the police within 7 days of arrival in the UK as a condition of your visa. The police registration condition will be noted on your 30 day entry clearance vignette (visa sticker) or your Home Office decision letter. It is important that you arrange to register as soon as possible. It is an offence not to register and failure to register could have future immigration implications. If your visa does not mention police registration and you are on the list of nationals who should expect to register, please speak to an International Student Adviser who can advise you further. There are special arrangements during Freshers’ Week where the police will come on to campus (Streatham and Penryn) to register students. Details of when this will take place are included in the International Welcome Programme. Where to Register At any other time you should go directly to the Exeter Police Enquiry Office or Truro Police Enquiry Office if are a Penryn student to register and to collect your registration certificate. What to Take With You Whether you register on campus or at the Police Station you will need to bring the following original documents: • completed application form (download form no.67 from here) • confirmation letter showing that you are a registered student (you can get this from the SID Desk in the Forum or the PIP desk in Penryn) • Your passport, plus photocopy • Your visa, plus photocopy • 1 passport size photograph • £34 pounds in cash (exact money please) to cover the administration fee Your Police Registration Certificate will be ready about 2-3 weeks later, please make sure you collect it promptly.


2. Police Registration Updating your Certificate Once you have registered you must make sure you keep your certificate up to date. If you move house, extend your visa or change name, you should report these changes to the police and they will normally update your certificate within the hour at no extra cost. The Police registration condition is usually noted on your Home Office decision letter and not your BRP card so you will need to keep this letter safe as you may be asked to take it to the police station with you. Lost or Stolen Certificates Make sure that you’ve looked in all the usual places before notifying the police. If the certificate is lost then you can report this on www.reportmyloss.com. For stolen certificates, visit your local police station and let them know what has happened. You will then need to submit a new registration form and pay the £34 fee again.


3.

Attendance

An important condition of your Tier 4 visa is that you maintain regular attendance on your programme of study and fulfil the academic requirements of your programme. This requirement is also laid out in the University regulations. UKVI require the University to monitor attendance of all Tier 4 students. Poor attendance or failure to engage with your programme could lead to you being withdrawn from the University and your Tier 4 visa being curtailed. You will always receive emails notifying you if your attendance is not satisfactory. If you receive one of these emails is it is important that you read the information in it carefully and follow the advice given in the email. This will include sources of advice and support for you to access if you are experiencing any difficulties which are affecting your ability to attend regularly. If you do have any health or personal problems which are impacting upon your studies it is important that you make the University aware of these so that you can be offered appropriate support. Contact your local Info Point for further advice. The way in which your attendance is monitored will differ depending on your level of study.


Undergraduate and Taught Postgraduate (Masters) Students The attendance of all students at all timetabled teaching sessions is monitored through the University’s Digital Check In system. You can register your attendance at each session through the iExeter app, which can be downloaded onto your phone, tablet or laptop. It is important that you check in at the beginning of each session that you attend. If for any reason you are unable to do this you should inform your local Info Point. Engagement with your programme through coursework submission and exam attendance is also monitored. There will of course be times when you have to miss a teaching event due to, for example, illness. If you are going to be absent you should make sure that you report this through the absence reporting tool in iExeter. As the University continues to act as Tier 4 sponsor during periods of study abroad or industrial placement we are also required to continue monitoring your attendance during this time. Please make sure you maintain good attendance while you are studying overseas or are on industrial placement, and also respond to emails from your placement coordinator. Postgraduate Research Students Attendance of postgraduate research students is monitored through the monthly supervisor contacts in MyPGR. Please make sure that you submit these each month as soon as possible after the meeting with your supervisor has occurred.


4.

Working During your Studies

Most Tier 4 students are allowed to supplement their funds or gain work experience by working part-time while they study. Tier 4 students studying at degree level are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time, and full-time during vacations (further information below), but you should check your BRP to make sure that this is what you have been granted. Although legally you can work up to 20 hours, the University strongly advises that undergraduate and taught postgraduate students work no more than 15 hours per week during term time, as extra work may adversely affect your studies. Postgraduate research students should be aware of the advisory limits on the number of hours of work they undertake, outlined in the University’s Employment of postgraduate students: Code of Good Practice. If you are studying a programme which contains a work placement element then you can do this full-time with your Tier 4 visa. The University is still required to monitor your attendance on this part of your programme. Tier 4 Work Restrictions The 20 hour per week limit applies to both voluntary and paid work. You should also be aware of the following Tier 4 work prohibitions: • You cannot be self-employed or engage in business activity • You cannot fill a full-time permanent vacancy. • You must not be employed as an entertainer or professional sports person (including coach). Further information on what constitutes self- employment can be found on the gov.uk website. The Tier 4 Policy Guidance provides some examples of what would be considered to be engaging in business activity.


4. Working During your Studies

Vacation Periods The vacation period in which you can work full-time is defined differently, depending on the level at which you are studying: • Undergraduate Students – the 20 hour work limit applies during the standard University term dates. Full time work permitted outside of standard University term dates, and after your last term at the University until the date your visa expires. • Postgraduate Taught (Masters) Students – the 20 hour work limit applies during the standard University term dates. If you are studying on a standard 12 month Masters programme, the 20 hour limit also applies during the summer vacation period, when you are writing your dissertation. Full-time work is then permitted from your dissertation submission deadline until the date your visa expires.


4. Working During your Studies

• Postgraduate Research Students – the 20 hour limit applies throughout your programme. Full-time work is only permitted after the final submission of your thesis (after any required revisions and corrections have been completed and approved, and your thesis has been finally submitted). When you start a new job, your employer will ask you for a letter from the University confirming your term dates. You can obtain this letter from the Student Information Desk.


5.

Interruptions of Study

One of the conditions of your Tier 4 visa is that you are registered on your programme and studying while you are in the UK. If you take an interruption of studies the University is therefore required to report this to UKVI and withdraw sponsorship of your Tier 4 visa. We will send you an email when we have done this. UKVI will curtail your visa and you will be required to leave the UK or submit an alternative visa application within 60 days of the date of the report. When you wish to return from interruption, the University will issue you with a new CAS to apply for a new Tier 4 visa. There are certain circumstances in which the University will not withdraw its sponsorship of your visa during a period of interruption, which are: • Your period of interruption is 60 days or less, and you provide your College with clear reasons why an interruption is required. This request must be approved by your College. • You can take a maximum of four months of interruption during your course without the University withdrawing immigration sponsorship, but no one period of interruption can be for more than 2 months. You must always return to your studies for at least 2 months between periods of interruption. • In exceptional circumstances, the University will continue sponsorship during a period of interruption of more than 2 months. This will only be in cases where there is clear proof that you cannot return to your home country. This would normally be due to serious ill health. If you submit a request for an interruption which will lead to the University withdrawing its sponsorship of your Tier 4 visa, you will be advised of this before the interruption is approved.


5. Interruptions of Study If the University continues to sponsor your visa during a period of interruption, you can remain in the UK and your Tier 4 visa will continue to be valid. You should however be aware of the following: • The restrictions on work that apply during term time also apply during a period of interruption. So, if your visa allows you to work up to 20 hours per week during term time and you choose to remain in the UK during a period of interruption, you must not work more than 20 hours per week. • If the University continues to sponsor you during a period of interruption we are required to maintain contact with you during this period. You must respond to all contacts (usually by email) from the University while you are on interruption. • UKVI puts a cap on the number of years that Tier 4 students are able to stay in the UK. Students studying at degree level can study for up to 5 years. Postgraduate research students can study for longer. Periods of interruption are included in this calculation. When you return from a period of interruption of more than 60 days we will need see your visa before you can re-register.


6.

Changing Programme

If you are a Tier 4 visa holder, there are certain requirements you must meet before being permitted to change your programme of study and remain on your current visa. If you wish to change your programme of study and your current Tier 4 visa was granted before April 2016 or your new course: • has the same mode of attendance and • is within the same subject area and • is at the same level and • you can finish your new course within the validity of your current visa Then you should be able to change your programme without first needing to apply for a new visa. If your request does not meet these requirements, you may have to leave the UK in order to apply for a new Tier 4 visa for your new course. If your new course is shorter than your previous one the University will report this change of end date to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). You will not need to get a new visa, but you should be aware that your visa validity will be reduced to reflect the new end date. In certain situations, the rules on changing programme are applied differently: • Adding a year of industrial placement/study abroad - you will need to apply for new (longer) visa but can do this at any time before or after your period of industrial placement or study abroad. • Integrated Master students - you will need to apply for a new (longer) visa before changing from Bachelors to Masters (eg BEng to Meng), but you can do this in the UK


6. Changing Programme

Students with Visas issued before April 2016 If your visa was issued before April 2016 you will normally be able to transfer programme without first applying for a new visa. If you need a longer visa as a result of this transfer however you will need to return to your home country at some point to apply for this. How to change programme You will need to submit a Change of Programme form through your College or supervisor. Make sure you follow the correct process depending on your level of study: Taught programmes Research programmes When you submit a change of programme request that will require you to get a new visa, we will contact you with advice particular to your situation. We would also recommend that you speak to your personal tutor or programme leaders for academic advice and guidance


7.

Retaking Exams or modules

Mitigation Exam attendance and coursework submission are an essential component of most programmes. If you are unable to attend an exam or complete your coursework for any reason, medical or otherwise, you should let your Info Point know as soon as possible. They will advise you on the process of applying for mitigation. If you are unable to do this yourself, you may need to ask someone to do so on your behalf. More information about the support available through this process can be found here. Resitting without attendance If you do not pass sufficient credits to progress to your next year of study, you will be required to retake the assessments that you have not passed. Exams can only be retaken at fixed periods and if you are not required to attend until the examination period, you will be deemed to be resitting without attendance. As you are not required to attend the University is required to withdraw immigration sponsorship during this period. This will mean that your visa is curtailed and you are required to leave the UK. We will issue you with a new CAS number closer to the resit period and you will need to apply for a new Tier 4 visa to return for your exams and complete the remainder of your course. We will contact you to advise you on this process.


7. Retaking Exams or modules Resitting with attendance Sometimes students are required to repeat a module, multiple modules or an entire year and this will have an impact on your Tier 4 visa. If you have to repeat term 1+2, or an entire year, you will need to extend your current visa to cover this additional period. It would be best to make an appointment with us at least two months before your current visa expires to help you start preparing for this. If you have to repeat term 1 only you will not be required to attend the remainder of the year. The university will report this to UKVI and your visa will be curtailed. You will need to leave the UK after term 1 and will need to apply for a new visa in order to return for the following year. We will be able to issue you a CAS number in July to return for the next year (or earlier if you need to return for a summer exam). If you have to repeat term 2 the university will inform UKVI that you are not required in attendance in Term 1. Your visa will be shortened to 60 days from the day we report this (you will be informed by email when the report is made) and will need to leave the UK before the end of this 60 day period. You will need to apply for a new visa in order to return for term 2. We will be able to issue you a new CAS number in November. Advice and support The Guild Advice Unit (Exeter) or FXU Advice Service (Cornwall) offers advice on the University’s academic regulations. If you need advice about the implications for your visa contact us.


8.

Study and Research Overseas

As part of your programme you may be required to spend time overseas studying or conducting research. In most cases the University will continue to sponsor your Tier 4 visa during this time so that you can use the same visa when you return to the UK. For this to happen however, it is important that you continue to engage with your programme while you are overseas by maintaining contact with your supervisor or Study Abroad team. Research Students If you need to spend a period outside the UK conducting field work you should inform your PGR support team and ask them to provide you with a travel letter. This will confirm that you are authorised to spend time outside the UK and can be shown to UK immigration when coming back into the country if necessary. If you will be outside the UK for more than 3 months we will also inform UKVI of your temporary change of location, making it clear to them that we will continue to sponsor your Tier 4 visa during your absence. As the University will continue to provide Tier 4 sponsorship while you are overseas, you will need to ensure that you continue to demonstrate that you are engaging with your programme. You will therefore need to make sure that you maintain monthly contact with your supervisor through MyPGR. Undergraduate and Masters Students If your programme includes a period of time studying at an overseas institution, the University will continue its sponsorship of your visa during this period. You need to make sure however that you respond to any emails or contacts from the University (usually your college’s Student Abroad team) while you are overseas.


9.

Withdrawing Immigration Sponsorship

From the time that you apply for your Tier 4 visa until the time you finish your studies, the University of Exeter acts as your Tier 4 sponsor. When we issue you with a CAS we are confirming to UKVI that we have offered you a place to study at Exeter and we wish to act as your Tier 4 sponsor. We continue to sponsor you throughout your studies, as long as you maintain regular attendance. There are certain circumstances in which we are required to withdraw immigration sponsorship. These are: • You are required to withdraw from your programme (this could be due to academic failure, unsatisfactory attendance or for disciplinary reasons) • Your choose to withdraw from your programme • You complete your programme earlier than the end date stated on your CAS • You take an interruption of study • You are required to re-sit without attendance • You fail to register at the beginning of the academic year • You move to a different immigration category (e.g. Tier 2 or dependant) If we are required to withdraw immigration sponsorship, we will always contact you to let you know that we have done this, and to advise you on what you need to do. If you have the right to make an academic appeal we will always wait until this process is finished before we withdraw immigration sponsorship. If we withdraw sponsorship of your Tier 4 visa, UKVI will curtail your visa. This means that the end date will be shortened to reflect the fact that you are no longer studying. You will need to leave the UK or submit a new visa application within 60 days of the date that we withdraw immigration sponsorship. UKVI should always contact you by email to confirm that they have curtailed your visa and to inform you of your new visa expiry date. Once your visa has been curtailed you should not leave the UK and attempt to re-enter, as your visa will be deemed to have expired at the point you leave the UK.


10.

Sources of Advice and Support

You can find lots of information about Tier 4 visas on our website, but if you need further information, or want to talk to someone about any issue related to your visa, please contact us. The University has an expert team of International Student Advisers who are here to help you. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) also cover a wide range of student immigration topics on their website.


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Your Tier 4 Visa  

The University of Exeter is committed to providing advice and support to all of our international students to ensure that you understand the...

Your Tier 4 Visa  

The University of Exeter is committed to providing advice and support to all of our international students to ensure that you understand the...