Tier 4 Time Limits

Students on a Tier 4 Student visa will face time limits on how long they can spend in the UK depending on their level of study.

Five Year Time Limit to Study

Where you are studying a course at degree level or above, you can spend a maximum of five years in the UK as a Tier 4 student.

You must ensure any new course or extension does not take you over your time limit. You cannot be issued a CAS to extend your Tier 4 Visa if this will take you over the time limit.

You are exempt from the time limit if you:

  • are applying for or studying a PhD, postgraduate research qualification or Research Masters Degree
  • are undertaking a course in architecture, dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine and science or music as a conservatoire
  • successfully completed a four year or five year undergraduate degree and are applying to study a Masters degree (the limit is six years)
  • have completed a UK degree and are applying to complete a law conversion course, a Legal Practice Course or the Bar Professional Training Course

Where you are in your fifth academic year (of sixth year if the six year rule applies to you) when the time limit would stop you completing your course, then the time limit is extended by 11 months.

Eight Year Time Limit to Study

You are exempt from the time limit if you:

  • are on the Doctorate Extension Scheme
  • are currently studying for a PhD or research masters course
  • have studied a postgraduate research qualification or research Masters course at RQF Level 7 (e.g. MPhil) which was for 13 months or less

Once you complete your PhD or research masters course you are subject to an eight year time limit to study in the UK. Any new course you study after this must not result in you having spent more than eight years in total on Tier 4.

How the Time Limit is Calculated

The time limit is calculated based on the length of your visa and not the length of your course. This includes the additional time on your visa at the start and end of your course.

Both the Home Office and the University round individual days or weeks to the nearest month, for example three months and ten days is rounded down to three months while three months and three weeks is rounded up to four months.

Times spent on vacation, outside the UK, not studying, or on a different level course are all included.