Academic Progression

UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) state that a student applying for a Tier 4 visa must be making academic progress from a course previously studied in the UK. The University of Sheffield will assess a student’s academic progress in conjunction with the rules and boundaries set by UKVI. A CAS can only be assigned if it will meet UKVI’s academic progression requirements. A visa application that does not meet UKVI’s academic progression criteria will be refused.

An academic progression statement has been a mandatory requirement on all CAS since 4 July 2011. The academic progression rules have changed a number of times since 10 August 2015. The academic progression rules can be complicated and restrictive. To find out if/how they will affect you, read the information below:

I am a new student applying to the University

•Academic progression does not affect you if you have never studied before in the UK with a Tier 4 visa. The University’s Admissions Service will confirm on your CAS that this is your first Tier 4 application.

•If you have previously studied in the UK with a Tier 4 visa and completed the course for which your Tier 4 visa was granted, academic progression will apply in the following ways:

1) If the course that you wish to study at the University is at a higher level than the one you previously completed (e.g. you are applying for a Masters after completing a Bachelors), you can demonstrate academic progression. The University’s Admissions Service will confirm this on your CAS.

2) If the course that you wish to study at the University is at the same level as the one you previously completed (e.g. you are applying for a second Masters), the University’s Admissions Service will assess whether the courses are related OR whether both courses combined will support your career goals. The Admissions Service will make this assessment after gathering information from you and your academic department. If you are contacted by the Admissions Service, you must respond with full and accurate information.

If the Admissions Service does not believe that the two courses are related or that together, they will support your career goals, you may exceptionally be assigned a CAS but only if you submit your visa application from outside the UK*. This is because UKVI’s rules regarding academic progression are different for visa applications made outside the UK. However, you should be aware that applications submitted outside the UK will still be investigated thoroughly by a UKVI caseworker and you may be invited to attend a credibility interview to discuss your intention to study in the UK -   

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas/credibility

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas                                                                                                                                                                                      

3) If the course that you wish to study at the University is at a lower level than the one you previously completed (e.g. you are applying for a Bachelors after completing a Masters), the University cannot assign a CAS to you. This is because UKVI does not deem study at a lower level to demonstrate academic progression.

• If you have previously studied in the UK with a Tier 4 visa but did not complete the course for which your Tier 4 visa was granted, the Admissions Service may exceptionally assign a CAS to you if it is decided that your reasons for study are valid. This assessment will be made after gathering information from you and your academic department. Your CAS will only be valid for a visa application made outside the UK*. This is because UKVI’s rules regarding academic progression are different for visa applications made outside the UK. However, you should be aware that applications submitted outside the UK will still be investigated thoroughly by a UKVI caseworker and you may invited to attend a credibility interview to discuss your intention to study in the UK -

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas/credibility

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas

I am a taught student and need to extend my visa for re-sits / repeats

• If you remain registered on the course for which your current Tier 4 visa was granted and either need to apply for a visa extension before you complete your re-sits/repeats or after you have completed your re-sits/repeats, academic progression does not apply. You can remain in the UK, if you wish, to apply for a visa extension.

• If you have changed programme from the one for which your current Tier 4 visa was granted and now need to extend your visa either before or after re-sits/repeats for your new course, academic progression does not apply. You can remain in the UK, if you wish, to apply for a visa extension. You must, however, include with your visa application a transcript to demonstrate that the re-sits/repeats you have undertaken relate to your new course. Your CAS will confirm that you must submit the transcript.

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/uk                                                                                                                                                                                                    

I am a taught student and need to extend my visa to incorporate a year abroad / year in industry / work placement

• If you remain registered on the course for which your current Tier 4 visa was granted and need additional time to undertake a year abroad / year in industry / work placement, you will need to leave the UK and apply for a new Tier 4 visa in your home country*.  Applications submitted outside the UK will be investigated thoroughly by a UKVI caseworker and you may be invited to attend a credibility interview to discuss your intention to study in the UK -                                                                                        

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas/credibility

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas

The University of Sheffield is working hard to inform UKVI of the problem that this immigration rule may cause for students and to highlight the importance and value of a year abroad / year in industry / work placement.

I am a taught student and have changed programme

•Before a change of programme request is approved, your academic department will make an academic progression assessment. Your department must confirm that your old and new courses are related OR that both courses combined will support your career goals. If your academic department can confirm this, the change of programme can be approved. If your academic department cannot confirm this, further enquiries will be made. Your academic department may need to speak to you when making their assessment. If you are contacted, you must respond with full and accurate information.

•If your change of programme was approved before UKVI amended their regulations in August 2015, an academic progression assessment will be made retrospectively in the event that you need to extend your visa.

•If the duration of your visa is not long enough for you to complete your new programme, academic progression affects a visa extension in the following ways:

•If you have changed programme at the same level (e.g. BA to BA) and meet the academic progression requirements outlined above, the University can assign a CAS to you but only if you leave the UK and apply for a visa from overseas*. This is because UKVI’s rules regarding academic progression are different for visa applications made outside the UK. However, you should be aware that applications submitted outside the UK will still be investigated thoroughly by a UKVI caseworker and you may be invited to attend a credibility interview to discuss your intention to study in the UK -                                                                     

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas/credibility

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas

•If you have changed programme to a higher level and meet the academic progression requirements outlined above, the University can assign a CAS to you but only if you leave the UK and apply for a visa from overseas*. This is because UKVI’s rules regarding academic progression are different for visa applications made outside the UK. However, you should be aware that applications submitted outside the UK will still be investigated thoroughly by a UKVI caseworker and you may be invited to attend a credibility interview to discuss your intention to study in the UK -                                                                   

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas/credibility

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas

•If you have changed programme to a lower level contact International Student Support for further advice: www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/email

I am a taught student on an integrated Masters programme

•If you are progressing from the lower to the higher level of an integrated Masters programme, academic progression does not apply. You can remain in the UK, if you wish, to apply for a visa extension –

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/uk 

However, if your course title changes when moving to the higher level of an integrated Masters course and there are any other changes, as well as the exit qualification, an application inside the UK is not without risk. The guidance relating to this scenario is not clear and so far we have not submitted an application inside the UK for a student in this situation. If you are progressing from the lower to the higher level of an integrated Masters and there are course changes in addition to the exit qualification and you wish to apply inside the UK, we will issue a CAS for you but the application has to be made at your own risk. We will review our policy should a visa application for a student in this situation be refused.

I am a research student and need to extend my visa to complete my PhD

•If you remain registered on the course for which your current Tier 4 visa was granted and need to apply for a visa extension to complete your PhD, academic progression does not apply. You can remain in the UK, if you wish, to apply for a visa extension –

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/uk

I am a research student and need to extend my visa to complete my MPhil

•UKVI regulations do not allow you to remain in the UK and extend your visa. You must submit your visa application from overseas -

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas

I am a research student and have changed PhD programme

• Before a change of candidature request is approved, your academic department will make an academic progression assessment. Your department must confirm that your old and new programmes are related OR that both programmes combined will support your career goals. If your academic department can confirm this, the change of candidature can be approved. If your academic department cannot confirm this, further enquiries will be made. Your academic department may need to speak to you when making their assessment. If you are contacted, you must respond with full and accurate information.

• If your change of candidature was approved before UKVI amended their regulations in August 2015, an academic progression assessment will be made retrospectively in the event that you need to extend your visa.

•If you need to extend your visa to complete your new PhD and meet the academic progression requirements outlined above, the University can assign a CAS to you but only if you leave the UK and apply for a visa from overseas*. This is because UKVI’s rules regarding academic progression are different for visa applications made outside the UK. However, you should be aware that applications submitted outside the UK will still be investigated thoroughly by a UKVI caseworker and you may be invited to attend a credibility interview to discuss your intention to study in the UK -                                                                   

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas/credibility

www.sheffield.ac.uk/ssid/international/immigration/overseas

I am a research student and have been downgraded from a PhD to a MPhil

•You must obtain a new visa from overseas before you can register on the MPhil. When the downgrade is processed, you will be emailed immigration advice.

*For a new CAS to be issued - once you have left the UK, please send scanned copies of your boarding pass and your entry stamp to your home country in your passport (if you get one) to International Student Support.

December 2016