Applying for a visa to the UK is not an easy process, so it’s no surprise that extending your visa can be as difficult. Some short visas don’t allow you to extend, such as the UK Visitor visa that’s issued for up to 6 months. But you can extend a student visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and pay the relevant fees.
Let’s look at how to extend your student visa and what your options are if you can’t.
Extending Your Student Visa in the UK
Some international students can extend their Student visas, formerly known as Tier 4 visas, if they meet certain eligibility requirements. To be eligible, you must:
- Currently be in the UK on a Student visa
- Have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) showing an unconditional offer of a place at a licensed sponsoring education institution
In most cases, you must also show you will be making “academic progress” and you will have to show you have sufficient finances to cover your living costs in the UK if your current student visa was issued for less than 6 months. This will need to be shown in your account for at least 28 consecutive days before your application.
If you have your family in the UK with you, they can also apply to extend their visas, but they must apply separately. According to the new Student visa regulations, only PhD students may bring their family members to the UK with them, however, if you started your course before 1 January 2024, this regulation should not affect you.
What Academic Progress Means
When applying to extend your UK Student visa, you might need to show you’re making academic progress to receive your visa extension. This means your new studies must be at a higher academic level than the course you’re currently studying. For example, if you are studying for an undergraduate degree at a UK institution, you cannot extend your visa to study for another undergraduate degree, but you may extend to further your studies at a Master’s level or doctorate.
However, there are exceptions to the academic progress regulation; you can still apply to extend your student visa:
- If your new course is at the same level but relevant to your previous course and intended to further your career
- If you’re extending your visa to resit exams or repeat course modules
- If the institute you’re currently studying at has lost its sponsorship licence
- If you need to extend your student visa to complete your current course
- If you need to extend your student visa because you have done or will do a relevant work placement or join a study abroad programme
When to Apply or Extend Your Student Visa
When applying to extend your student visa, you must apply before your visa expires, at most 3 months before your course starts and your course must start within 28 days of your current visa expiring. To complete the application you’ll need a letter detailing the offer from the recognised sponsoring institution known as a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), however, you must apply within 6 months of receiving this letter.
Applying to extend your visa can therefore be complicated as there are many restrictions on when you can apply, so make sure you know what date range you can and cannot apply so you don’t miss your deadline or apply too early. Getting the assistance of an immigration agency can help you with your application as they will know what dates you can apply and what documents you need for your application.
You’ll have to complete your application online and pay the application fee.
Student Visa Application Fees
The cost of extending your student visa is the same as when you first applied, £490. If your family members are also applying to extend their visas to stay with you, they will also have to pay this application fee with their applications. You and each dependent will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which will be calculated according to how long your visa will be given for.
The IHS enables you to use NHS services and is essential when coming to the UK for more than 6 months. Even if you have private medical insurance, you still have to pay the IHS and will not receive a refund if you don’t use it.
Your biometric photo and fingerprint will also be taken when extending your student visa, but you will not have to pay for this service.
The Home Office will respond to your application in up to 8 weeks and you can stay in the UK until you receive their decision. If you have had your visa refused, your rejection letter will say whether you can appeal their decision. If you can, you can stay in the UK until your appeal is reviewed and another decision is made.
You may travel around the UK during this time but you should not leave the country while your application is pending. You cannot travel to Ireland, however, you may travel to Northern Ireland.
Switching from a Student Visa to a Work Visa
If you are not eligible to extend your student visa or your application has been rejected, there are still some options for you to remain in the UK if you wish. One option for graduates is the Graduate visa which enables you to stay in the UK for around 24 months, in which time you can work and look for work. Finding work you can do as a foreign citizen in the UK is not easy with many restrictions on work permits, so getting a Graduate visa can be useful to extend your time in the UK to find work with an employer who can sponsor your work permit.
- A job offer for a position on the list of eligible occupations
- A job offer from an employer that has been approved to sponsor foreign workers
- A certificate of sponsorship providing information about your proposed employment including your salary which must meet the minimum salary requirement
Finding the right work can take time, but the government does have a list of approved sponsors which may make your job hunt easier. If you’re applying for a Student visa for the first time or extending your visa, you may benefit from working in a relevant field during your studies to make it easier to transition into work once you’ve graduated.
Working on a Student Visa
You can work while in the UK with a student visa, however, there are restrictions to the number of hours you can work.
At degree level, you may only work up to 20 hours per week during term time, but you may work full-time during official course breaks and in the time after you graduate before your visa expires. Full-time for people over 18 in the UK is no more than 48 hours per week. Students under 18 and studying below degree level will face different restrictions.
If you are caught working more hours than you are eligible to work, you may have your visa revoked and be asked to leave the UK.
Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions!
If you’re applying to study in the UK for the first time, or you’re in the UK and want help extending your visa, contact Synergy immigration Solutions! We have a team of immigration experts ready to help you get the right documents for your application and meet all of your deadlines so you have a better chance of success with your visa.