Withdrawals and Breaks in Study

Withdrawals and Breaks in Study

 If you are required to withdraw from your course, or take a break in your study, this may have immigration implications for you if you are subject to immigration control in the UK. The information below describes the various types of withdrawal or break in study. This information should be read carefully by students in order to be clear which type of withdrawal/break in study they will be taking. Please consult the Immigration Service if you have any further questions or queries about withdrawing or taking a break in study after reading the information on this webpage.

Keeping your contact details up to date:

It is extremely important that you always keep your contact details up to date with the Home Office AND the University so that you can receive any information regarding your immigration status. You can do this by submitting the information online at the Home Office website or by updating your contact details with the University. The Home Office is now issuing Curtailment Notices by email, as standard, so make sure that you have provided an email address of an account you check on a regular basis.

5 year cap:

Students should also be aware that periods of temporary withdrawal may not automatically be discounted from their 5-year student visa ‘allowance’, and should seek advice if they are concerned about this. For more information about the 5-year cap on degree level study, please click here.

Authorised absence

Authorised absence is where a postgraduate student is permitted by their Academic Department to take a total maximum of 6 weeks leave of absence in an academic year which should not require them to repeat any element of their course or extend their course end date. Acceptable reasons for taking a period of Authorised Absence would be to receive medical treatment, take maternity/paternity leave or for personal/financial difficulties. A PhD student may also request a period of Authorised Absence as a vacation. Any break in study of up to 6 weeks, which does not meet the definition of an ‘authorised absence’ will be recorded as a temporary withdrawal by Student Records and treated as such (i.e. reported to the Home Office). An authorised absence is not reported to the Home Office via the Sponsor Management System. In these instances the Tier 4 visa will not be curtailed and the student will not need to leave the UK during this period.

If the student fails to return to their studies on the agreed date of return, at that point the student will be temporarily withdrawn from their course and a report will be made to the Home Office informing them of this.




Early Completion

This will apply mostly to PhD students who successfully complete their course and have their degree conferred by Senate before the course end date on their CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies). As soon as the degree has been conferred, a report is made to the Home Office via the Sponsor Management System which will trigger the curtailment of the visa. The student will be notified by e-mail once the report has been made and they will be provided with information about what to do next. The student should leave the UK, or switch to another immigration category, within four months of the degree conferral date as, according to the Home Office Modernised Guidance on Curtailment, the usual four month ‘wrap up’ period granted to students on courses of 12 months or longer, or 2 months for students on courses of six months or more but less than 12 months, should be honoured by the Home Office.

The 2 or 4 month ‘wrap up’ period granted to students is intended to allow students to remain in the UK whilst they make the necessary arrangements to leave the country, or prepare to make an application to the Home Office to switch immigration category/educational sponsor. It is risky to attempt to re-enter the UK during this period as your course date will have passed and the purpose for re-entering will no longer match the purpose of the visa (i.e. to study).

Please remember to keep your contact details updated with the University AND the Home Office so that you will be able to receive any new information regarding your immigration status.

Change of Course (where the new course is shorter)

This will apply when a student changes course and the new course is shorter, or where the student chooses not to undertake an intercalated year where he or she was originally going to do so. At the point that the student record is updated to reflect the course change and new course end date, a report will be made to the Home Office via the Sponsor Management System which will trigger the eventual curtailment of the visa. The student will be notified by e-mail once the report has been made and they will be provided with information about what to do next. As in the case of early course completion, the visa will most probably be curtailed to 2 or 4 months from the new course end date (depending on the length of the course). The student should make sure that they check the new visa expiry date by asking the University Immigration Service to contact the Home Office on their behalf if they have not received a curtailment notification letter from the Home Office before their course end date has passed.

The 2 or 4 month ‘wrap up’ period granted to students is intended to allow students to remain in the UK whilst they make the necessary arrangements to leave the country, or prepare to make an application to the Home Office to switch immigration category. It is risky to attempt to re-enter the UK during this period as your course date will have passed and the purpose for re-entering will no longer match the purpose of the visa (i.e. to study).

In addition to the report which is made by the University to the Home Office, the Tier 4 Policy Guidance instructs that students should also email the Home Office to advise them of a course change where the course is shorter than the course the immigration permission was initially granted for. This email should include your full name, nationality, date of birth, passport number, CAS number as well as the new course end date. Students will receive an email from the Immigration Service confirming the report made to the Home Office via the Sponsor Management System. Students must make sure that the new course end date they report to the Home Office matches the end date that the University have reported and are, therefore, advised to wait for this before sending their own email to the Home Office at MigrantReporting@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. Keep the automatic reply as evidence that you have made the report.

Once you receive the Curtailment Notice with your new immigration permission expiry date, you can discard the automatic reply but please do bring this to the International Office to be scanned and your records updated.

Please remember to keep your contact details updated with the University AND the Home Office so that you will be able to receive any new information regarding your immigration status.

Change of Course (where the new course is the same length or longer)

If your course end date is extended beyond your current visa expiry date, you will need to extend your visa before your current visa expires (the UKVI advises you to do so sooner rather than later). It is possible for you to make this visa application within the UK, or you may choose to do so from your home country. Most importantly, you will need to prepare financial evidence (i.e., outstanding course fees for the current academic year or full course fees for the next academic year depending on when you apply, plus a maintenance fund of £1015 per month for the reminder of the course to a maximum of 9 months). You need to decide when is the most practical time for you to make this application. Whether you wish to make this application within or outside of the UK, you should read the information on our website about Applying for a Tier 4 visa, and request a CAS online within 3 months of your intended date to apply.

Where the new course is of the same length as the original course, you do not need to make a new visa application. Once the University has made a report to the UKVI regarding this change, you will receive an email notification and no further action is required.

Permanent Withdrawal

If a student chooses to withdraw permanently from their course, or is not permitted to continue their course by the University, at the point that their student record is updated to reflect this a report will be made to the Home Office via the Sponsor Management System. The student will be notified by e-mail once the report has been made and they will be provided with information about what to do next.

Following the report, the UKVI will take action to curtail (shorten) the student’s current visa in due course. The University understand that when curtailing a Tier 4 visa, the Home Office will normally give a student a ‘grace period’ of 60 days for the student to leave the UK or make another immigration application but this is not guaranteed (for example, a student reported as failing to enrol at the beginning of a new course is likely to have their visa curtailed with immediate effect).

Students who leave their course before completion need to be aware that as soon as they stop studying, their work permission stops with immediate effect, regardless of when their Tier 4 visa to be in the UK is curtailed.

Please remember to keep your contact details updated with the University AND the Home Office so that you will be able to receive any new information regarding your immigration status.

Temporary Withdrawal

If a student chooses to temporarily withdraw from their course, or is obliged to do so for any reason, at the point that their student record is updated to reflect this a report will be made to the Home Office via the Sponsor Management System. All temporary withdrawals result in a report being made to the Home Office by the University. The student will be notified by e-mail once the report has been made and they will be provided with information about what to do next.

Following the report, the UKVI will take action to curtail (shorten) the student’s current visa in due course. The University understand that when curtailing a Tier 4 visa, the Home Office will normally give a student a ‘grace period’ of 60 days for the student to leave the UK or make another immigration application but this is not guaranteed (for example, a student reported as failing to enrol at the beginning of a new course is likely to have their visa curtailed with immediate effect). Students are, therefore, advised to make plans to leave the UK, or switch to another immigration category/another Tier 4 sponsor, as soon as practically possible. If the student has already left the UK, curtailment would take immediate effect and so they should not try to return to the UK using their current visa.

Tier 4 students taking temporary withdrawal will be contacted about 2 months before the date they are due to resume studies by the Immigration Service team with advice about how to request a CAS and apply for a new Tier 4 visa. Students should not risk returning to the UK with their original Tier 4 visa even if they have not received notification of curtailment.

Students who take temporary withdrawal need to be aware that as soon as they stop studying, their work permission stops with immediate effect, regardless of when their Tier 4 visa to be in the UK is curtailed.

Where a student is unable to leave the UK for medical reasons, he or she should notify the Immigration Service of this. The student will then need to consult an immigration specialist regarding the options for remaining in the UK.The University will not be able to continue to sponsor the student in these circumstances.

The student may also wish to seek help and support from the University’s Student Support Services.

Please remember to keep your contact details updated with the University AND the Home Office so that you will be able to receive any new information regarding your immigration status.

Failure to enrol on (start) a course

If an individual has been issued with a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) by the University  but fails to enrol by the start date (or official latest start date) of the course of study, a report will be made via the Home Office Sponsor Management system and the Tier 4 visa is likely to be curtailed with immediate effect. In these cases the new expiry date of the visa is likely to be the date the curtailment action is taken by the Home Office which could be any day following the report made by the University. If the CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) has not been used at the point of non-enrolment, the CAS will be withdrawn by the University.

Students who fail to enrol on (start) a course are not entitled to work in the UK, regardless of when their Tier 4 visa to be in the UK is curtailed.

Please remember to keep your contact details updated with the University AND the Home Office so that you will be able to receive any new information regarding your immigration status.