Immigration and Student Visas

Immigration and Student Visas

Right to Study Checks for all new international and EU students (including PhD students) starting in January 2024

All students commencing a new study programme in January 2024 are required to demonstrate they hold the right to study in the UK.  

Please note that students joining a Postgraduate Taught degree who have used CAS Shield, should upload all the required documents to CAS Shield before attending an in-person Right to Study check. You are not required to complete an online form below.

As a first step, to show you hold a right to study, please complete the online Right to Study form after you have arrived in the UK and after you have set up your University IT account.  You should use your University email address when you complete the online Right to Study form. 

There are different forms depending on the type of visa status you hold.  Please read the list below and follow the instructions for your visa type: 

I hold a Student/Tier 4 visa or I have applied for one

Applicable to: New Students coming to study at the University of Aberdeen after completing study at the International Study Centre (ISC), Students that have recently completed or are coming to study a Pre-Sessional English Programme and new students on Research degrees
 

You are invited to register for your in-person Right to Study Check by completing the online Right to Study formPlease complete this online form after you have arrived in the UK.

New students coming to study at the University of Aberdeen after completing study at the International Study Centre (ISC), Students that have recently completed or are coming to study a Pre-Sessional English Programme and new students on Research degrees, who are Student/Tier 4 visa holders must complete an online form AND attend an in-person Right to Study check on campus.  Information about the in-person check will be sent to your university email address after you have submitted the online Right to Study form.

Both the online form and the in-person Right to Study check must be completed before the latest start date for your study programme.  The latest start date is noted on your Certificate of Acceptance (CAS letter).  If you do not complete all these steps on time, sponsorship of your visa may be at risk. Please note that your access to MyAberdeen will be blocked if you fail to complete your Right to Study Check before the registration deadline of your programme.

Student Visa holders must attend face-to-face learning/teaching on Campus and should live at a term-time address in Aberdeen, or in the local area within a reasonable commuting distance.  If your term-time living address is not within the local Aberdeen area, you may not be permitted to register. 

Please refer to the Immigration and Student Visa webpages for further information about your responsibilities as a Student Visa/Tier 4 visa holder.

I hold a Standard Visitor visa/ I requested entry as a Visitor on arrival to the UK

Please confirm your Right to Study by completing the online Right to Study form after you have arrived in the UK.

You must complete the online Right to Study form and register fully before the latest start date for your study programme. 

If you are a visa national, you should apply for a Visitor Visa before you enter the UK.  When you enter the UK and go through the passport control area, the border official will stamp the entry clearance vignette in your passport with an ink stamp to record the date you entered the UK.  You will be asked to upload a copy of your vignette with the date of entry stamp along with a copy of the personal data page from your passport.

If you are a non-visa national and you plan to enter the UK to study for a maximum of 6 months without first applying for a visa, you may receive a stamp in your passport from an Immigration Officer on arrival into the UK airport, and you should provide an image of this stamp when you complete the online form. Check whether the country you are a citizen of (the passport you are travelling on) appears on the Visa National List here.  

Certain nationalities can use the eGates and will not be given any stamp.  In this situation you should provide proof of flight details/boarding pass showing the date of arrival in the UK, when you complete the form.

Holders of Standard Visitor visas do not need to attend an in-person check.

I hold EU Settled/Pre-Settled Status

Please confirm your Right to Study by completing the online Right to Study form.

You must complete the online Right to Study form and register fully before the latest start date for your study programme. 

Students with EU Settled/Pre-Settled Status are not required to attend an in-person check.

I hold a non-Tier 4/non-Student Visa (eg Dependent, Skilled Worker, Indefinite Leave to Remain, Asylum Seeker, Refugee Status etc)

Please confirm your Right to Study by completing the online Right to Study form.

You must complete the online Right to Study form and register fully before the latest start date for your study programme.

You do not need to attend an in-person check.

Information on Visas

EU/EEA/Swiss Students

Proving your right to live, work and study in the UK if you are an EU/EEA/Swiss National

If you an EU/EEA/Swiss national and have:

  • applied to or received settled or pre-settled status, or
  • applied for your UK visa via the ID Check app, or
  • visited a visa application centre or service and support centre as part of your UK visa application,

you may be unsure of how you can prove your right to live, work or study in the UK. UKVI have created a useful guide on how you can prove these rights by using the online view and prove service.

Guidance on Covid-19 related absences from the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme
If you have been granted pre-settled status, you can find the latest guidance on permitted absences here.

Guidance on Applying for a Student Visa for EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals
If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national and are applying for your student visa from outside of the UK, please see this guide.

Student Visa (Formerly known as Tier 4)

There are some situations that may need you to extend your existing Student visa as you need more time in the UK to complete your programme. You may also change programme in such a way that you are required to get a new visa before you can continue on your new degree, for example if you are upgrading to the MEng.

How you approach getting a new visa will depend on your level of study, and more information can be found below for Postgraduate Research Students and those on a Taught Programme.

Our general guide gives you more details on how the Student Visa application process works. If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national and are applying for your student visa from outside of the UK, please see this guide.

Postgraduate Research Students

If you require extra time in the UK to complete your research and write your thesis you must ensure that you have your studies extended academically before trying to get a visa extension. You should have your academic extension approved and confirmed at least 3 months before your visa is due to expire. You can get more information on extending your studies by speaking with your Supervisor or School office.

Please note that if your topic of research requires ATAS clearance and you are extending your submission date by 3 or more months or if you are changing your research topic, you will need to apply for and receive your ATAS certificate before your study extension can be processed by the Registry Team. More details on ATAS can be found on the Gov.UK website.

Once you have your study extension approved and this has been confirmed by Registry you can look at extending your Student visa. Please get in touch with the International Student Adviser approximately 3 months prior to your visa expiry date by contacting

Taught Students

If you make a change to your studies, or a change is made due to academic issues, you may need to get a new Student visa before you can study on your new path of study. This could happen if:

Where a situation like this arises you should contact the Student Immigration Compliance Team to assess if a new visa is required as soon as possible. If your study change does require new visa sponsorship, you may need to return to your home country to submit a new visa application before you can return to the UK to continue your studies. This means you may be restricted as to when such changes to your studies can be made.

Once you have your change approved by the Student Immigration Compliance Team, and this has been confirmed by the Registry team, we can look at extending or altering your Student visa.

Responsibilities of Being a Student Visa Holder (Formerly known as Tier 4)

Responsibilities of being a Student/Tier 4 Visa Holder

Your Student/Tier 4 visa permits you to live in the UK and study on-campus at the University of Aberdeen. To retain your visa throughout the duration of your studies, there are several responsibilities that you must follow in order to protect your visa status.

Ultimately, your Student/Tier 4 visa is your responsibility, so please make sure you understand the requirements and get in touch if you have any concerns or queries.

Student Visa Responsibilities

  • Student/Tier 4 visa holders are subject to immigration restrictions.  You must complete all parts of Registration and complete a Right to Study/Visa Check before the latest start date given on your CAS or Certificate of Acceptance.  The University is required to end sponsorship of your visa if you fail to do so.
     
  • Continuing students, who hold a Student/Tier 4 visa must also complete Registration and a Right to Study/Visa Check at the start of each new academic year (September).  If you have outstanding debt this may prevent Registration.  If you cannot complete Registration because of outstanding academic debt or because you are not permitted to progress academically, the University is required to end sponsorship of your visa.
     
  • You must attend a visa check or provide copies of your immigration documents when requested by a member of staff.  You may be invited to attend a visa check at any point during the academic year.  Notification will be sent to your University email account.  Immigration documents usually include, but are not limited to: current passport, entry clearance visa, proof of entry to the UK, Biometric Residence Permit [BRP] or unique share code and ATAS certificate.  If you update any of these documents, you must send a copy to the Student Immigration Compliance Team
     
  • You must live within the local Aberdeen area as you are required to attend your studies in-person for the duration of your programme.  The University is required to end sponsorship of your visa if you fail to do so.
     
  • You must keep your contact details up-to-date via the Student Hub. This includes your term-time address and UK mobile phone number, if you have one.  The University may withdraw sponsorship of your visa if you fail to keep your address and contact details up to date.
     
  • You must check your University email account at least once per week. This is the main contact method that staff from across the University will use to get in touch with you, including the Student Immigration Compliance Team.
     
  • You must fully engage with your studies by attending all required classes, meeting with your supervisor and/or signing in as requested by your School.  You should respond promptly to monitoring alert emails (C6/C7).  If you fail to consistently and actively engage with your studies, the University is required to end sponsorship of your visa. 
     
  • We understand that unplanned absences occur from time to time.  Please refer to the University’s Policy and Procedures on Student Absence which explains when and how an absence should be reported.  As a Student/Tier 4 visa holder, you are permitted to take only brief periods of absence.  In cases where term-time absences impact your ability to complete your degree studies within the timeframe of your visa, sponsorship of your visa may be withdrawn.   If you require a long period of absence, you will be required to suspend studies which may result in withdrawal of visa sponsorship.
     
  • You must return home if you stop studying (suspension or withdrawal) or if you complete your programme earlier than noted on your CAS and, if as a result, the University is required to end sponsorship of your visa.
     
  • Postgraduate Taught and Postgraduate Research students may choose to leave the UK to complete their studies, for example during the final dissertation/project stage or during the writing-up period.  Requests to complete studies from outside the UK or away from campus should be discussed with your School/Supervisor in the first instance.  Where permission to complete studies from outside Aberdeen is authorised, the University is required to end sponsorship of your visa.   In that case, you will not be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route visa and, you will not be eligible to use that visa to attend your graduation ceremony.
     
  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught students should not take holidays or travel during term-time.  Details of official holiday periods, during which travel is permitted, can be found here Undergraduate / Postgraduate Taught .

    Term dates can be found here Academic Calendar | Students | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk) – please check if your degree is subject to exceptions from the standard term:

    Term Date Exceptions.  If travel during term-time is unavoidable, permission must be sought from your School in advance.  In cases where term-time absences impact your ability to complete your degree studies within the timeframe of your visa, sponsorship of your visa may be withdrawn.
     
  • PhD students are given an allocation of days for authorised absences.  Any absence for personal reasons should be requested, in advance, using the Authorised Absence form which is available from your School Office.  Further information about authorised absences can be found in the PGR Student Guidance document, also available from your School.
     
  • PhD students who wish to request permission to study off-campus for robust academic reasons (e.g. data collection, fieldwork, collaborative research) must request permission in advance using the Off-Campus Form, available from your School or the PG Research School.  You should not arrange travel unless the request has been approved by the PGR Officer and Registry.   If you are likely to be off-campus for academic purposes for longer than 6 months, this may have an impact on your Student/Tier 4 visa.  Please consult with the Immigration Compliance Team for further advice.
     
  • To qualify for the Graduate route, you must complete all study (within the “relevant period”) in the UK. Further information on the Graduate Route can be found here.
     
  • You must seek advice from an International Student Adviser 3 months before the expiry date of your visa if you will be seeking an extension to your student visa. Immigration Rules change continually, and you don’t want to be caught out by any changes to the Rules since your last visa application.
     
  • You must seek advice if you wish to make any changes to your studies. Course changes are subject to UKVI restrictions.  If you are forced to repeat a year, drop down a level of study or need more time in the UK to complete your programme as it is likely you will need to obtain a new visa before you return to complete your degree. 
     
  • You must only work within the restrictions allowed by your visa
Student Visa Applications (Formerly Tier 4)

There are some situations that may need you to extend your existing Student visa as you need more time in the UK to complete your programme. You may also change programme in such a way that you are required to get a new visa before you can continue on your new degree, for example if you are upgrading to the MEng.

How you approach getting a new visa will depend on your level of study, and more information can be found below for Postgraduate Research Students and those on a Taught Programme.

Our general guide gives you more details on how the Student Visa application process works. If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national and are applying for your student visa from outside of the UK, please see this guide.

Postgraduate Research Students

If you require extra time in the UK to complete your research and write your thesis you must ensure that you have your studies extended academically before trying to get a visa extension. You should have your academic extension approved and confirmed at least 3 months before your visa is due to expire. You can get more information on extending your studies by speaking with your Supervisor or School office.

Please note that if your topic of research requires ATAS clearance and you are extending your submission date by 3 or more months or if you are changing your research topic, you will need to apply for and receive your ATAS certificate before your study extension can be processed by the Registry Team. More details on ATAS can be found on the Gov.UK website.

Once you have your study extension approved and this has been confirmed by Registry you can look at extending your Student visa. Please get in touch with the International Student Advisers  approximately 3 months prior to your visa expiry date by contacting

Taught Students

If you make a change to your studies, or a change is made due to academic issues, you may need to get a new Student visa before you can study on your new path of study. This could happen if:

Where a situation like this arises you should contact the Student Immigration Compliance Team to assess if a new visa is required as soon as possible. If your study change does require new visa sponsorship, you may need to return to your home country to submit a new visa application before you can return to the UK to continue your studies. This means you may be restricted as to when such changes to your studies can be made.

Once you have your change approved by the Student Immigration Compliance Team, and this has been confirmed by the Registry team, we can look at extending or altering your Student visa.

Graduate Route FAQs
What is the Graduate Route?
  • The Graduate Route is a new Post-Study work visa for those that have successfully achieved a degree or other relevant qualification (such as PGDE and DPLP) from the University.
     
  • Unlike the Student or Skilled Worker routes, the Graduate Route is not a sponsored visa, and therefore you do not require endorsement or permission from the University to apply.
     
  • Most successful graduates can stay in the UK for two years under the Graduate Route. PhD graduates can remain in the UK for 3 years.
     
  • The Graduate Route is not extendable; however, you may be able to switch to the Skilled Worker route should you find a suitable job.
     
  • DES visa holders cannot switch into the Graduate Route
When does the Graduate Route Open?
  • The Graduate Route opened for applications at 0900 on 1st July 2021.
What are the Requirements?
  • Firstly, you must have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at the time you come to apply. The University will be required to notify the Home Office when a student has successfully completed their programme of study. Please note that successful completion of your degree is not when your classes have finished and you have submitted your final piece of work, or when you graduate, but when the University releases your final results following the assessment boards.  
     
  • You must also have a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time of application. If your Tier 4 or Student visa will expire before 1st July 2021, you will not be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route.
     
  • You can only apply for the Graduate Route from inside the UK.
     
  • The cost of the Graduate Route visa application is £700, plus the Immigration Health Surcharge at £624 per year.
     
  • You must also have your most recent Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS).
     
  • If your tuition fees and living costs have been paid by a government and/or an international scholarship agency within the 12-month period before you apply, you must provide a letter showing your Official Financial Sponsor's consent to your application under the Graduate route.
I have dependants, are they eligible to apply with me?
  • If you have family that are dependants of your Tier 4 or Student visa already, they can apply in the UK to extend their permission as your dependant under the Graduate Route.
     
  • Unfortunately, new dependants (i.e. those that wish to join you inside the UK as your dependant) are not eligible to apply. 

Study in the UK/Relevant Period

You must be inside the UK to apply for the Graduate Route and complete a “relevant period” of study within the UK.  If, however, you returned home or remained at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, please take note of the following concessions and ensure to ensure you have travelled to the UK by the relevant date (correct as of 5th May 2022 – guidance is subject to change):

  • If you are studying a programme of 12 months or less, you must have a Tier 4/Student visa for the duration of your course and all study must take place within the UK (unless a concession below applies)
     
  • If you are studying a programme of longer than 12 months you must hold a Tier 4/Student visa for at least 12 months and all study must take place within the UK (unless a concession below applies)
     
  • If you have a Tier 4/Student visa which covers only the final year of a longer programme of study which you will complete from inside the UK, you will be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route providing you complete this year of study within the UK.
     
  • If you are on a programme of 12 months or less which commenced in September 2021, or January 2022, you must enter the UK on your Tier 4/Student visa on or before 30th June 2022 and complete/continue your programme in the UK.
     
  • If you are an undergraduate or post-graduate research student and your duration of study in the UK exceeds 12 months, you will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate route as a result of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021, or any distance learning that took place overseas between 27 September 2021 and 30 June 2022.
     
  • You must ensure that you are inside the UK before your student visa expires to apply for the Graduate Route. If your student visa expires before 30 June 2022, you must ensure that you have entered the UK before your visa expiry date, rather than 30 June 2022.
I will not receive my results until after my visa expires, can I apply to extend my visa?

Students are only eligible for a visa extension in certain circumstances.  The University cannot issue a CAS to students who will complete their studies before their Tier4/Student visa expires (A CAS cannot be issued to wait for results or attend graduation).  Students who have further studies to complete after their visa expiry date, will have their CAS request considered by the Student Immigration Compliance Team in line with Home Office requirements, including academic progression.  Students will not be granted a CAS if their attendance is not required, including students doing resits only or Associate Students.

When will the University report my successful completion to UKVI?

The University cannot report successful completion to UKVI until final results have been confirmed by the Exam Board and they are displayed in your Student Record.

The Student Record is usually updated to show final results as follows:  

DEGREE LEVEL

OFFICIAL DEGREE END DATE AS PER CAS

APPROXIMATE DATE RESULTS PUBLISHED AND SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION REPORTED TO UKVI

Undergraduate

May

Late June – usually corresponds with Summer Graduations

Postgraduate Taught

March, April, May

Late June – usually corresponds with Summer Graduations

Postgraduate Taught

September

Late November – usually corresponds with Winter Graduations

Postgraduate Taught

January

Usually in final week of February

Postgraduate Research

All months

Usually within one month of ‘Sustained letter’ being issued

Please note that students who are doing re-sits or resubmitting work may experience delays before their final results are published in the Student Record.  Students whose visas have expired by the time their results have been published will NOT be eligible for the Graduate Route visa.

Students should not submit the Graduate Route visa application until they have received an email from the Immigration Compliance Team which confirms that successful completion has been reported to UKVI.

Students who exit with a qualification which is lower than the qualification for which their CAS was issued (eg. admitted to a Master’s degree but exiting with a Pg Diploma) will NOT be eligible for the Graduate Route visa.

When will the University report my succesful completion to UKVI?

The University cannot report successful completion to UKVI until final results have been confirmed by the Exam Board and they are displayed in your Student Record. 

The Student Record is usually updated to show final results as follows:

 

DEGREE LEVEL

OFFICIAL DEGREE END DATE AS PER CAS

APPROXIMATE DATE RESULTS PUBLISHED AND SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION REPORTED TO UKVI

Undergraduate

May

Late June – usually corresponds with Summer Graduations

Postgraduate Taught

March, April, May

Late June – usually corresponds with Summer Graduations

Postgraduate Taught

September

Late November – usually corresponds with Winter Graduations

Postgraduate Taught

January

Usually in final week of February

Postgraduate Research

All months

Usually within one month of ‘Sustained letter’ being issued

Please note that students who are doing re-sits or resubmitting work may experience delays before their final results are published in the Student Record.  Students whose visas have expired by the time their results have been published will NOT be eligible for the Graduate Route visa.

Students should not submit the Graduate Route visa application until they have received an email from the Immigration Compliance Team which confirms that successful completion has been reported to UKVI.

Students who exit with a qualification which is lower than the qualification for which their CAS was issued (eg. admitted to a Master’s degree but exiting with a Pg Diploma) will NOT be eligible for the Graduate Route visa.

How will the University report my successful completion?

Once your successful programme completion is updated on our Student Records System, if you are eligible to apply for the route, the Student Immigration Compliance Team will submit a notification to UKVI online, and shortly following this, an email will be sent to your student email account outlining our notification to UKVI and further information on the Graduate Route. This email will also contain your CAS, which you will require when submitting your Graduate Route visa application.

To be reported you must meet all the following conditions:

  • You must have completed a full visa check (provided a copy of your immigration documentation) with the Student Immigration Compliance Team during your studies
  • Your visa must not have expired
  • You must have spent the “relevant period” studying in the UK (see above)
  • You must not have outstanding debt.
Where can I find more information?
Support with Your Visa - Contact Us

There are lots of support mechanisms available at the University depending on what you need help with. Our Supporting Students pages have more information on the full range of services available and we have included some services specifically for Student visa holders below.

It is important to remember that your visa is yours to protect, however there are staff trained and available to provide you with advice and support in relation to your visa, should you need it.

Please note that the International Student Advisers and the Student Immigration Compliance Team are the only teams in the University that can provide visa advice to students. Please do not seek visa advice from any other members of staff within the University, as this may not be accurate.

Student Immigration Compliance Team

You can contact the Student Immigration Compliance Team for advice on changing your programme or degree; any academic issues you are facing; questions on the visa check process; issues with attendance or absence from University; and registration.

You can reach us by emailing immigration@abdn.ac.uk

International Student Advisers

You can contact an International Student Adviser for advice on working in the UK; issues with your visa – loss, theft or damage; changing your Student visa – needing an extension or new visa; working in the UK; bringing dependants to the UK; and police registration.

You can reach them by emailing student.international@abdn.ac.uk.

Visitor Visa

The Standard Visitor Visa is usually valid for up to 6 months, and can be applied for if, for example, you wish to return to the UK to attend your Graduation Ceremony, but you no longer hold a valid Student visa.

Additionally, if you have family or friends that wish to visit you in the UK whilst you are studying at the University, they may be eligible to apply for the Standard Visitor Visa.

Please note that the Standard Visitor Visa cannot be used to study in the UK.

More information on applying for this type of visa is available in our Standard Visit Visa guide, or if you have any specific queries, please contact the International Student Adviser.

Bringing my Family to the UK

In some circumstances, Postgraduate Student visa holders are permitted to apply to bring their spouse/partner and children to the UK as their dependants.

If you have any specific queries, please contact the International Student Advisers

Police Registration

From August 2022, following changes to the Immigration Rules, nationals of some countries are no longer required to register with the police or to notify the police when they change address.

Further information about this change can be found in the attached notice.

Students who hold a visa or BRP should continue to report changes of address or changes of circumstances directly to the Home Office via this website.

Working in the UK

The International Student Advisers have created some help sheets that outline the options Student visa holders have to work in the UK. Please remember that it is your responsibility to confirm your eligibility to work in the UK with your employer. It is also your responsibility to ensure that you keep to your permitted working hours, for example 20 hours per week during term-time.

Working while completing your studies

We are currently updating our information sheets on work. 
In the meantime, the University’s Academic Calendar has details of holiday periods for work purposes for different levels of study.

Academic Calendar | Students | The University of Aberdeen (abdn.ac.uk)

The UKCISA: UK Council for International Student Affairs web pages provide useful guidance:

UKCISA - international student advice and guidance - Student work

Working after your studies are completed

The UKCISA: UK Council for International Student Affairs web pages provide useful guidance:

UKCISA - international student advice and guidance - Working after studies

Related information

Lost Travel Documents

Sometimes you may lose or have your Passport or Biometric Residence Permit stolen. When this happens, it is important that you follow the correct steps to ensure your documents can be replaced quickly. How to do this will depend on whether you are in the UK when your documents go missing or are stolen.

More information can be found on the UKCISA website.

You can also contact our International Student Advisers for more advice. Their details are on the "Support with your visa" tab.