Guidance for Tier 4 students may be different during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for University updates.

Immigration Document Checks for September 2020 Registration

New International Students

In order to verify your right to study in the UK, the Tier 4 Compliance Team are required to complete a check of your immigration documentation (i.e. your passport and your visa and if applicable, your Biometric Residence Permit), and gather your contact information, such as your address in Aberdeen.

We are also required to retain copies of your immigration documents. This check forms an essential part of the University of Aberdeen registration process and can only be completed once you have arrived in Aberdeen.

For students commencing study in August/September/October 2020, immigration document checks will be conducted online. Please check this page at the beginning of August 2020 for updates on how do complete your immigration document check.

Please note that we may require students to attend an in-person immigration document check once circumstances allow. Please regularly check your University email account for updates from the Tier 4 Compliance Team regarding such checks. 

Collecting your Biometric Residence Permit

Most students who study with us on Tier 4 need a Biometric Residence Permit to study in the UK. This is a credit card sized permit that acts as your new visa to permit you entry to, and the right to stay in, the UK. Details on collecting your BRP can be found in the BRP Information Sheet. Please be aware that only students who have applied for a visa after summer 2015 will hold a BRP, and you are not required to hold one if your visa was issued before this date or if your visa is valid for less than 6 months.

Continuing Tier 4 Students

The Tier 4 Compliance Team will be running an online form for continuing Tier 4 Students to complete the first mandatory visa and passport check of academic year 2020/21. This will be a similar process to the checks completed online in April 2020.

An email will be sent to all continuing Tier 4 students in August 2020 with further details on how to complete the online check.

Short-Term Visa Students

Tier 4 Students

Tier 4 Students

As a student who holds a Tier 4 visa, it is important that you are aware of your responsibilities while you study with us. It is also important that you know who to contact for information and advice during your time in Aberdeen so that your immigration status is protected.

You will find links to the left which outline: some of your responsibilities while holding a Tier 4 visa; information on the visa check process; and details on who to contact for support with your visa.

You will be aware that the University sponsors your visa and, as such, we have significant duties placed on us by the Home Office to ensure that you are keeping to the terms of your visa. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is the department of the Home Office that manages your visa and you will see us refer to them when discussing your visa.

We will update this page with news, information, events and policy changes that could impact you and your visa so do check back regularly to ensure you are up to date with what you need to know.

Non Tier 4 Students, visitors and family members

Much of the information on these pages applies to our Tier 4 student body, but information can also be found on visit visas for students coming for a short period or for family and friends who wish to visit you.

We also have information for students who wish to explore options to bring their family to the UK during their studies under the "Bringing my family to the UK" page. This includes supporting your family to live in the UK and the options for them visiting the UK during your studies.

Responsibilities of Being a Tier 4 Student

Holding a Tier 4 visa gives you various rights in the UK. It also places responsibilities on you which you must follow to ensure you do not put your visa at risk.

You will have received a Tier 4 Check Card when you registered and completed your arrival visa check. This outlines some of the main duties you have when dealing with the University on the back, and these are outlined below. This only represents some of the duties you have in holding a Tier 4 visa and you must remember that it is your job to make sure you are sticking to the full terms of your visa. You can find more information from the UK Government website on what it means to hold a Tier 4 visa.

Some of the main responsibilities you have that relate to your studies are:

  • You must provide a copy of your passport, visa or Biometric Residence Permit (and ATAS certificate if you need one) when this is requested by a member of staff or you are issued new documents;
  • You must keep your contact details up-to-date using the Student Hub so we can provide these details to UKVI should they ask us for them;
  • You must check your University email account at least once a week as this is the main method through which we will communicate with you about your visa and your studies;
  • You must register for your studies, on time, each academic year. Failure to do so will result in the University having to stop the sponsorship of your visa as you will no longer be regarded as a student with us. This includes ensuring that you are permitted to register each year, which is impacted by holding a debt to the University and your academic progression in your degree;
  • You must attend a visa check when and where requested. You will find out about the next visa check in an email to your University email account or by checking the visa check pages:
  • You must fully engage with your studies by attending all required classes, meeting with your supervisor and signing in as requested by your School. Your visa has been issued for you to study with us and it is important that you are fully engaged with your programme throughout its duration;
  • You must follow University processes and seek permission from your School(s) to spend longer than a week away from campus during your studies. Speak with your School office to arrange any time away and update them with any situations that could result in you missing a class or sign-in session;
  • You must return home if you stop studying with us or if you complete your programme early, as we will report your visa to UKVI when such a change is known by us;
  • You must seek advice from an International Student Adviser (based in the Student Advice and Support Office) 3 months before the expiry date of your visa if you will be seeking an extension. Immigration rules change continually and you don’t want to be caught out by any changes to the rules since your last application;
  • You must seek advice from an International Student Adviser if you wish to make any changes to your studies (such as changing the degree you or on) or 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; and
  • You must only work within the restrictions allowed by your visa and ensure that you follow any other terms of your visa as outlined on it.

You can get up to date information on your wider responsibilities from the UK Council for International Student Affairs. This includes information on various topics about being a student in the UK, specifically your responsibilities in holding a Tier 4 visa.

Tier 4 Visa Applications

There are some situations that may need you to extend your existing Tier 4 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.

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 Tier 4 application process works.

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.

Once you have your study extension approved and this has been confirmed by Registry you can look at extending your Tier 4 visa.

For some students you may need ATAS clearance to study in the UK. You must obtain a new ATAS clearance if you are extending your studies for more than 3 months, of if your area of study changed. More details on ATAS can be found on the Gov.UK website.

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 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 Tier 4 Team to assess if a new visa is required as soon as possible. If it is you will have to leave the UK, return home, and submit a new visa application before returning to the UK. This means you will be restricted as to when such changes can be made.

Once you have your change approved by the Tier 4 team, and this has been confirmed by Registry, you can look at extending or altering your Tier 4 visa.

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 Tier 4 students below.

It is important to remember that your visa is yours to protect.  Whenever you seek advice on an issue relating to your studies, or time in the UK, you must make sure that you get advice specifically with regard to your visa.

Tier 4 Team

You can contact the Tier 4 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

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 Tier 4 visa – needing an extension or new visa; working in the UK; bringing dependants to the UK; and police registration.

You can reach them by visiting them in the Students’ Union Building, top floor; by calling 01224 273935; or by emailing


You can contact the Infohub for questions and queries that you may have regarding your studies; finances; accommodation; making payments; letter requests; and staying in Aberdeen. They can tell you what services the University has and help you find the right person to help.

You can reach them by visiting 91 High Street or by emailing

UK Council for International Student Affairs

UKCISA is an organisation designed to help and support international students in the UK. They work to lobby the UK Government on issues that impact our international students and are a great source of information and advice on living in the UK and holding a visa.

The Curtailment Process

If you stop being a registered student in the middle of your studies with us it is likely that your Tier 4 visa will need to be shortened. We do this by reporting your change in student status to UKVI who will then take steps to shorten, or curtail, your existing visa. The Tier 4 Team will let you know by email if this is the case.

Once your visa has been reported to UKVI they will contact you with more details on your visa and what action, if any, they have taken to curtail it. The following are examples of the sort of letter you will receive from UKVI, often by email:

UKVI have also provided us with information on the process updated to August 2018.

Once your visa has been reported to UKVI and we have told you about this you should not use it to re-enter the UK. 

You may look at moving into a new immigration category, or seek sponsorship from another visa sponsor. Where you do this you will need to seek advice from your new sponsor as to your rights to remain in the UK during the application process.

Visit Visa

Short-Term Study Visa

Tier 4 visas are mainly used for students coming to the UK for more than 6 months. In many cases students only need to visit the UK for a short period, maybe to sit and exam or viva or to attend a short course. In these cases it is possible that the Short-Term Study Visa route is more appropriate than Tier 4.

More information on this route is available in our Short-Term Study Visa guide.

Visit Visa

If someone wants to visit you while you study, and is not themselves going to be engaging in study in the UK, they may be able to apply for a standard Visit Visa.

More information on applying for this type of visa is available in our Standard Visit Visa guide.

Bringing my Family to the UK

In some circumstances, postgraduate Tier 4 students are allowed to apply to bring their children and spouse to the UK with them while they study.

More information on this process is available in our guide.

Police Registration

Nationals of some countries are required to register with the police when coming to the UK for more than 6 months. More information on who has to complete police registration, and how to do this, are contained in our Police Registration guide.

Please be aware that this guide was last updated in April 2016 and you must ensure that you comply with the process in place when you arrive in the UK. You can contact the police station using the details in this guide for more information.

Working in the UK

Our International Student Advisers have created some help sheets that outline the options Tier 4 students have to work in the UK. These were last updated in April 2016 and you must remember that it is your responsibility to confirm your eligibility to work in the UK with your employer.

Working while completing your studies

The following guide should be read by students who are still studying on their programme and are still registered as students with us.

Working after your studies are completed

The following guide should be read by students who have successfully completed their programme and have reached the formal end date of studies as outlined on their initial offer of admission. You can clarify if this applies to you by contacting the Tier 4 Team.

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.

More information can be found in this guide produced by UK Visa & Immigration.

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