Student Visa time limits

There are limits placed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) on how long you can hold a Student visa. The length of time you can hold a Student visa depends on your level of study.

Find out how long you can hold a Student visa, and which courses and levels of study are exempt from the time limit.

Courses below degree level 

If you are aged under 18 there is no time limit.

If you are aged 18 and above you cannot study for more than 2 years in the UK on a Student Visa (or Tier 4 visa) for courses below degree level.

The two-year cap is extended to two years 11 months if:

  • you have never studied in the UK as a Student before; and
  • you are applying for permission to study a two-year course


Courses at degree level

For courses at degree level (RQF6), any new Student visa application must not lead to you spending more than five years at this level. All the time you have spent in the UK under Tier 4 counts towards the 5 years, including the short extra time you are given before and after a course.

Exceptions to the 5-year limit:

  • If you are applying to study a course at a higher education provider (HEP) and the 5-year cap would prevent you from completing a fifth academic year at degree level or above, then the limit is extended to five years and 11 months.
  • Courses in architecture, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and science, and certain law conversion courses or music at a conservatoire, are exempt from the limit.

UKVI will not grant further leave to someone whose current Tier 4 application means they will exceed these limits, unless there are “compelling and compassionate circumstances”, such as injury or disability.


Courses above degree level

There are no longer any time limits on study at postgraduate level and above.  This is relevant to you if you are applying for a visa to study a Masters (RQF7) or Doctorate level qualfication (RQF8).

If you require further information, please visit the UKCISA website.