The Home Office has a time limit of five years for degree level study. Any new Tier 4 application must lead to you spending no more than five years on courses at degree level. All previous visas under Tier 4 (or as a pre-Tier 4 student) count towards the five years and this includes the short extra time you are given before the course (maximum one month) and after a course (maximum four months).
The five year limit does not apply if:
- if you are applying to study a course at a higher education institution (HEI) and the five 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.
- if you have successfully completed a UK degree course which was at least four years long, and you are making a Tier 4 application to study a Master's degree at a higher education institution (recognised body or institution in receipt of public funding), the limit is six years and 11 months
- if your Tier 4 application is to study a PhD (or one of the postgraduate research qualifications listed in Annex 4 of the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance
- if you have already completed a PhD (or one of the postgraduate research qualifications listed in Annex 4 of the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance in the UK, any new Tier 4 application is subject to an eight year limit (including courses below degree level, but not including Tier 4 leave granted under the Doctorate Extension Scheme).
- if you are applying to study on or continue a course in:
- veterinary medicine and science
- music at a conservatoire
this period of study will be exempt from the limit.
- if you have completed a UK degree, and your current Tier 4 application is to study certain legal qualifications the legal qualification is exempt from the limit. In England and Wales the relevant qualifications are a law conversion course, a Legal Practice Course and the Bar Professional Training Course. In Northern Ireland the relevant qualifications are a Masters in Legal Science (MLegSc), the Solicitors Course and the Bar Course. In Scotland the relevant qualifications are an accelerated graduate LLB and a Diploma in Professional Legal Practice.
Please read the Home Office Tier 4 Policy Guidance before applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa.