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Immigration

Changing Programmes at Durham

The information on this page applies to students who are thinking of changing programmes at Durham University.

Please note: The information on this page was updated following changes to the immigration rules on 6th April 2016 (applies to programmes at Degree level or above).

If you have not completed the programme for which your current Tier 4 (General) visa was granted, whether or not you are allowed to change programmes depends on a number of factors.

Please find the situation relevant to you from the list below and follow the advice given in each case:

Change of programme: Where the new programme is at the same level of study and the same length

If you have not previously successfully completed a programme of study in the in the UK while holding a Tier 4 (or pre-Tier 4) Student visa, you can change to a new programme providing all of the following requirements can be met:

  • The new programme is at degree level or above
  • The new programme is not at a lower academic level than the programme you are currently studying (for which were assigned a CAS and granted your current Tier 4 visa)
  • You can complete the new programme within your current period of Tier 4 leave (before your current Tier 4 visa expires).

If you have previously successfully completed a programme of study in the UK while holding a Tier 4 (or pre-Tier 4) Student visa, in addition to all of the above you must also be able to demonstrate that:

  • The programme you intend to change to is connected to the programme that you have previously successfully completed in the UK while holding a Tier 4 (or pre- Tier 4) Student visa.

For the new programme to be connected to your last successfully completed programme it must be:

  • Part of the same subject group, or
  • Involves deeper specification, or
  • The previous programme and new programme together, support your genuine career aspirations

If you meet all the criteria above, you will not need to apply for a new Tier 4 Student visa. The Student Immigration Office will notify UK Visas & Immigration of the change and no further action is required.

It is not possible to transfer to an ‘unconnected’ programme (see criteria for connect programmes above) under a Tier 4 Student visa (for example: changing to an MA in History from your current programme when you have previously successfully completed an MSc in Physics).

Change of programme: Where the new programme is at the same or a higher level of study and longer

If your new programme end date is later than your current visa expiry date you must apply for a new Tier 4 Student visa from outside of the UK once you have permission to transfer and before you commence study on your new programme. This includes:

  • Adding a year of study abroad* to your programme
  • Adding a work placement* to your programme

*which is an agreed and assessed part of your programme

If your current visa was issued before April 2016: You can apply for a new visa at any time before your current visa expires but you can only apply outside the UK.

Change of programme: Where the new programme is at the same level of study but shorter

If you transfer to a new programme which is at the same level of study as your original programme but will end earlier (for example – choosing not to undertake a year of study abroad or work placement so that the degree can be completed in 3 years rather than 4), the Student Immigration Office will notify UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) at the point you transfer to the shorter programme.

On completion of your new programme your visa will be curtailed as though you have completed your programme early and you will be given the appropriate ‘wrap-up period’ in order to complete your affairs in the UK.

In addition, students are also required to email UKVI to advise them of the change to a shorter programme. Emails should be sent to UKVI at MigrantReporting@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk and should include your full name, nationality, date of birth, passport number, CAS number as well as the new programme end date.

You will receive an automatic reply and this is confirmation that you have notified them.

Please remember to keep all your contact details (including address) up-to-date on DUO so that you can be contacted quickly with information about your immigration status, if required.

Change of programme: Where the new programme is at a lower level of study

Changing to a programme which is at a lower level of study than your current programme does not demonstrate academic progression and therefore this is not possible.

If you are applying to study a new programme in the UK and have previously studied in the UK using a Student or Tier 4 (General) Student visa, the new programme must represent academic progress from your previous study.

The Tier 4 Policy Guidance states that in order to show academic progression, your new programme must:

"normally be above the level of the previous course for which you were given Tier 4 leave"

Exceptions

If the course you are applying for is not at a higher level than your previous course, there are exceptions to this rule where the University (the Tier 4 Sponsor) confirms that:

"the new course is related to the previous course for which you were given Tier 4 leave (meaning that it is either connected to the previous course, part of the same subject group or involves deeper specialisation); or

"your previous and new course combined, support your career aspirations"

You will be asked any about any previous study in the UK as part of your online application to Durham University and if academic progression is not clear from your application, you will be contacted and asked to provide further information.

This and further explantion is available in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance

Study abroad

If you are transferring programmes to include a year of study abroad, you may also need to extend your Tier 4 (General) visa.

If your new programme end date is later than your current visa expiry date you can request a CAS from the Student Immigration Office once you have permission to transfer. You must then apply for a new Tier 4 Student visa from outside the UK before returning to commence study on your new programme. This includes:

  • Adding a year of study abroad* to your programme
  • Adding a work placement* to your programme

*which is an agreed and assessed part of your programme

If your current visa was issued before April 2016: You can apply for a new visa at any time before your current visa expires but you can only apply outside the UK.

Please note: CAS are valid for six months from the date issued by the Student Immigration Office

ATAS clearance

If your new programme requires you to have clearance from the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) you must apply for ATAS clearance before changing programme.

If you hold ATAS clearance for your current programme and it is also required for your new programme, you must apply for ATAS clearance before changing programme.

You must also provide the Student Immigration Office with a copy of your new ATAS certificate once you have it.

The University of Durham makes every effort to ensure that the information published on this page is accurate. However, the University cannot guarantee the information may not be altered owing to circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) change in Government policy, or change of law. Any changes will be incorporated into the University’s website as early as possible.