Protecting your Tier 4 Visa
Conditions of your Tier 4 visa
When you enter (or re-enter) the UK you must commence your studies at the institution that sponsored your visa and issued your CAS. If you do not enrol as expected then the institution will cancel their sponsorship and notify the Home Office.
It is a condition of your Tier 4 leave that you study full-time and do not work more than the hours permitted on your visa. If you plan to leave the UK during your studies you should notify your academic school to ensure you remain compliant with your Tier 4 conditions.
In addition to any conditions that are printed on your vignette or BRP visa, there are also some requirements and obligations related to the immigration rules, and related to your studies and your Tier 4 sponsor.
Information about protecting your Tier 4 visa can be found on the UKCISA website.
Who needs to register?
If your Tier 4 student visa has the condition "Register with the Police within 7 days" then you will need to apply for a Police Registration Certificate as soon as possible after you arrive in the UK. This may not be clear on the visa itself and you should check the visa grant letter that was issued with your visa.
Students from the following countries studying in the UK for six months or more will need to register with the police:
Countries subject to the Police Registration Scheme
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- Holders of stateless documents
Where to go
Students starting their programme in September will be able to book an appointment to register at the Edinburgh Campus. Dates and times for 2018 will be published nearer the time.
If you arrive before or after these dates, you will need to go to the Nationality Department of Police Scotland, based in Fettes Avenue close to the City Centre:
The department is open from Monday to Friday, from 9.00am – 12.30pm.
Directions to Police Scotland Nationality Department:
Take the 25 bus from Riccarton Campus to the Frederick Street stop on Princes Street. Walk onto Frederick Street and take the 24 or 29 bus going North (heading uphill, away from Edinburgh Castle). Ask the driver to let you know when to get off the bus close to Police Scotland at Fettes Avenue. Look out for the large Waitrose supermarket on the junction of Fettes Avenue and Comely Bank.
Students studying at the Scottish Borders Campus who need to register with the police should do so at the local Police Station in Bridge Street, Galashiels.
What you should take with you
To register, you should take along:
- your Passport;
- your BRP (visa card) if you have one;
- your visa grant letter (if the police registration condition is located here and not on your visa);
- two recent passport size photographs;
- the appropriate fee in cash (£34);
- your acceptance letter from the University; and
- proof of your UK address
- a completed Registration Form which can be collected from the International Student Advice Office in the Student Service Centre or downloaded.
You will be asked to complete a form with assistance from a member of the nationality staff. You will then be asked to return at a pre-arranged time (about three weeks later) to pick up your Registration Certificate.
After registration, it is important that you inform the police if you:
- change your address
- receive an extension to your visa
- move to another institution
- are issued with a new passport.
You can notify these changes at your local police station.
Tier 4 Attendance Recording
What is attendance recording?
The University has a duty to record Tier 4 students' attendance on campus and it is a condition of your Tier 4 visa to participate in attendance recording.
UKVI can ask for any Tier 4 student's attendance data at any time. Students who do not meet minimum attendance requirements will have their Tier 4 sponsorship withdrawn and their visa will be cancelled. From September 2018, you must download the SafeZone app to your phone or tablet, and use the 'Check-in' and 'Check-out' functions at least once each week to show that you are attending the University campus for study.
How and when do I check-in?
The SafeZone app is available and a desktop version is available for students without smartphones or tablets.
You should check-in when you arrive at the classroom, lab or office at the start of at least one taught session or appointment each week and 'Check out' at the end of that session. SafeZone will record the date, time and location where you check in and check out. PGR students can check in and out during office hours (Monday – Friday) at their own office, desk, school research office or supervisor's office.
Checking in from residences, restaurants or coffee shops on campus will not be counted for recording purposes.
Check ins and check outs before 08:30, or after 17:30, or at any time on Saturday and Sunday will not be counted for attendance recording purposes (but will still be seen by Safeguarding Services for 'lone worker' safeguarding).
You must remember to check out at the end of a session, but if you forget to check out, the system will do this for you when you leave the University academic buildings.
How often should I check-in?
Tier 4 students must remember to complete valid check ins and check outs every working week. Attendance will be closely monitored.
Students who are writing up dissertations or theses that do not have a lesson or appointment during a working week should come to an academic building on campus and check in and check out at least once during that working week to show that they are engaged with study.
Tier 4 students are not required to check in and out during vacation periods and authorised absences, placements and fieldwork.
What should I do if I am unable to check-in one week?
it is understood that in exceptional circumstances, students may forget or be unable to check in, for example due to emergencies or illness. Repeated missed attendance will lead to the withdrawal of Tier 4 sponsorship.
Can I check in a friend, or ask a friend to check me in?
You must only check in for yourself, not for other people. If this happens, disciplinary action will be taken against both people – the person who checks in for someone else, and the person who allows someone else to check in on their behalf.
What will my data be used for?
Access to Tier 4 attendance data will be seen by staff for the purpose of Tier 4 compliance. Tier 4 attendance data will not be used for academic assessment decisions. Tier 4 attendance data will be treated very carefully in line with the University data protection policies.
Change of address
If you change your address you must update the following people:
- Heriot-Watt University – visit the Student Service Centre
- The Police (if you have a Police Registration Certificate) - visit your local police station
- The Home Office (if you have a Tier 4 Visa) - If your visa is in the form of BRP card then you will need to complete and return the MCC form. If your visa is a vignette inside your passport then you should complete the online form.
You will not be able to enrol on a Tier 4 Visa that was issued for a course at another university. You should make a new visa application before your new course starts and consult your new university about whether you can remain in the UK between courses.
Changing course at Heriot-Watt University
Changing to a longer course
If you are switching to a course that is longer than the one you were issued a visa for, before issuing you a new CAS letter, the University will have to check that you are still eligible for a Tier 4 Visa and may ask you to provide information about previous visas you have held for the UK and the courses that you have studied. The University will need to check that you are continuing to progress academically, and that you have not reached the maximum time period permitted. For further details on the maximum time permitted please refer to the UKCISA Study caps website.
You will need to make a new visa application for the new course. It is recommended that you do this before the new course starts and it is always best to check with us to confirm that your visa application can be made from within the UK.
Changing to a shorter course
If you are switching to a course that is shorter than the one you were issued a visa for then we advise you to contact us to discuss what you need to do before switching course.
Starting a new course at Heriot-Watt University
If you have completed a course with Heriot Watt University and have decided to start a new course then you can enrol for the new course using your current visa. You must however apply for your new visa within six weeks of the start of your course, or before your current visa expires, whichever is earlier. Please be aware that there are restrictions regarding who can apply for a visa inside the UK. Please contact ISA if you have any concerns about this.
Withdrawing or finishing studies early
If you decide to withdraw from the University, change institutions, or have finished your studies early, the University is required to report this to the Home Office.
In these circumstances your visa will be curtailed by the Home Office and they will write to or e-mail you to notify you of this. It is therefore essential that they have your up-to-date address.
If you have more than 60 days left on your visa then this will be reduced to 60 days. If you have less than 60 days immigration permission then it is likely that the length of your leave will be left as it is. You must either leave the UK within this period before your leave expires, or make an application to remain in the UK on another basis.