Our International Student Advisors are here to help you with any aspect of applying for a student visa or your queries around student immigration.

On these pages you will find detailed information on applying for a variety of visas and help with visa and passport issues.

Please find below guidance relating to UKVI rule changes specific to your programme level, as well as UKVI rule changes applicable to all.

UKVI Changes from 05 November 2018

  • Between 05 November and 29 November students making Tier 4 (General), PBS Dependant, or Replacement BRP applications within the UK will have the option of using the current application process or the new application process.  Applications made after 29 November will all be submitted using the new process.
  • The new process will involve booking an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS) centre (closest one to Heriot Watt University is likely to be in Glasgow).  During this appointment biometrics will be taken and supporting documents will be uploaded (if you have not already uploaded documents by yourself).  Applicants will pay both the application fee, and biometric enrolment fee in one payment. 
  • When using the new process, Added Value Services will be available at an additional charge.  This will include Next Day and Walk-In Appointments, Document Checking (to ensure documents are uploaded correctly), Interpretation, and Document Translation services. 
  • Students and dependants applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa within the UK are no longer required to provide passport photographs with their application.
  • Students and dependants applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa are no longer required to provide original documentation with their application (with the exception of passports), however documents must still be in the correct format.  

UKVI Changes from 06 July 2018

  • ATAS will now be required for courses, or periods of study that are less than 6 months - this will include those studying on a Short Term Study visa. 
  • Students that are nationals of Bahrain, Cambodia, China, The Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kuwait, The Maldives, Mexico, Serbia, Thailand, Macau SAR have been added to Appendix H of the immigration rules and are therefore eligible to apply for Tier 4 with different documentary requirements.  
  • Oman has been removed from Appendix H of the immigration rules and will no longer benefit from different documentary requirements. 
  • When applying outside the UK, all students under Appenidx H will no longer be restricted to applying for Tier 4 visas from their country of nationality.  
  • Dependants of Tier 4 students who are studying at a higher education institution at postgraduate level will now be eligible to apply if the course is at least 9 months long (currently 12 months).  

UKVI Changes 11 January 2018

  • Students can now extend their visa from inside the UK if they need to extend the visa in order to undertake a study abroad programme or work placement or have previously done so (conditions apply).
  • Further guidance regarding calculating the maintenance requirement for Tier 4 Dependants has been included. Please refer to Tier 4 Dependants guidance.
  • Students on Short Term Study visas must leave the UK within 30 days of their course ending. 
  • Students on Distance Learning programmes are still eligible to apply for Short Term Study visas, however periods of stay are limited to 56 days in any six month period. 
Important changes for Tier 4 Undergraduate students

Starting an undergraduate programme

  • If you have already been studying in the UK, you must have successfully completed the qualification for which you were last granted a Tier 4 visa (or if you changed programme, the programme that you changed to). This means that you must have received the award or have formal written confirmation of the award from your institution. Please note that other conditions still apply as per previous rules. 

Changing from BEng to MEng

  • If you change from BEng to MEng you may be able to extend your Tier 4 visa from inside the UK. However the timing for doing so may differ. If you applied for your current Tier 4 visa before 06 April 2016 you can transfer to the MEng and then apply for your current visa extension at any stage before your current permission expires. If you applied for your current Tier 4 visa on or after 06 April 2016 then you must apply for and receive a new visa before you can continue on the MEng programme. You are strongly encouraged to discuss this with ISA.

Changing programme

  • You will no longer be permitted to change programme if the new programme cannot be completed within the length of your current visa. If however you changed programme (within the length of your current visa) and subsequently require additional time to repeat part of that new programme, you may be able to extend your visa from inside the UK.  Other conditions in regard to course changes still apply. 

Changing from MEng to BEng

  • From November 2016 rules regarding who can change from MEng to BEng have been applied. If you applied for your current Tier 4 visa before 06 April 2016 you can transfer to the BEng and continue to complete the programme with your MEng visa. If you applied for your current Tier 4 visa on or after 06 April 2016 then you must obtain a new visa permission from outside of the UK before you can proceed with the BEng programme. You are strongly encouraged to discuss this with ISA.

Extending visa for current programme

  • If you have transferred from another campus and decide to increase the amount of time spent studying in the UK, you must apply for your visa extension from outside the UK unless you will be progressing from BEng to MEng - please discuss such cases with ISA.

Addition time needed due to re-sits/repeat year

  • If you have had to repeat an course or undertake a resit and now need additional time to complete your programme, you may now be able to apply for your visa extension from inside the UK.  Please seek advice from ISA if you need additional time following a repeat year. 
Important changes for Tier 4 Postgraduate students

Starting an MSc

  • If you have already been studying in the UK, you must have successfully completed the qualification for which you were last granted a Tier 4 visa (or if you changed programme, the programme that you changed to). This means that you must have received the award or have formal written confirmation of the award from your institution.
  • If you had a visa for MEng and were granted a BEng award prior to undertaking your MSc, you will need to apply for your visa extension from outside the UK.

Changing from PGDip to MSc

  • If you applied for your Tier 4 visa before 06 April 2016 you can transfer from the PGDip to MSc, however if you need to extend your visa to do this, you will need to apply from outside of the UK.
  • If you applied for your Tier 4 visa on or after 06 April 2016 you will not be permitted to transfer from PGDip to MSc. It may be possible to leave the UK and then apply for a new visa for the MSc, however you are strongly encouraged to discuss the implications of this with ISA.

Extending your visa for the same programme

  • If you have transferred from another campus and decide to increase the amount of time spent studying in the UK, you must apply for your visa extension from outside the UK.

Changing programme

  • If you applied for your Tier 4 visa before 06 April 2016 you can change programme even if we know it will take longer to complete than your current visa allows, however you will need to apply for the visa extension from outside of the UK.
  • If you applied for your Tier 4 visa on or after 06 April 2016 we can no longer allow you to change programme if the new programme cannot be completed within the length of your current visa. It may be possible to leave the UK and then apply for a new visa for your new programme, however you are strongly encouraged to discuss the implications of this with ISA.

Addition time needed due to re-sits/repeat year

  • If you have had to repeat an course or undertake a resit and now need additional time to complete your programme, you may now be able to apply for your visa extension from inside the UK.  Please seek advice from ISA if you need additional time following a repeat year. 
Important changes for Tier 4 Postgraduate Research students

Starting a PhD

  • If you have already been studying in the UK, you must have successfully completed the qualification for which you were last granted a Tier 4 visa (or if you changed programme, the programme that you changed to). This means that you must have received the award or have formal written confirmation of the award from your institution
  • If your visa was issued for the Postgraduate Diploma and you then went on to be awarded the MSc, you can apply for your PhD visa from within the UK, provided that the course change had been reported to the UKVI by your institution.

Changing programme

  • If you applied for your Tier 4 visa on or after 06 April 2016 and then wish to change programme, this will only be permitted if you can complete the new course within the length of your visa. If you subsequently need more time to complete, you must apply for your visa extension from outside of the UK.  Other conditions apply.