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
On arrival in the UK you need to book an appointment to register with the Nationality Department of Police Scotland based in Fettes Avenue close to the City Centre:
The department is open from Monday to Sunday, from 09.00 – 17.00. You must attend in person; appointments cannot be made over the phone or by email.
You will then receive an appointment card with the date and time of your appointment written on it along with a list of everything you are required to bring.
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 should complete the form in advance, if you require any help with this please book an appointment with one of the Global Student Advisors.
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.
- any absence from the UK for more than 2 months
- Change of studies
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*.
The 'Check-in' and 'Check-out' function SafeZone app for smartphones can be used by Tier 4 students to record their attendance for Tier 4 purposes.
Tier 4 students are required to record their attendance for Tier 4 purposes at least once each week to show that they are attending the University campus for study.
It is essential that Tier 4 students record their attendance each week as well as making sure that they go to all their timetabled classes.
Tier 4 students who do not want to use the SafeZone app for their Tier 4 attendance recording may record their attendance in person each week at the Student Service Centre (Edinburgh Campus) or Administration Office (Scottish Borders Campus).
Most students choose one way of recording their attendance for Tier 4 purposes, but students can use the app in some week and record their attendance in person in other weeks if they wish.
*The University will attempt to communicate with Tier 4 students who are not meeting minimum attendance requirements before Tier 4 sponsorship is withdrawn.
How and when do I check in? (SafeZone users)
Read more about downloading and using SafeZone.
If you need support accessing or using SafeZone, SafeGuarding can be contacted on +44 (0) 131 451 3500 or SafeGuarding@hw.ac.uk
Please use the manual check-in function and do not use the automatic check-in for Tier 4 attenance purposes. The manual check-in gives you more control and confidence about when your attendance is recorded for Tier 4 purposes.
You should check in for Tier 4 attendance purposes, during normal study hours, when you arrive at the classroom, lab or office at the start of at least one taught session or appointment each week. You do not need to remain checked in for the whole 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 outside or residences, the sports centre and other non-academic buildings 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 and when do I check-in? (In person)
You can only check in at the Student Service Centre or Scottish Borders Campus Administration Office during the normal opening hours of those locations. You must speak with a member of staff in these locations and ask about Tier 4 attendance, in order to have your Tier 4 attendance recorded correctly. Logging your arrival using the Queue Manager system then walking away is not sufficient.
How often should I check in?
Tier 4 students must remember to complete valid check-ins and check-outs every working week.
Students who are writing up dissertations or theses and who 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?
In exceptional circumstances, students may forget or be unable to check-in, for example due to emergencies or illness. However, 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.