Important information for Student Visa holders

Resits and your student visa

If you are an international student visa holder and you have a resit or resits to do before progressing with your studies, there might be implications on your immigration status within the UK.  We would advise you to either submit a query for the Visa Advice and Compliance team through the Student Portal by clicking ask HWU or booking an appointment with our Global Student Advisor to discuss your situation. 

Conditions of your Tier 4 or student 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 Student visa 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 student visa 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 student visa sponsor.

Information about protecting your student visa status can be found on the UKCISA website.

Police registration

Police Registration is no longer required

As of 1 August 2022, UK Visa and Immigration announced an end to Police Registration for all foreign nationals with immediate effect.  This means that no student is now required to register even if you received a Student visa during July or August 2022 that states you need to do so.  

Tier 4 and Student visa Attendance Recording

What is attendance recording?

The University has a duty to record students' attendance on campus and it is a condition of your Tier 4 or student visa to participate in attendance recording.

UKVI can ask for any Tier 4 or student visa holder, student's attendance data at any time. Students who do not meet minimum attendance requirements will have their Tier 4 or student visa sponsorship withdrawn and their visa will be cancelled*.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 and student visa students to record their attendance for UKVI compliance purposes.
Students are required to record their attendance for UKVI compliance purposes at least once each week to show that they are attending the University campus for study.

Tier 4 students or student visa holders must record their attendance each week as well as making sure that they go to all their timetabled classes.

Overseas students who cannot use the SafeZone app for their attendance recording may record their attendance in person each week at the Student Service Centre (Edinburgh Campus) or Administration Office (Scottish Borders Campus).

*The University will communicate with overseas students with Heriot-Watt University visa sponsorship who are not meeting minimum attendance requirements before 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

Please use the manual check-in function and do not use the automatic check-in for  attendance purposes. The manual check-in gives you more control and confidence about when your attendance is recorded for UKVI compliance purposes.

You should check in for 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 use the Portfolio process to record their attendance on a monthly basis. 

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 09:00, or after 17:00, 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 attendance, in order to have your Student 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 and student visa holders must remember to complete valid check-ins and check-outs every working week.

Students who are writing up dissertations or thesis 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 and student visa holders 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 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 Student attendance data will be seen by staff for the purpose of UKVI compliance. Tier 4 and Student attendance data will not be used for academic assessment decisions. Tier 4 attendance and Student 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 or Student 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.
Changing university

You will not be able to enrol on a Tier 4 or student 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 Student 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 the student information desk 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.

If you finish your studies more than 60 days earlier than your CAS end date then the University must report early completion of studies to (UKVI) UK Visa and Immigration.  When this notification is made to UKVI they will curtail (cancel) your visa, we do not know what your new visa end date will be, because of this we would advise against travelling overseas if you hope to return to the UK.  This is because once UKVI take curtailment action you cannot travel back into the UK as your student visa will lapse. 

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 less than 60 days immigration permission when UKVI take curtailment action 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.

Student information desk

Our Visa Advice and Compliance team are available to answer your enquires through the Student information desk. You can also view frequently asked questions (FAQs) for many topics related to international students studying at our Scottish campuses.