Visas and immigration

Our global 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 5 October 2020

On 5 October 2020, the UK Home Office updated their immigration rules and guidance with details of the new student visa route which has replaced the previous Tier 4 student route.  Any visa applications submitted inside or outside the UK from this date will be subject to the new rules for the student visa route. Our International pages provide further guidance on the key changes you need to be aware of.

UKVI changes from 10 January 2019

  • From 10 January, students with Tier 4 immigration permission (leave) to study a part-time postgraduate course will be able to apply to extend their Tier 4 leave in the UK  to continue studying on a part-time or on a full-time basis. This means that people studying part time for a doctorate will be able to apply under the Doctorate Extension Scheme  

  • The maintenance requirements are reworded but remain the same; changes make clear that money from a loan does not have to be available to you on the date of application and that you need not have held funds from a loan or from an official financial sponsor for a 28-day period before you apply 

UKVI changes from 29 November 2018

  • From 29 November, students making Tier 4 (General), PBS Dependant, or Replacement BRP applications within the UK will 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 Glasgow).  During this appointment biometrics will be taken and supporting documents will be uploaded.  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, scanned copies will be acceptable (with the exception of passports), however documents must still be in the correct format.
  • The immigration health surcharge (IHS) fee has increased to £300 per academic year for both Tier 4 students and dependents. 
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. 

Key information

International Student Advice