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Visa conditions

Buildings next to the River Thames in London
If your visa application is successful most students will be issued with a plastic card, known as a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Your BRP is your visa and must be carried with your passport when entering or leaving the UK. You will need to show your BRP as proof of your right to be in the UK before starting any employment, when renting accommodation or when doing things like opening a bank account.

BRPs cannot currently be printed outside the UK. If you apply overseas you will be issued with a vignette (sticker) in your passport instead, which is normally valid for 30 days to enable you to travel. On arrival in the UK you will need to go to a branch of the Post Office to collect your BRP. This will normally be the branch closest to the RCM, which is on Kensington High Street. BRPs should normally be collected within 10 days of arrival.  However, if you need to self-isolate/quarantine on arrival, don't worry, your card will be held for longer. 

If you apply to extend your visa in the UK your BRP will be posted to you by UKVI around 10 working days after your visa is granted.

Extending your visa from within the UK

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals coming to the UK on a Student Visa will be issued with a digital visa status instead of a physical BRP.  You will be asked to provide your immigration status share code as part of the new student check-in process. It is expected that use of digital immigration status will be rolled out to nationals of other countries in the future.

Due to the coronavirus, where appropriate UKVI is issuing Entry Clearance Vignettes valid for 90 days, to allow more flexibility with travel dates. If you are prevented from travelling during the validity period due to travel restrictions caused by coronavirus, contact for advice on how to extend your vignette.

Length of leave

The length of time your Student visa / Tier 4(General) visa will be valid depends on the length of your course.

Courses of 12 months or more

Your visa will be granted for:

  • one month before the course or 7 days before the intended date of travel (whichever is later)
  • the full length of the course
  • four months at the end of the course.

Courses of 6–11 months

Your visa will be granted for:

  • one month before the course or seven days before the intended date of travel (whichever is later)
  • the full length of the course
  • two months at the end of the course.

Standard conditions of Student visas and Tier 4 (General) Student visas

You can:

  • study full-time at your sponsoring institution on the course for which your CAS was issued
  • undertake subsidiary study if you wish (eg an evening class)
  • work up to 20 hours per week in term-time, and full-time during vacation periods
  • work as a performer if undertaking a work placement that is arranged by your sponsor and an assessed part of your course (visit our Creative Careers Centre for more details)
  • use the National Health Service (provided you have paid the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge)
  • bring dependants (eg spouse or children) if studying a course at Level 7 or above that lasts 9 months or more

You can't:

  • claim public funds (eg unemployment benefit)
  • be self-employed or engage in business activity
  • work as a professional sportsperson or entertainer (except for performances covered by the exemption for work placements)
  • fill a full-time, permanent vacancy

You must:

  • register with the Police within 7 days of arrival if required (students from selected countries only)
  • inform the RCM and UKVI if your circumstances change

Always check your visa carefully when you receive it - if you think there are any errors in the conditions printed on it, contact us straight away.

International team

International student enquiries