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Advice and Counselling Service

Time limit ('cap') on studies with Student permission

There is a maximum time limit of five years study in the UK at degree level (RQF level 6). This is known as the five-year cap. Before issuing your CAS, Queen Mary will check all your previous Student immigration permission granted for degree level studies, including periods of leave granted before and after your course. 

What counts towards the five-year cap? 

Any old-style student visa for degree-level studies that was issued before the Student visa existed is also counted towards the cap. The limit of time spent in the UK with Student permission counts, even if you are applying for your new visa from outside the UK. 

Any period of time where you hold an existing Student visa that has not been curtailed or superseded by another visa will also count.

What doesn’t count towards the five-year year cap?  

If you apply for your visa under the Student Route, there is no limit for time spent studying with Student permission at postgraduate level (RQF level 7) and above. 

Any period of time with Student immigration permission you have held before reaching the age of 18 will not be counted towards the maximum time permitted. 

Time spent in the UK with a Student visa issued for studies below degree level (below RQF level 6) will not count towards the five-year cap. 

Some specific courses are exempt from the time limit, including Medicine and Dentistry, as long as you are applying to start or continue the programme. You can check which other courses are exempt in paragraph ST19.3 of Appenidix ST of the Immigration Rules.If you have already completed or withdrew from a programme that was exempt when you were studying it, it will be counted.  

Please note that the Law Senior Status course at Queen Mary is not an exempted course and will be counted in calculating the time limit. 

Going above the 5 year cap

If you take longer than expected to complete your course, for example because you need to do resits, and to do so would take you over the five year limit, you can only extend your immigration permission if you had very compelling circumstances, such as injury, disability, or other compelling reasons. You can get further advice from a Welfare Adviser or another regulated immigration adviser before you apply.

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