Information for supervisors with visa-holding students


 All students must have a valid visa to be in the UK. There are a number of different visas that allow a student to study; Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4, and indefinite leave to remain, etc. In general we issue a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) to new full time overseas students in order for them to apply for a Student Route (previously Tier 4) visa. By issuing the CAS we confirm that we sponsor the student and will fulfil our sponsor duties.

The student’s Student Route / Tier 4 visa will last the standard duration of their programme and when the visa is valid for 12 months or more, it will normally have 4 months of leave added.


Royal Holloway's Student Route / Tier 4 visa sponsor duties

If Royal Holloway does not fulfil its obligations to the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) Office, we could lose our licence to recruit and sponsor students under the Tier 4 category.

The College is required by the UKVI to:

  • ensure that students have the correct visa to study at Royal Holloway on their chosen course
  • not allow students to enrol if they do not have the correct documentation to study here
  • keep copies of students’ visa documentation and passport (including when they extend their visa)
  • keep up-to-date contact details for students (UK address, telephone number, mobile)
  • report to the UKVI if students do not enrol on their course
  • monitor students attendance and progression and report to the UKVI if they do not attend or progress from one part of the course to the next
  • notify the UKVI of any changes to a student’s status (for example if they suspend their studies or withdraw from the course, if they change course whilst at Royal Holloway, or finish their course earlier than expected)
  • report to the UKVI if we suspect that a student is breaking the terms and conditions of their visa.

The College's Student Route / Tier 4 visa compliance officer is based in Student Administration.

PGR supervisors' obligations

PGR supervisors play an essential role in providing Student Administration with the information required to fulfil Royal Holloway’s sponsor duties. It is therefore vital that you inform Student Administration (cc. the Doctoral School) as soon as possible if a Student Route / Tier 4 visa postgraduate researcher:

  • is not engaging sufficiently in their studies or research.
  • interrupts their study or withdraws (please do not wait for the forms to be processed as in some cases the visa implications could be substantial).
  • goes abroad on study/research leave.

How do you know which of your students are sponsored on a Student Route / Tier 4 visa?

The list of your Student Route / Tier 4 visa sponsored students can be found in the PGR tracking section of the Student Dashboard.  

Details how to get access to the Student Dashboard, if you do not have it already.

Start date considerations for Student Route / Tier 4 visa postgraduate researchers

A student’s Student Route / Tier 4 visa is based on the programme start and end date and a student’s thesis submission end date is also calculated based on their start date. If their start date changes, we need to amend this on Banner as otherwise the student’s thesis submission date will be incorrect.

For example, if the course start date was 21 September 2020 but the student did not actually start until January 2021, then the student would have 3 months less in their writing up year if the amendment was not made. Furthermore the student’s visa would expire before their amended thesis submission end date / viva date.

The UKVI stipulates that we must notify them when a student’s start date is delayed BEFORE they enter the UK. Therefore the student can only change their start date prior to arriving in the UK.

  • If the student has not yet made their visa application, we can amend the current visa CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance to Study) letter and they can make their application
  • If the student has already made their visa application then we must cancel their current CAS and issue a new CAS. The student would need to pay again for the new visa application.
  • If the student is already in the UK on a Tier 4 visa they CANNOT change their start date unless they leave the UK and re-apply for a new Tier 4 visa (with the added cost of a new application fee

Advice for supervisors:

Advice for students:

Student Route / Tier 4 visa postgraduate researcher engagement monitoring 

It is crucial that the following are picked up as soon as possible:

  • any concerns about a Student Route / Tier 4 visa student's engagement
  • that a Student Route / Tier 4 visa student has left the UK (other than for a holiday) without having informed the Visa Officer in Student Administration

Ideally, you will inform Student Administration (cc Doctoral School) as soon as either of the above occurs. However, in order to help to avoid such cases slipping through the net, the Doctoral School will issue a short online questionnaire once every two months to all supervisors of postgraduate researchers who are sponsored under a Student Route / Tier 4 visa so that you can confirm the students' level of engagement / location.  

Find out more


Interruption / authorised absence for Tier 4 postgraduate researchers

If your Student Route / Tier 4 postgraduate researcher wishes to interrupt their research:

  • Please remember to inform Student Administration (cc the Doctoral School) as soon as you are aware that your postgraduate researcher may be interrupting.  Do not wait for the forms to be processed, as in some cases the visa implications could be substantial.
  • They need to be made aware before the paperwork is processed, that Royal Holloway will not be able to sponsor them as a student during their period of interruption.  Please advise them to speak with the International Student Support Office.
  • The student will be required to leave the UK and return home for the duration of the interruption period / until they restart the programme. A student cannot be in the UK under a Tier 4 visa if they are not studying.
  • If they want to interrupt for up to 60 days, it may be possible for them have an Authorised Absence instead, which allows them a short period of absence from their studies and to remain in the UK.  Further details about this,and the form to be completed, are available from Student Administration.

What should you do if your Student Route / Tier 4 postgraduate researcher is researching / writing up abroad?

If a student has been granted Leave of Absence to go abroad for a period of time to complete research, then the College must inform the UKVI (preferably prior to the student leaving the country). If we do not notify the UKVI of the student’s research leave, then when they re-enter the UK they could be questioned by the UK Border Officer on their prolonged absence. The student could be detained for a number of hours before being allowed into the country.  It's important to note that we still have a reporting duty for the student whilst they are undertaking their research abroad and need to continue to confirm their ‘engagement in study activities’. 

If the student is doing research outside of the UK in years 1 - 3, the following form should be completed and returned to Student Administration:

If the student is leaving the UK to do their writing up, the following form should be completed and returned to Student Administration:

Please note that it is likely that the College will need to withdraw the Student Route / Tier 4 visa if the student leaves the UK during their writing up year (unless for a holiday) .  


Advice for supervisors:

Advice for students:

Can a Student Route / Tier 4 visa be extended if your postgraduate researcher needs to complete corrections / resubmit after their viva?

If they are required to make minor amendments, then this cannot normally be supported with a CAS as most minor amendments can be done from abroad and do not require access to UK research facilities.

If they need to make 9 month corrections or have been asked to resubmit, then it would depend on the advice from the examiners and supervisor and a CAS would not be automatically issued. If agreed that they need to be in the UK to make the corrections then a CAS would be issued as an exception.  Please contact Student Administration for further details.

View guidance given to visa-holding postgraduate researchers



Contact us

Student Administration

Doctoral School

International Student Support Office

Quick links 

Student Route / Tier 4 - studying outside of the UK form

Student Route / Tier 4 - writing up outside of the UK form

Guidance for visa-holding PGRs

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