You must apply to extend your visa before your existing visa expires, otherwise you will become an 'overstayer', which is a breach of the conditions of your visa. If you are classed as an overstayer, your new visa application is likely to be refused and, depending on how long you have overstayed, you could be made to leave the UK and barred from applying to return for several years.
If you think there is any risk of you not applying to extend your visa in time, please contact our International team for guidance.
Once you have submitted your application, you can stay in the UK until you receive a decision, even beyond your existing visa's expiry date, but you must have applied before it expired.
Students already studying in the UK who will be starting a new course
If you have an existing Student visa / Tier 4 (General) Student visa for studies that you have just completed, you should apply for a new visa before starting your new course. Student visas / Tier 4 visas are linked with a sponsoring institution and a specific course. If your previous visa was linked to another institution there is no way of transferring that visa to the RCM.
If you have applied for your new visa in the UK and are still waiting for a decision from UKVI in September, the RCM is exceptionally permitted to enrol you if you meet both of the following conditions:
- You have been issued with a CAS for your new course.
- You submitted your new Student visa application before your existing visa expired.
You will only be able to enrol if you bring all of the following to new student check-in:
- Your passport.
- Your existing visa showing you still had valid leave when you applied for the new visa.
- The Student Visa application cover sheet showing the date you paid for and submitted the application online.
If you have just finished a course at the RCM, there is a concession in the Immigration Rules that allows you to register using your old visa if it is unavoidable, provided you submit your new application within six weeks of the date of enrolment. This should normally only be necessary for students with late assessments in September.
Please note that, in both scenarios, you register at your own risk should the application be refused.
Late September and early October are peak period for visa applications. Applications submitted during this period can take longer to process and there is a risk that your new visa will not be issued before the Christmas vacation. If this happens you might not be able to travel home, so it is recommended to apply as soon as possible.