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 enrolling at the RCM, 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 an "entry clearance vignette" (sticker) in your passport instead, which is normally valid for 90 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.  

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

UKVI is gradually rolling out the use of digital immigration status.  During this transition period, depending on your nationality, you may receive just a digital status, or a digital status and a BRP.  At the moment this primarily applies to EU/EEA nationals, and students of some other countries who apply for a visa in the UK, but it will eventually be used for all Student visa applications.  If you receive a digital status, you will be asked to provide your immigration status share code as part of the new student check-in process. 

Length of leave

The length of time your Student 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

These conditional also apply to Tier 4 (General) Student visas issued before October 2020.

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:

  • 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.

Further information about working during and after studies is available here.

International team

International student enquiries

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