International Student Support

Protecting your Tier 4 status

Our Student immigration guide (see right) gives an overview of your Tier 4 conditions and the most common immigration issues which will affect you when studying on a Tier 4 student visa. You should seek advice from an International Student Adviser if you have any questions about your immigration status.

Immigration responsibilities, yours and ours

When the university issued you with a CAS and you used this to apply for your Tier 4 visa, we became your Tier 4 sponsor. All Tier 4 sponsors have specific sponsor duties and these are outlined in the Tier 4 sponsor guidance. Many of our duties will not affect your day to day study but some things that we are obliged to notify UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) about, may involve your leave being curtailed (cut short). Furthermore when your visa was issued it had certain conditions attached to it which you must not breach.

You can find a detailed explanation of the conditions of your Tier 4 visa, the University's duties as a Tier 4 sponsor and other responsibilities in our Student immigration guide [PDF 1.35MB]. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website also has a guide to Protecting your Tier 4 status . Let us know if you have any questions.

Some of the main issues you need to be aware of are:

  • Do not overstay your visa and if extending make sure you submit your visa application on or before your expiry date – see the section on Overstaying and Visa Refusals below for more details
  • If you get a new passport or visa whilst on your course at Sussex you need to give copies to the University. Sussex will chase you for these documents but please provide them soon as you receive them. You are required to report any change in your circumstances (such as a new address or passport) to UKVI. A full list of the circumstances which have to be reported can be found on the UK Council for International Student Affairs’ website. If you have a police registration certificate you also need to inform the police of certain changes (including change of address, new visa and new passport). Details on how to do this can be found on our police registration pages.
  • If you breach the conditions of your visa (such as not registering with the police, work conditions and overstaying) this can have serious consequences for future immigration applications. There is a section of the immigration rules called the General grounds for refusal which state that a visa application may be refused if you have breached a condition of your leave or overstayed in the past. You will have to declare any period of overstay on all future immigration applications so it's important to note that this could lead to a refusal in the future, even if you are subsequently granted a visa
  • Attend class and submit work on time – talk with someone if there is a problem. The Student Life Centre will be able to advise you on issues around attendance.
  • Pay your Sussex fees on time. Non-payment of fees can lead to withdrawal from the university, which would be reported to UKVI (see below for more details)
  • Keep your address and phone number up to date on Sussex Direct
  • Note the work conditions attached to your visa and do not breach these. One of the conditions is that you are not self-employed. Please contact us and let us know if you have questions about what constitutes being self employed
  • Open a UK bank account that offers paper statements by post and keep these safe – you might need them for future visa extension applications
  • Do not get into trouble with the Police or commit driving offences
  • Please note that if your visa is a vignette (sticker) in your passport and not a BRP, if you renew your passport you can continue to travel in and out of the UK with the expired and new passports. However, this will affect your right to work and rent in the UK. Please see the UKCISA website for further information
Overstaying and visa refusals

You should always ensure that you either leave the UK or apply to extend your visa on or before your current expiry date. If you don’t you will become an ‘overstayer’, which is an illegal status in the UK. Being an overstayer means that you have no immigration permission to remain here and the rights you had under your Tier 4 visa (such as working rights) are no longer valid. Students can also become an overstayer after receiving a visa refusal/invalid application, or if their visa is curtailed by UKVI and they don’t leave the UK before their new expiry date. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provide a overview of the consequences of becoming an overstayer. It is very important to note the following points:

  • You CAN'T make a visa application in the UK if you are an overstayer - your application will be refused (unless you meet the exceptional circumstances criteria)
  • Your bank account, driving license and right to rent in the UK can all be affected by overstaying 
  • There is a section of the immigration rules called the General grounds for refusal which state that a visa application may be refused if you have breached a condition of your leave or overstayed in the past. If you overstay for more than 30 days, future visa applications will normally be refused for a 12 month period. You will have to declare any period of overstay on all future immigration applications so it's important to note that this could lead to a refusal in the future, even if you are subsequently granted a visa. The UKVI general grounds for refusal also include other reasons where you may receive a visa refusal, for example, if you have received a criminal conviction or where you have failed to disclose a criminal conviction when you were required to do so.
  • If working you should stop immediately as you no longer have the right to work as an overstayer
  • Your access to free hospital treatment in the UK will be affected. Please note that while Accident and Emergency care is free to everyone in the UK, if you were admitted into hospital you would be charged 150% of the cost of the treatment. Further details on access to healthcare in the UK can be found on the UKCISA pages.
  • If you intend to make a UK residency application in the future (apply to live here on a permanent basis) then having been an overstayer at some point may affect this
  • If you were to be stopped by an immigration official (or arrested by the police) you could face deportation from the UK.

The university has strict policies on overstaying and you will be immediately withdrawn from your course if you are in the UK as an overstayer. You must contact an international student adviser for advice urgently.

Studying on work visas

The university does not normally permit full-time study on a work visa (such as Tier 1, Tier 2, certain Tier 5 categories, Turkish ECCA Businesspersons etc.) and you would be expected to be registered part-time on one of these visas. If you are thinking of switching from your Tier 4 visa into a work related visa you should seek advice from an international student adviser.

Student immigration guide

International Student Support

E international.support@sussex.ac.uk
T +44 (0)1273 67 8422