Taking leave/absence from your programme
UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) policy requires the University to confirm you are ‘maintaining contact’ with the institution during your studies. This is done using a combination of monitoring engagement and a number of face-to-face checks with the Visa and International Support team at the University during the academic year.
In line with this policy, you need to get formal approval from the University for any period of absence of 5 days or more outside University holiday periods. This includes taking leave due to pregnancy. Failure to do this may have direct implications on your visa and could result in your Tier 4/Student visa sponsorship being withdrawn.
As a student wishing to take a period of absence from your programme of study during term time you must request a period of ‘authorised absence’.
When is ‘authorised absence’ required?
A request for authorised absence is required for any period of 5 days or more when:
- You are undertaking research/field work outside the UK
- You are going on an exchange programme outside the UK
- You are requiring a period of absence and remaining in the UK
- You are requiring a period of absence outside the UK
- You are not in the UK because you are attending a work placement or internship which is an assessed part of your programme
- Maternity leave
How to apply
Any request for absence should be made directly to your school office. You will be required to give details of your absence to state your expected return date. Your request will be sent to the Visa & International Support team who will consider the amount of time you need away and your visa end date. This is done to determine whether (UKVI) will need to be informed of your time away or not.
If your absence is not approved
Whilst there are no ‘sanctions’ relating to individual instances of unauthorised absence, a poor overall attendance record can have serious consequences relating to the student’s academic performance, progression, professional accreditation or fitness to practice. In the event of serious failure to attend classes, the ultimate outcome could be academic sanctions or even termination of study on the grounds of failure to make satisfactory progress. This will also be taken into account should the student require a visa extension or any new period of sponsorship.
Managing your absence
All students returning from a period of authorized absence will be contacted by the Visa & International team prior to the anticipated date of return. You will be advised of anything you need to do in order to be able to re-engage with your studies.
If your return date has changed you must inform the Visa and International Support team and your School Office. The Visa and International Support team will record the revised return date on your record and determine whether any further actions are required in terms of UKVI regulations.
Absence length between 5 and 59 days – this is a period of ‘Authorised Leave’.
The University will record your absence on your student record and will not inform UKVI of your absence. You can use an existing Tier 4/Student Visa to re-enter the UK and return to studies.
Absence length more than 60 days - this is a period of ‘Suspended Study’
The University will record your absence on your student record and will inform UK Visas and Immigration that you are not attending the University. Your Tier 4/Student Visa sponsorship will be withdrawn.
You will be required to leave the UK during the period for which you are not sponsored. UKVI will write to you and advise you of the date that your visa will be curtailed to.
You will not be able to use the same visa to re-enter the UK and must apply for a new visa before you return to Edinburgh Napier. If you intend to return on a Student Visa, you will need a new CAS letter and will need to apply for a new visa to return to Edinburgh Napier. You can contact the Visa & International Support Team for advice on how to apply for your new visa by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling +44 131 455 2272.
Returning to University to complete reassessment only
If you intend to return to the UK only to complete your reassessment and submit your work, you can apply for a Student Visitor visa, which allows you a maximum of 6 months in the UK. However there are some restrictions which you should carefully consider before you choose this option. You can contact the Visa & International Support Team for advice on the best option by emailing email@example.com or calling +44 131 455 2272.
Deciding not to returning to the University
If following a period of authorised absence you decide you will not return to your studies, the relevant reporting to UKVI will be completed and your Tier 4/Student visa sponsorship will be withdrawn.
Your studies will subsequently be considered and awarded at the next appropriate Programme Board and the decision communicated to you directly. Your School Office can guide you during this process.
If you wish to suspend your studies for maternity reasons the University will only continue to sponsor your Tier 4/Student Visa for a maternity suspension of up to 60 days. You may be required to provide medical evidence confirming that you are pregnant to your school office.
Your absence will be reported to UKVI as a ‘Change of Circumstances’ as stated above, and the University will continue to sponsor your Tier 4/Student visa during this 60 day period. After the end of the 60 day period you are expected to return to your full-time studies and continue as normal.
You will be required to maintain regular contact with their School during suspension as required under Tier 4/Student visa attendance monitoring arrangements.
Maternity suspension of 60 days or more
Suspensions of 60 days or more mean that you will not be engaged in your studies for a significant period of time. Therefore, the University will report to UKVI that it is no longer sponsoring your Tier 4/Student Visa. A report made to UKVI will prompt the issuance of a Curtailment Letter limiting your Tier 4/Student Visa to 60 days.
For further information about authorised absence please contact the Visa and International Support team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0131 455 2272.