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Academic Registry and Council Secretariat

Interruption, Withdrawal and Change of Programme – how my immigration permission is affected

Change of Programme

Welfare Advisers in the QMUL Advice and Counselling Service have written a comprehensive guide to the visa and fee implications of changes to your programme. This guide covers:

  • Interrupting
  • Withdrawing
  • Changing your programme
  • Re-sits in, or out of attendance
  • Repeating part of your studies

Exceptional sponsorship of research students during a period of interruption

The following only applies to those undertaking PhD or MPhil degrees. It doesn't apply to any other types of degree.

Normally, if you are not required to be engaging with your studies for more than 59 days, we are required by the UK Government to withdrawn sponsorship of your immigration permission.

If you are studying a PhD or MPhil degree and you are interrupting for health reasons, in some exceptional cases, we may be able to allow you to interrupt for a period of longer than 59 days, without withdrawing sponsorship of your Student Visa.

To do this, the Home Office requires that:

  • We have sufficient evidence to support our decision and we reasonably believe that you will be able to resume and complete your research within your current Student Visa; and
  • You will maintain a connection with the university for the period of your interruption.


Maternity/Paternity Leave

If you are expecting a baby, we will allow you to interrupt for up to 52 weeks. For evidence, please provide your MATB1 certificate.

Other health conditions

For any other health conditions, we will need to see a letter from a suitably qualified medical practitioner, that confirms:

  • The nature of your condition
  • How long you will need to interrupt for
  • The nature of the activity you will be undertaking during your period of interruption (e.g., counselling, surgery, recuperation, etc.).
  • Why you must stay in the UK to undertake that activity and cannot return to your home county.
  • Confirmation that it is likely, that the activity you will be undertaking during your interruption, will return you sufficient health to resume your research and complete your studies within your current visa.

Completing your studies within your current visa

Following submission of your thesis, we normally expect you to finish your studies within 7 months. The 7 months consists of an assumed 3 months to arrange a viva, 3 months to undertake minor corrections and one month to submit your final bound copy (or electronic equivalent).

We will not be able to continue to sponsor your Student Visa if you have not submitted your thesis and you would have less than 7 months of your Student Visa remaining when you return from your interruption as it would not be possible for you to complete your studies within your current visa.

If you would not have 7 months remaining, you will need to obtain an extension of your Student Visa before you interrupt.

Maintaining a connection with the university

During your interruption, you should maintain regular contact with your supervisor(s) – at least once a month. This can be in-person, by email, phone or by Teams, Zoom or FaceTime.

We recommend that this contact covers:

  • Your welfare during your interruption
  • Planning your return to study

Please make sure that your supervisor(s) keep a record of your contact. This just needs to confirm that you have had contact. It does not need to be a transcript of your contact. We may ask for a copy of this record during your interruption. If you supervisor(s) is/are not able to provide this record when requested, we will withdraw sponsorship of your Student Visa.

What if I do not meet the above requirements?

If you need to interrupt your studies and do not meet the above requirements, we will withdraw sponsorship of your visa if you interrupt for more than 59 days.

If you cannot leave the UK, you should seek advice from a qualified immigration law practitioner on staying in the UK on a different basis, not as a student.

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