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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello – first post from an appreciative reader!

I am an Canadian doctoral student based at a UK university on a Tier 4 visa which is soon due to expire. I am primarily living, however, in the Middle East right now, where I am writing up my thesis (and where my wife has a job). My university and supervisor know where I am and we are in regular touch.

In light of this situation, I am trying to decide whether to return to the UK to apply to extend my Tier 4, or let it expire (which I know means losing the possibility of the Doctoral Extension Scheme) as long as I can still return for my viva. So, I have two questions:

1. If I let my Tier 4 expire, do you think I will be able to return to the UK on a Short-term student visa for my viva examination, even though I will technically still be a long-term student registered at a UK university? (My university tells me that the new visitor rules have changed Student Visitor to Short-term Student, and they don't know yet if this change of wording will effect long-term students returning for thesis submission or viva).

2. If I decide to apply to renew my Tier 4, I understand I can only do that from within the UK, so I would return to the UK to apply. Do you think my having been away from the UK from October 2014-now (aside from two multi-day visits) has violated my Tier 4 visa, or might raise flags or cause trouble if I apply to renew it?

Thanks for reading and any advice you might have!
 

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#2 No.
#1 This is up to you. I'd have thought that you should be able to return to UK for viva voce as visitor, though I don't know after a recent change in rules (university employs registered advisors so they should be well informed and in a position to guide you on this).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Joppa! Your answer to #2 is a relief.
About #1, I did contact my university immigration advisors prior to posting here, but they said that both they and UKCISA did not yet know how the recent change would effect students returning for vivas – so my post above was in hopes that someone might have recent experience with this.

In case anyone searches the forum in the future looking for info on this topic, here is what my university advisors wrote to me:

"The new visitor rules have changed Student Visitor to Short-term Student and this is supposed to be purely a change of name. However, we are not completely sure how using this route to return for a viva, corrections etc. will be perceived by Border Force Officers while you are a long term student completing a doctorate. We are still waiting for confirmation that this will be acceptable as confirmed by UKCISA". They then quote UKCISA: "Short-term Students: We have outstanding questions on other uses of the route, eg short-term entry to complete courses including doctorates."

Hopefully the answer will become clear down the road, as this issue arises for more students.
 
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