The introduction of the Student visa route from 5 October 2020 does not affect existing Tier 4 visas. If you already have a Tier 4 visa you can use it to enter the UK at any point during its validity to start or continue the studies for which it was issued.
You can also use a still valid ("extant") Tier 4 or Student visa to re-enter the UK after your studies have finished, for example to make a new Student route application in the UK for a new course, if you wish and if you are eligible. If you prefer, you can also apply for the new Student visa in your home country. You can apply in your home country at any time, whether your previous Tier 4 visa has expired or not.
Warning: The provision to re-enter the UK on an extant Tier 4 or Student visa after your sponsored course has finished is not a general principle that applies across all types of visa. For example, someone with a Tier 2 visa for sponsored work can only use it to enter the UK to start or continue their sponsored work, not for a different purpose if they are no longer working.
If you do intend to travel to the UK on an extant Tier 4 visa, we advise that you make three checks before using it to travel to the UK:
First, check that you are eligible to apply for under the Student route within the UK anyway (see Making a Student route application in the UK). If not, you will need to apply from your home country.
Second, check that you meet all of these requirements:
- the institution you are returning to study at has a Student sponsor licence, and they have agreed to sponsor you (or continue to sponsor you); and
- you have not been reported to the Home Office as having finished your most recent course early, interrupted your studies, or having not enrolled. If the institution that sponsored your current Tier 4 visa has reported one of these matters, it is likely that your visa might already have been 'curtailed' and is no longer valid; and
- you are eligible and can meet the requirements to make Student route application from within the UK
Third, carry in your hand luggage evidence to show the Border Force Officer that you will be making a new immigration application before your current permission expires. At the minimum, this would be evidence that you have already been issued a CAS from your new sponsor institution. If you have other evidence, for example some of the documents you will be providing as part of your upcoming Student route application, keep them in your hand luggage for possible checking. The Border Force Officer cannot issue you with a Student visa on arrival, but they can allow you to enter the UK in order to make the application.