I just recently submitted my application for UK Tier 4 Visa and I realised I might have made an error that could be damaging to my application with regards to writing an accurate description of my purpose of visit to the UK in 2014. To begin with, in 2014, I visited the UK on a Student/Tourist Visa for 4 months (student/visitor visa allows one to stay up to 6 months). The exact purpose of that trip was to visit a university professor and talk about research projects and at the same time I did some work on a personal project that both the professor and I agreed on verbally on my own personal capacity at home (i.e the place I stay near the university). Note that I was not at all affiliated, paid or was under any kind of contract -- the whole thing was an informal interaction with the professor.

Now, in my application, I noted the purpose of the trip was "Volunteer research assistant at the [name] university". However, I realised now that this sounds very misleading in the sense that I might have spent my time in the UK as an unpaid worker which is not permitted. Now, I am very worried that my application will get rejected base on a narrow interpretation of my statement. Is there anything I can do about this? Note that I have travelled in the UK after that year and the UK borders did ask me about my 4 months stay and they were OK with it since I was able to explain my true intent of my visit.

As I have said, I felt it sounded dodgy because it sounded as if I worked in the UK as a unpaid worker which is really not true at all. I simply visited the professor in the university and discuss about a project that we can work together but of course, I was not funded for doing it and I funded my own stay at the university. I simply ask if she can propose something so that I can research on it on my own time for my own personal development towards academia. I stay in the UK within my time limit so that I can interact with her during her office hours while I work on the project at my own room that I stay near the university since I was not at all affiliated. The thing was I was trying to summarise what I did in a few words, and I did not know how to describe what I did and so I thought "volunteer research assistant" but I later realized that it could mean formally as unpaid work and can claim benefits etc. which in no way I have access to these benefits. I think a better description would be "visiting Professor at [name] university" because I am not at all affiliated with the university and this is key. Anyway, I would like your thoughts on this matter.

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    Why did you have to agree with the professor to work on a personal project in your personal time? If you consider a description of something you did during your last visit to the UK to sound dodgy, maybe it is simply because what you did was dodgy? Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


You are having post-submission anxiety. This happens when a person submits their application (once the fee has been collected), and then they start to brood over the various possibilities for refusing the application. The pattern for post-submission anxiety invariably leads to panic'd questions on the net.

As seen above and below you have created three accounts within the space of several hours. It's normal for that to happen although three accounts is a bit toppy.

If we say 'yes' it matters, or if we say 'no' it doesn't matter it will make no difference because your application is in the pipeline already. Having said that, and based upon what you wrote (in your four articles above and below), I think you were in breach and the prof who led you to it should be spanked because he should know better. If you wrote it down in your application it probably appears elsewhere and that's a bad thing.

However, you were honest about it in your application and that's a big plus. If your application was otherwise spotless, I don't think it will be a big deal and the ECO will grant a concession in your favour.

Technicalities. If you worked in your room, if you worked out of a personal ambition, if you got paid or just got brownie points with the prof, it's still work and you were in breach if your account of the situation is complete. Trying to mitigate it with all those things hurts you. You signed an agreement with the UK government and were aware of what was happening. All questions should be brought to the Institution's Authorising Officer at the time they arise.

I do not think it will be a show-stopper, but it doesn't matter what I think or what anybody else on the net thinks, the application has gone in! It's post-submission anxiety. There's nothing to be done until the VAC advises you that your passport is ready to collect. Brass it out. And get some sleep. And stop creating new accounts on the site.

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    +1 obviously but I think there is another interesting question hidden here: could the OP improve their situation (i.e. hiding something unpleasant that has been written in the application) by revoking their visa application or will the documents be on the record forever once submitted? Also does it make a difference that the OP likely did academic work, which would be rather akin to studying than working in some circumstances?
    – mts
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 19:29
  • @mts, once the fee is debited end of story. Most people don't get post-submission anxiety until 18 - 24 hours after biometrics so it's the OP's own indication.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 19:32
  • How do you tell whether someone is working or playing, if they are not being compensated in any way for the activity? Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 19:33
  • @PatriciaShanahan the topic of compensation isn't mentioned anywhere in the rules about working. It's irrelevant. Honestly, check it out.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Aug 30, 2016 at 19:37

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