The Home Office recently announced changes to the Immigration rules for students in July which come into effect over the next few months. Here is a brief summary:
Currently, there is a maximum time limit (“cap”) on studying with a Tier 4 visa, and as from 03 August 2015, the way in which the Home Office will calculate if you have reached the maximum time limit is being changed. Currently the Home Office disregards the period of time before and after your course starts (but which period forms part of your leave) in calculating whether you have reached the limit. So, for example if your course starts 28 days after your grant of leave, that 28 day period will not form part of their calculation in whether you have reached the cap.
However if you make your Tier 4 application on or after 03 August 2015 the extra period of leave, both before and after your course, will be included by the Home Office in calculating whether you have reached the three-year or five year cap.
There are changes to the financial requirements that Tier 4 visa holders are required to meet. These to Tier 4 applications made on or after 12 November 2015. Currently, if you are studying outside of London, you require £820 for each month of your course, up to a maximum of £7,300 for a course lasting nine months or more. After 12 November 2015, this will increase to £1,015 per month (maximum £9,135), and if studying in London, it will increase from £1,020 to £1,265.
Further, as from 12 November 2015, the Rule around established presence, which allowed students applying to extend their leave within the UK if they had an established presence, to show only two months’ maintenance, is being removed.
Restrictions on extensions
There are further restrictions on students seeking to extend their stay in the UK. Currently, in order to apply for a new Tier 4 visa in the UK, a student’s new course of studies must start no more than twenty-eight days after the end of their current leave, and only individuals who were last granted leave in certain categories – Tier 4 (General) student, Tier 4 (Child) student, Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) migrant, and Tier 2 migrant could extend their leave.
On or after 12 November 2015, in order to make an extension application in the UK, you will only be able to apply in the UK if your current Tier 4 visa is sponsored by a UK-recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution; or an overseas higher education institution, and you have been undertaking a short-term study abroad programme in the UK, or an embedded college offering pathway courses.
Right to work
There are some students whose right to work is also being affected. Those who make new applications under Tier 4 (General) on or after 03 August 2015 to study at a publicly funded further education college will no longer be allowed to work, except where undertaking a work placement as part of the course.
There have also been changes in relation to academic progression, so that university students are only permitted to extend their studies at the same academic level if the course that they wish to study is linked to their previous course.