Latest visa news
Effective from 6 April 2017
17 March 2017 - Immigration
was published on 16 March and the changes came into force on 6 April.
The changes of main interest to international students and their institutions are listed below.
Concession for Syrian Nationals
- The concession for Syrian nationals who are in the UK has been extended from 1 March 2017. It expires on 28 February 2018.
Leave to remain
- People with one of the ‘old' categories of leave, including Tier 1 (Post-Study Work), are no longer allowed to extend their stay in the UK using the Tier 4 (General) student category. However, pre-Tier 4 students can still apply in the UK for Tier 4 (Child) student leave.
- The 28-day provision that permits a leave to remain application if the course start date on the CAS date is no more than 28 days after leave expires has been amended to bring it in line with the 14-day provision that was introduced in November last year. This means that students can apply for Tier 4 (General) or Tier 4 (Child) student leave if the course start date on their CAS is within 28 days after their current leave expires, or is within 28 days after one of the events listed in paragraph 39E(2)(b), for example, the date of a refusal, expiry of leave extended by section 3C, expiry of the time limit for applying for administrative review or any administrative review proceedings having ended. The student must still apply for new leave, if you sponsor overstayers, within 14 days of one of those events, but the course start date can be up to 28 days after it.
- Premium service centre applicants will have 45 business, as opposed to calendar, days in which to attend an appointment – this change affects all categories of leave
- A new paragraph 34BB means that UKVI caseworkers will treat an application submitted before a previous application has been decided as an application to vary the outstanding application. We assume this is to prevent people from attempting to preserve rights of appeal by submitting an application under the Immigration Rules and a human rights application simultaneously, which was possible if leave was not extended by section 3C. This change affects all categories of leave.
- In addition to the parental letter of consent to care arrangements, Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) students aged under 18 must provide evidence of the relationship between them and the parent or legal guardian who writes the letter of consent in one of three specified ways
- Tier 4 (Child) students aged 16 or older can be interviewed under the ‘genuine student' test
Students sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency
The Immigration Rules now state, in line with previous versions of guidance, that Tier 4 (General) and Tier (Child) students who are sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency must provide their financial sponsor's consent to an application only if they are, or have been, wholly sponsored by an award that covers both fees and maintenance
‘Week' has been defined as "a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday" so Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) students must ensure that their working pattern and hours fit this definition by 6 April. Therefore, students, employers and sponsors need to make sure that they adhere to this definition to remain compliant with the Immigration Rules. This change brings clarity to both students and employers, who have in the past grappled with the definition of the working week with some applying a "rolling week" definition.
General grounds for refusal
- The trigger for an automatic refusal of entry clearance under paragraph 320(7B) will be reduced from 90 to 30 days, unless the period of overstay started before 6 April 2017, in which case the 90-day period is still applicable. A new paragraph 320(7BB) sets out the periods of overstay that will be disregarded, including cases where overstayers applied for leave to remain within the ‘disregarded' 28-day and 14-day periods of overstay. This means that it is even more important that students and their dependants retain all evidence of applications, refusals, administrative review applications and decisions if they ever overstay. This change affects all categories of leave, though the equivalent provisions for visitors are in Appendix V.
- Failure to provide a criminal record certificate when required will be removed from the general grounds for refusal, and instead the requirement to submit one will be inserted into the relevant categories: Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Investor), specified Tier 2 migrants and the partners of such people if they apply for PBS dependant leave. This provision does not yet affect Tier 4 students or their dependants.
The circumstances in which caseworkers may exercise evidential flexibility can be set out in provisions other than paragraph 245AA(b). This affects all categories that specify such circumstances – it does not yet affect Tier 4.
- The loans concession introduced in the 14 February version of the Tier 4 policy guidance has been incorporated into the Immigration Rules for Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) students so Tier 4 leave should now be granted, not leave outside the Rules.
- A couple of changes have been made to the list of acceptable banks in India in Appendix P.
- A Tier 4 (Child) student who is older than 12 can rely on the maintenance provision for students whose parent is in the UK under the Parent of a Tier 4 (Child) student if a parent is in the UK on that basis in relation to a younger sibling.
Other changes to Tier 4
- References to the NQF and CQF are replaced by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF); course levels remain the same – this affects Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child).
- Tier 4 (General) probationary sponsors will be able to offer courses at level 3 to students aged under 18.
- The current concession in document 2 of the sponsor guidance for intercalating students has been inserted into the provisions that provide an exception to the Tier 4 (General) academic progress requirement.
- The requirement for USA study abroad students applying under Tier 4 (General) to provide UK NARIC confirmation of the level of their course has been removed, in line with the current concession in the sponsor guidance.
- A new three-year limit on study below degree level has been introduced for specific courses which require students to spend at least 12 months at sea.
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
- People with leave under the ‘old' categories of leave are no longer permitted to apply in the UK under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur).
- The process for allocating endorsements will be relaxed including the removal of deadlines for requesting additional endorsements.
- Endorsements must contain the applicant's passport number, rather than the current passport number - it's not clear what practical difference this makes .
- A change to Appendix B means that applicants relying on a qualification from an English-speaking country, other than a UK degree awarded by their endorsing body, require confirmation that the English level of the course was ‘at the appropriate level', not level C1.
- People with leave under the ‘old' student categories are no longer able to apply in the UK under Tier 2, and in line with this are no longer required to provide the consent of a government or international scholarship agency, but those with Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) leave can still apply for leave to remain.
- A criminal record certificate is required for specified occupation codes (mainly health, social work and education).
- Tier 4 students who study or work in Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man after their UK course has ended will not break their continuity of leave for the purposes of applying in the UK and being exempt from the resident labour market test.
- The minimum wage for an indefinite leave application on or after 6 April 2022 will be £37,900.
- A certificate of sponsorship is not valid if Immigration Skills Charge has not been paid, if applicable. UK graduates will usually be exempt from the Immigration Skills Charge; for details, see which come into force on 6 April.
- University milkrounds for the purposes of the resident labour market test no longer require advertising on specified websites, but the website used must not charge jobseekers fees for viewing or applying for jobs; applicants must be offered the job within 12 months (currently six) of the end of the recruitment exercise.
- The post-study work exemption from the resident labour market test is restricted to those with Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) or Tier 4 leave.
- All the Codes of Practice in Appendix J (for Tier 2 and Tier 5 jobs) have been replaced.
Tier 5 (Youth Mobility)
Applicants from Taiwan will be subject to the invitation to apply arrangements that currently apply in Japan.
The following changes are being introduced to the RLMT requirements:
- The RLMT is being waived for creative jobs on the Shortage Occupation List in the Creative and Sporting sub-category.
- The RLMT is being waived where a performer is required for continuity or is engaged by a unit company in relation to productions outside the UK, rather than outside the EEA, as at present.
Appendix V has been amended to make it clear that entry clearance applications can be made to a post anywhere outside the UK designated to accept such applications.
Changes effective from 24th November 2016
Applications from students who have overstayed in the UK, will only be accepted if submitted within 14 days of the leave expiring.
English Language requirements
Where relying on the exemption from a SELT because a student has obtained a qualification to a Bachelors, Masters or PhD in the UK from a majority English speaking country, they will need to include an original document from to confirm the equivalency. If the qualification was gained in the UK, it must be Bachelors, Masters or PhD and not an equivalent of these.
Where documents in a series are missing eg bank statements, the start and end of that series must also be included. If further documentation is requested, this will be requested only once and must be received within 10 working days of the request.
Maintenance for dependants
When calculating how much money a dependant needs to show in support of their immigration application, this will now depend upon the length of the students immigration permission and not the length of the student's course.
For further information visit
If a student is applying for a new visa in the UK because they have completed re-sits or repeat teaching, they no longer need to meet the academic progression requirements. This means that students are not required to return home to extend their visas and can apply from within the UK. Students who are applying to extend their leave and move to a higher level course can now do so from within the UK if they are studying an integrated Masters course eg MEng, and progressing from the lower to higher level of qualification
- Tier 4 students applying for Tier 2 (General) can no longer rely on a qualification for exemption from the Resident Labour Market Test where that qualification was gained as a result of ‘supplementary study' (this applies to all Certificates of Sponsorship assigned on or after 24 November 2016)
- With effect from various dates in November and December 2016, there are changes to Tier 2 concerning minimum salaries, recruitment exercises, and also nurses and midwives. Note that the existing minimum salary of £20,800 is retained for some groups, including many of those who switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2.
- There are some small but notable changes to the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme (coming in to force from 1 January 2017) please see below:
- Australia loses 10,000 places, New Zealand gains 1,000 places, and Canada gains 500 places. Taiwan gains deemed sponsorship status
- Some new arrangements for applicants from Japan, whereby interested individuals have to submit an expression of interest, and the Home Office then invite only a limited number of them (selected at random) to apply
For further information visit
Changes effective from 6 April 2016
Applying in the UK
Students sponsored by an independent School
Are allowed to apply for a new Tier 4 (General) visa from within the UK, rather than having to go home to apply
Students sponsored by a publicly-funded further education college or by a private college
Tier 4 (General) student applicants who have Tier 4 (General) student leave can-not apply in the UK if they are currently sponsored by a publicly-funded further education college or by a private college that is not an embedded college
(KULISC students can make applications from inside the UK subject to meeting other requirements)
Changing course with same sponsor
A Tier 4 student who wants to change course with the same Tier 4 sponsor can do this without first making a new immigration application only if his or her study condition allows it. The new study condition to which Tier 4 (General) students who apply on or after 6 April 2016 are subject, allows a change of course if:
- The previous course has not been completed
- The new course can be completed within the period of leave the student already has been granted
- The new course is at degree level and not at a lower level than the previous course
- In all other cases, students applying after the 6th April 2016 will need to apply for fresh entry clearance if they are making any changes to their courses that require additional time e.g. Adding an extra year of study to their programme for a work placement
- The study condition to which Tier 4 (Child) students who apply on or after 6 April 2016 are subject allows a change of course if the previous course has not been completed and the new course is at the same or a higher level than the previous course. The new course must not be a foundation course.
Time Limit (caps) on studies
Two year cap - Below degree level
- Tier 4 (General) students are subject to a limit of two years of Tier 4 leave from their 18th birthday for courses below degree level
Five-year cap on study - Degree level and above
- Tier 4 (General) students are subject to a limit of five years if studying at undergraduate (UG) and/or postgraduate (PG) level
architecture; medicine; dentistry; veterinary medicine & science; music studied at a conservatoire; Law conversion courses, the legal practice course and the bar professional training course
11 month concessions
- In the following circumstances, the two year cap is extended to two years and 11 months: If a student has never studied in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) student and The student is applying for leave to study a two year course
- If the 5-year cap would prevent a student from completing a fifth academic year at degree level or above, the time limit is extended to five years and 11 months
- If the UG course was four years long e.g. The course included a year in industry or a study year abroad and a student will follow a course of study at Masters degree level, then the time limit would be extended to six years
- If the six year limit would prevent the student from completing a sixth academic year, the limit is extended to six years and 11 months
Eight-year cap on study
Students studying a first PhD, postgraduate research or masters degree by research qualification are exempt from any time constraints, but in all circumstances where students have completed a PhD, postgraduate research or masters degree by research qualification, they will be subject to an overall limit of 8 years to complete any further studies on a Tier 4 (general) visa (inside the UK)
Note: For avoidance of doubt, the calculation of whether the applicant has exceeded the time limit will be based on previous grant of period of leave and level of course rather than (if different) periods and course actually studied
If a student has already exceeded the maximum time they will not benefit from the 11 month concession
- Students who wish to extend their Tier 4 (General) leave must be moving up a NQF Level E.g. UG - PG
- The Home Office has implemented new rules that prevent students who have not completed the course for which their Tier 4 leave was granted from applying for a new course from inside the UK. If a student has failed to complete their course they will not meet Academic Progression and they must apply from overseas
- Students are no longer able to apply for new course at a lower level than the previous course (inside the UK) as this will not represent Academic Progression
- Students who have completed a pre-sessional English language course can apply to study a substantive course and this is considered to be Academic Progress
- Students choosing to complete a second programme at the same level, can apply if the time limits are not exceeded and the new course is related to and enhances their previous Tier 4 study, OR the previous course and new course in combination supports the students genuine career aspirations
Academic progression is not required in the following cases
- A Tier 4 (Child) Student
- Applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa from overseas
- Submitting a first Tier 4 application to complete an existing course commenced at a Tier 4 sponsor that had its licence revoked
- Applying to re-sit an examination or repeat a course module
- Applying to complete a PhD or other doctoral qualification for which the last given Tier 4 or Student leave (including continuing a qualification at a new sponsor)
- Applying to complete the qualification for which a student was last given Tier 4 or Student leave after a period as a student union sabbatical officer
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
- Under the scheme ALL students requiring immigration permission wishing to undertake a qualification of more than six months of study or research in a discipline listed in must apply for an ATAS clearance certificate via the .
- Students can apply for an ATAS certificate up to nine months in advance of the starting date of their course. Early applications are strongly advised and are free of charge
- It takes a minimum of 20 working days to process an ATAS application and students cannot begin their course until they have been issued with an ATAS
Students who had to apply for a ATAS certificate before starting their course must apply for a new ATAS certificate if:
- Applying for an extension of leave in order to continue their course
- Starting a new course that requires ATAS clearance
- Moving to another institution
- Changing course
- The end date of the course is delayed by more than three calendar months (even if the student does not need to make a fresh immigration application)
- There are any changes to the course content or the research proposal
Working during studies on a Tier 4 Visa
From the 6th April 2016 Tier 4 (General) students and Tier 4 (Child) students will be prohibited from engaging in 'business activity'. The Home Office has explained this is to stop Tier 4 students from setting up businesses in the UK.
TIER 4 IMMIGRATION RULES CHANGES - This information was correct as of 04 November 2015
Changes effective from 12 November 2015
All campuses at Kingston University will be considered to be in 'inner London' for visa maintenance purposes.
This means that all continuing students who are required to extend their current visa will be required to show £1,265 a month for up to 9 months or to the course end date, whichever is the shorter.
Dependants of Tier 4 students will be required to show £845 a month for up to 9 months or to the applicant's course end date, whichever is the shorter.
Time Limit on below degree-level studies
- The length of time that a Tier 4 (General) student can spend on below degree-level courses will be reduced from three years to two, (i.e. NQF levels 3-5 and equivalents)
Preventing college students from extending their Tier 4 (General) visa or switching to other points-based routes
- Tier 4 (General) students studying at colleges cannot extend their stay in Tier 4, or switch into any other points-based route, unless they are studying at a college which UKVI classes as an 'embedded college offering pathway programmes', designed to prepare students for entry to a higher education course
- Students at other colleges, who wish to go on to study at a college or a university, must apply from outside the UK
The 'established presence' provision is being removed with the exception of those students on Tier 4 (G) visas switching into the Doctorate Extension Scheme. All students must show they have sufficient funds to support themselves for the full duration of their course, or up to nine months, whichever is shorter.
- The maintenance for a Tier 4 (General) student will increase from £820 (outer London) to £1.015 a month, and from £1,020 (inner London) to £1,265 a month
- The maintenance for a Tier 4 dependant will increase from £460 (outer London) to £680 a month, and from £615 (inner London) to £845 a month up to a maximum of 9 months (please note this is no longer applicable to Kingston University students) see above.
- The maximum amount already paid for accommodation which can be offset against the maintenance requirements is also being increased from £1,020 to £1,265 a month
Download full details of all these changes in PDF which can be found in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance Version 11/15.
Changes effective from 10 August 2015
Academic Progress and switching courses
- Students who fail to successfully complete a previous course for which they were granted Tier 4 leave will not be able to demonstrate academic progress and will have to apply from overseas if they wish to make a Tier 4 application to study a new course
Calculating periods of leave counting toward time limits
- The length of leave granted will now be taken into account to calculate the time spent at or above degree-level studies
- Time spent studying on an exempt course will only be discounted from the maximum period of study if you are studying or applying to study such a course. Previous study on an exempt course will not be discounted
To calculate leave counting towards the time limit, the proposed period of leave will be added together with any current leave. This period will be counted from:
- the date leave would begin if granted, if your application is for entry clearance; or
- the date the current period of leave began, if your application is for leave to remain, until the day the leave would expire if granted
- any previous periods of leave you have held under Tier 4 (General) and/or the Student route will be counted, where you have subsequently left the UK. This period will be counted from the date the leave began until the date it expired. If you extended your Tier 4/Student leave, or received any period of continuing leave in accordance with section 3c of the Immigration Act 1971, this will be included. If your leave was curtailed, we will take the date the curtailed leave expired
- time will be counted in months, with individual days rounded upwards or downwards to the nearest month
There are some exceptions to the 5-year cap:
- if you are applying to study a course at a higher education institution (HEI) and the 5-year cap would prevent you from completing a fifth academic year at degree level or above, then the limit is extended to five years and 11 months
- if you have successfully completed a UK degree course which was at least four years long, and you are making a Tier 4 application to study a Master's degree at a higher education institution (recognised body or institution in receipt of public funding), the limit is six years and 11 months
For the avoidance of doubt, this concession is not intended to extend the time limits for all students. Students who have already undertaken five years' academic study will not benefit.
Changes effective from 3 August 2015
- Students who wish to extend their Tier 4 (General) leave must be moving up a level on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), unless they are a university student and their new course is related to their previous Tier 4 study, or the previous course and new course in combination supports the applicant's genuine career aspirations
- If you have been studying a pre-sessional English language course and then apply to study a substantive course that will be considered to be academic progress
- If your new course is at a lower level than the previous course, it will not represent academic progression
You do not need to show academic progression in the following cases:
- you are a Tier 4 (Child) Student
- you are making a Tier 4 (General) application from overseas
- you are making a first application to complete an existing course commenced at a Tier 4 sponsor that had its licence revoked
- you are applying to re-sit an examination or repeat a course module
- you are applying to complete the PhD or other doctoral qualification for which you were last given Tier 4 or Student leave
Banning students at publicly-funded colleges from working
- work rights are being removed from new Tier 4 students applying to study at publicly-funded further education colleges, bringing them into line with students at private colleges
If you are following a course at any level with a sponsor, which is a publicly- funded further education college, only the following work is allowed:
- on a work placement as part of a course, providing the work placement does not amount to more than 33% of the course
- as a student union sabbatical officer for up to two years
If you are following a course at any level with a Tier 4 sponsor which is a private provider:
- you are not allowed to work whilst in the UK
- you can undertake a work placement that is an integral part of your course