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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

Exempt courses

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

Academic Progression

  • 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 Appendix 6, must apply for an ATAS clearance certificate via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website
  • 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

Maintenance Requirements

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

Academic Progression

  • 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

Contact us

International Student Advisory Centre
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3645
Email: isac@kingston.ac.uk

International students
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