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Changes to Immigration Rules - Tier 4 Student Visas

on Thursday, 01 October 2015.

The latest changes to Tier 4 (General) student visas came into effect on 10 August 2015.

This category of visa is required for overseas migrants from outside the UK and EEA aged 16 or over who want to undertake post-16 education in the UK.  The UK education provider, such as a university, has to hold a Tier 4 (General) sponsor licence.

The Recent Changes

The rules and requirements  change with great frequency and are becoming ever more complex but the latest changes include:

  • Clarification of the definition of a full time course, which includes a full time course of degree level study that leads to a UK recognised qualification at level 6 or above. Further examples have also been added to clarify the definition of a pre-sessional course which is designed to give a student fundamental training in the subject area of the main course as a stepping stone to it, eg a foundation course; foundation programme or foundation degree; or courses which form an integral part of the main course of study, or replace part of it, but which are administered separately and are not considered to be pre-sessional courses.
  • Information has been added to clarify the existing policy on supplementary study, eg evening classes or short courses studied full time during vacation periods. Supplementary study can relate to any subject, may be undertaken at any time during the period of leave granted from the main course of study and students do not need permission from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to undertake it.
  • The academic progression guidance has been re drafted with a new section added on how the UKVI will calculate time counted towards Tier 4 time limits.
  • Information on the period of leave to be granted before a course starts has been changed.
  • New information has been added to the checklist for assigning a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
  • The right to work for students studying at degree level or above and sponsored by a Higher Education Institution (HEI) remains the same - 20 hours per week during term time and full time in vacation periods.

Why is compliance important?

It is important that Tier 4 sponsors comply with their sponsorship duties, as failure to do so can result in the suspension of all tiers and then possible revocation. HEIs should also ensure that if they have a Tier 2 sponsor licence (for skilled workers) that compliance with Tier 2 is met, as if this licence is suspended, their Tier 4 sponsor licence will also be suspended. This will mean that no new CAS can be assigned to new students and so could cause significant financial loss to the institution.

How can we help?

The Immigration team at VWV offers advice and guidance on all aspects of immigration, including training for Tier 4, Tier 5 and Tier 2 providers. This can include in-house bespoke training sessions dealing with the issues relating to sponsor licence compliance. The team also offers audits of procedures and systems, to highlight any non-compliance in advance of a visit from the UKVI compliance team.

For more information please contact any member of our Employment Law team or complete the form below.


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