Government sets out proposals for major reform of the student visa system
The Minister for Immigration, Damien Green has proposed tougher entrance criteria for students, limit on their work and an end to students staying in the UK to look for a job.
Launching a public consultation on the reform of Tier 4 of the points-based system, the Home Office also revealed that 41 per cent of students coming through this route were studying courses below degree level.
The consultation will run for 8 weeks, seeking views on a range of measures to reduce the number of students that can come into the UK. Proposals include:
- reducing the number of people coming to the UK to study below degree level;
- introducing a tougher English language requirement;
- ensuring that students wishing to extend their studies show evidence of academic progression;
- limiting students’ entitlements to work and their ability to bring in dependants; and
- improving the accreditation process for education providers, alongside more rigorous inspections.
The government has committed to making changes across the immigration system to achieve its overall aim of reducing net migration, in addition to the introduction of an annual limit on workers from outside Europe. The student route accounts for two-thirds of migrants entering the UK each year, which is why it is a key focus for reform.
If the proposed changes come into effect, it could see Tier 4 restricted to those studying largely degree-level courses and to child students, unless the institution is a Highly Trusted sponsor. English language competence could become the key indicator of someone’s eligibility to complete a higher-level course, and all Tier 4 applicants will have to pass a secure English language test showing competence at intermediary level B2 – a step up from the B1 currently required.
The drive to ensure that students return overseas after their course finishes will mean students will have to leave the UK and apply for a new visa to further their studies, and show evidence of progression to a higher course. It will also see the closure of the post-study route under Tier 1.
If you have any questions regarding the above or need to understand how these changes will affect you, please send an email to one of our London immigration lawyers or at firstname.lastname@example.org.