Now students face the axe!
The UK Government has made yet another set of changes to the points-based system, this time targeting the Tier 4 (students) and Tier 1 (Post-study work) categories.
The changes, effective April next year are a direct consequence of a major public consultation exercise which was carried out in order to reform the existing Tier 4 route.
These have been summarised as below:-
The UK Border Agency has confirmed that with effect from April 2012, any educational institution wishing to sponsor students will need to be classed as a Highly Trusted sponsor, and will also be required to be accredited by either Ofsted or its devolved equivalents, QAA, the Independent Schools Inspectorate, the Bridge Schools Inspectorate or the Schools Inspection Service.
During the transition period there will be an interim limit on numbers sponsored by those who do not meet the above criteria.
Private education providers will be able to provide courses, including pathway courses, by working in partnership and where the licensed sponsor takes responsibility and sponsors the student directly.
2. English Language Requirement
Students wishing to study a degree course will need to speak English at B2 level, which is higher than the current B1 level requirement.
In addition to this, visa issuing posts have been given powers to refuse entry to students who are unable to speak English without an interpreter.
3. Evidence of Funds
All Tier 4 applicants will be required to sign a declaration that the funds they show in order to meet the maintenance requirement are genuinely available to them for study in the UK.
The UK Border Agency will refuse applications where bank statements submitted by Tier 4 applicants are from a bank which the UK Border Agency is not able to verify.
The UK Border Agency has indicated that they will soon publish a list of prescribed banks.
4. Working Rights
The UK Border Agency will only allow students at universities and publicly funded further education colleges to work in the UK.
Students at universities will retain their right to work 20 hours a week part-time and to do work placements where the study to work ratio is 50:50.
Students at publicly funded colleges will continue to be able to work 10 hours a week part-time.
All other students will have no right to work.
5. Course Duration
The UK Border Agency has confirmed that they will limit the overall time that can be spent on a student visa to three years at lower levels i.e. NQF 3-5 and five years at higher levels i.e. NQF 6-7.
The UK Border Agency will have exceptions for courses at a higher level e.g. a PhD as well as for those courses which require as a matter of professional qualification a longer duration than five years (e.g. medicine, architecture).
Only postgraduate students at universities and government-sponsored students where the course duration is longer than 12 months will be able to bring their dependants to the UK. Such dependants will be able to work in the UK.
7. Tier 1 (Post-Study Work)
The UK Border Agency has confirmed that the Tier 1 (Post-study work) route will close from April 2012. Only those students who graduate from a UK university with a recognised degree, PGCE, or PGDE will be able to switch into Tier 2.
In addition to the above changes, the UK Border Agency has proposed a new entrepreneur route for students who have an innovative business idea who will be able to remain in the UK after completing their course of study in order to develop their business proposition.
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.