New rules for UK Tier 4 and Tier 1 visas for students

UK immigration has announced new rules that UK immigration says will reduce abuse of the student visa route. UK Immigration Minister Damian Green announced the complete list of changes today.

We have already reported on the forthcoming closure of the Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa route on 6 April 2012. Under this visa, students are able to work in the UK for 2 years following graduation. There will be a new Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa. However, hardly anyone will qualify for this.

The new rules also require graduates applying under Tier 2 (General) to have an offer of a skilled job at a salary of at least £20,000 (or more in some cases) from a reputable employer accredited by the UK Border Agency in order to continue living and working in the UK.

Other changes include:
  • A new Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route will be introduced, with up to 1,000 places for students working on world-class innovative ideas who want to stay and develop them but do not meet the requirements of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route. Entrepreneurs under this new route will be able to stay in the UK and switch into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route if they invest £50,000 in their business.
  • There will be an increase in the amount of money that students and working immigrants and their dependents must prove they have to support themselves financially during their time in the UK.
  • Work placements will be restricted to one-third of the course time for international students who are studying below degree level on Tier 4 Student Visas. The rules for students studying at degree level or above will remain the same. Students at this level will be able spend half their time at work placement so long as at least the other half their time comprises of formal studies.
  • The time that can be spent studying at degree level on a Tier 4 Student Visa will be restricted to a general limit of 5 years.
"It is vital that we continue to attract the brightest and the best international students, but we have to be more selective about who can come here and how long they can stay," said Green.
"With the introduction of the Graduate Entrepreneur route and the restrictions on student work, we are reforming the system to deliver immigration to benefit Britain."

Additionally, UK immigration announced they are preparing to introduce further changes to UK Immigration Rules for employment related settlement (permanent residents), overseas domestic workers, and Tiers 2 and 5 of the points-based system. Further announcements regarding these changes, which are also planned for April, will be made as soon as possible.

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