UK immigration announces changes to Tier 4 student visas

UK immigration has announced a number of changes to the Tier 4 student visa category. There will be new accreditation criteria for sponsors and tougher English language requirements. An outline of the changes is included below:

21 April 2011 Changes:

New sponsors will need to meet new educational accreditation criteria in order to be issued a Tier 4 licence.

There will be interim limit on the number of students that can be sponsored unless the sponsor meets the following requirements:

  • hold Highly Trusted Sponsor status; and
  • meet the new accreditation criteria.

B rated sponsors will only be able to assign CAS to complete a course.

There will be tougher English language requirements for Tier 4 (General) students:

  • a B1 Secure English Language Test (SELT) requirement for all courses at NQF 3-5/QCF 3-5 / SCQF 6-8 (ending the current SELT exemptions on pre-sessionals pathway /foundation degree courses);
  • a B2 SELT requirement for courses at NQF 6 /QCF 6 / SQCF 9 and above

Higher educational institutions will be allowed to make their own assessment.

Normally a CAS may only be issued in respect of a single course, except in a situation where you are attending a pre-sessional course of not more than three months' duration and you have an unconditional offer of a place at a higher education institution or at an independent school starting not more than one month after the end of the pre-sessional course.

July 2011 Changes:

  • If you are a Sponsor you will have to vouch for academic progression for students changing course, where the new course is not a step up the NQF/ QCF / SCQF scale.
  • If you are a student applying for a visa you will need to declare at the visa application stage that you hold and will continue to hold the required maintenance funds to support yourself and pay the course fees.
  • If you are a Student from a designated low-risk nationalities attending courses at Highly Trusted Sponsors you will you will not necessarily have to show documents normally asked for other students relating to maintenance and educational qualifications.
  • You will only be allowed to work during your studies if you are at an higher education institutions or publicly funded further education colleges.
  • You will only be allowed to sponsor dependents if you are a new student studying at a higher education institution on a course on NQF 7 / QCF 7 / SQCF 11 or above lasting 12 months or more.

Your dependants will be able to work.

April 2012 Changes:

  • All sponsors must have reached Highly Trusted Sponsor Status.
  • The interim limit will be extended if you are an existing sponsor and have acquired HTS status but not met the new educational accreditation requirements.
  • Courses offering work placements will have to have a study:work ratio of 66:33 except at higher education institutions.
  • You will normally only be allowed a maximum time of five years in Tier 4 studying at degree level and above; There will be exceptions for some courses and for PhD students.
  • The Tier 1 Post Study Work visa will end.
  • There will be new provisions for Student entrepreneurs.

End of 2012 Changes:

If you are a sponsors you will need to meet the new educational accreditation criteria to be able to sponsor new students.