UK Tier 4 visa restrictions eased for international students

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UK Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, previously announced that for nationals of some Countries Tier 4 visa restrictions have been eased so simplifying the application process. Some international students coming on an UK visa to study at the country’s universities will no longer have to prove they can speak English or provide evidence that they have the funds to support themselves while in Britain.

Sanwar Ali comment:

A rethink of visa categories is a good thing.  We have seen an overly bureaucratic and expensive visa system that is also unjust and unfair.  If Brexit does eventually happen a different type of UK visa system is needed. Perhaps with Sajid Javid as Home Secretary the necessary reforms will take place.

We are still waiting to see if there will be simplified Tier 2 visa and Tier 2 Sponsor Licence procedures post Brexit.  The current UK visa system is not really suitable to deal with an increased level of demand for UK visas post-Brexit (if it ever happens).

Mr Javid simplified the Tier 4 Student visa process for those applying from countries he deems to be the most ‘low risk’ in terms of abusing the system. The Home Secretary’s decision paves the way for tens of thousands of international students to attend the country’s leading universities, which has angered some critics.

Those opposed to relaxing restrictions argue that Britain is ‘opening its borders’ to potentially bogus or underqualified students who will attempt to beat border controls and potentially slip through the net. However, the Home Office insists that there is no evidence that students from the countries involved have exploited the system.

Home Office officials say that random spot-checks will prevent abuse of the system.

Relaxed UK visa rules for some Countries

A relaxing of Tier 4 visa restrictions comes as part of wider UK visa reforms spearheaded by Mr Javid since he was installed as Home Secretary. Significant changes to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, the introduction of a new Start-up visa and the removal of doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 visa cap, have been the highlights of his tenure so far.

In particular, changes to the Tier 2 visa rules will allow the NHS to hire more foreign staff, freeing up other businesses and employers to recruit an estimated 8,000 extra skilled, non-EU workers including engineers, IT professionals and teachers.

As part of the Tier 4 visa shakeup, the Home Office added 11 nations to its ‘trusted’ list for the purpose of making the student visa application process much easier. The countries added to the list – Bahrain, Cambodia, China, Dominican Republican, Indonesia, Kuwait, Macau, Maldives, Mexico, Serbia and Thailand – brings the list total to 30.

Students from these nations applying for a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK will benefit from a streamlined process, requiring fewer documents to support their applications.

Tier 4 visa no funding evidence needed

What critics consider to be a ‘controversial move’, sees international students made exempt from providing evidence of funds of up to £1,265 to support themselves while studying in the UK. The decision to remove criteria such as proof of English speaking capabilities and previous qualifications has also been slammed by some quarters.

In the year to March 2018, data shows that a total of 100,769 students from the 11 nations added to the trusted list were granted permission to study in the UK.

Universities welcome Tier 4 visa changes

The changes announced by Sajid Javid were widely welcomed by UK universities, who have lobbied extensively for foreign student restrictions to be eased. Senior education officials argue that international students contribute £2.3 billion to Britain’s economy every year.

However, MigrationWatch warned that Sajid Javid’s announcement could signal a ‘slippery slope’, saying: “The last time the student visa system was loosened in 2009 it took years to recover from the massive inflow of bogus students, especially from India.”

Countries on the ‘trusted’ Student visa list prior to the addition of the 11 new nations include: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Botswana, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, the USA and Taiwan.   

Further information, help, and advice for Tier 4 Student visa and other types of UK Visa’s team of specialists has over 30 years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the UK. We represent clients under Section 84 of the 1999 Immigration Act, and we can advise and assist with your UK visa application.

For more information and advice on UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at