UKBA issues guidance for London Metropolitan University students

The United Kingdom Border Agency (the UKBA) has issued guidance for students from outside the European Economic Area who were intending to study at London Metropolitan in the coming academic year. Last Wednesday, 29th August 2012, the UKBA withdrew LMU's Highly Trusted Sponsor status. This means that non-EEA students can no longer study at LMU; their Tier 4 UK student visas will be revoked unless they can find another education provider to sponsor them. The UKBA placed the guidance on its website on Friday, 31st August 2012.

The UKBA informs students that a taskforce is being created to help them. The taskforce will include staff from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Universities UK, The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the UKBA and The National Union of Students. The taskforce will 'try to help appropriately qualified genuine students to find another education provider to sponsor them, provided they meet the requirements to study in the UK under Tier 4'.

The UKBA issued differing advice to students depending on their status and circumstances. Current students at LMU with a current, valid Tier 4 visa are informed that the UKBA will write to them at some point after 1st October. They will have 60 days from the receipt of that letter to find another educational institution to sponsor them. If a student manages to find another sponsor, he will be entitled to stay in the country. Students are warned that Tier 4 requirements may have changed since they made their initial application for a Tier 4 visa. For example, English language requirements changed in 2011.

Students are also told that they may be able to apply to switch to a different immigration category, for example one of the categories for working in the UK. In order to do this, they will need to find a sponsor.

If LMU students cannot find a sponsor, they will lose the right to stay in the UK and will be expected to leave the country before the end of the 60 day period. These rules also apply to students who are sponsored by LMU but are studying at one of LMU's education partners, such as the London School of Business and Finance.

Students from outside the European Economic Area who have not yet begun their studies at LMU but are intending to begin their studies this year are warned that they will not now be entitled to do so. If they already have a Tier 4 visa, it will be cancelled. If they have received a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies certificate from LMU but have not yet applied for a visa, they are told not to do so as their application will be refused.

Affected students are warned that, if they have their Tier 4 visa cancelled and are required to leave the UK, any members of their families who came to the UK as their dependants will also have their permission to stay in the UK cancelled.

The UKBA has sent staff to a help centre established by LMU that will answer queries from affected students. The telephone number is +44 (0) 207133 4141.

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