Second set of changes announced to the UK tier 4 student visa

13 June 2011

A second set of changes in the UK Immigration Rules the UK Tier 4 Student Visa has been laid before Parliament. The changes will come in to force on 4 July 2011. On 22 March the Home Secretary announced initial changes to the Immigration rules following a public consultation on reforming Tier 4 of the UK points-based system. These initial changes came in to effect on 21 April 2011.

The revised changes announced in the second set of changes is to reform and refine the student visa category further to ensure that only genuine students come to the UK to study at genuine educational institutions throughout the UK.

The main changes will:

  • restrict work entitlements to migrants studying at higher educational institutions (HEIs) and publicly funded further education colleges only;
  • restrict the sponsorship of dependants to those studying at postgraduate level at HEIs on courses lasting at least 12 months, and government-sponsored students on courses lasting at least 6 months;
  • require education providers to vouch that a new course represents genuine academic progression;
  • ensure that maintenance funds are genuinely available to the applicant, by introducing a declaration on the visa application form;
  • commit to publish a list of financial institutions that we consider, on the basis of experience, do not verify financial statements to our satisfaction in more than 50 per cent of a sample of cases;
  • introduce a streamlined application process for low-risk nationals applying to attend courses with Highly Trusted Sponsors;
  • extend the list of courses for which students must receive ATAS clearance;
  • restrict the ability to deliver accountancy courses accredited by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) to those sponsors accorded platinum or gold status by ACCA; and clarify the position of overseas universities with campuses in the UK.

There are also a small number of minor changes to the immigration rules as follows:

  • a new provision for other family members of refugees and beneficiaries of humanitarian protection;
  • a minor correction to the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) provisions and clarify a requirement of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) and Tier 1 (Investor) Rules; and
  • a small number of minor corrections and technical changes to the Rules relating to English language requirements for partners and spouses.