The government continues to target the Tier 4 (General) student visa category by making it more difficult for non-EU students to remain in the United Kingdom for longer periods. The government has also clarified its policy guidance in relation to some of the Tier 4 rules. From November 2015:

  • college students cannot extend their Tier 4 visas in the United Kingdom unless they are studying at an "embedded college", one which has a formal direct link to a university that is recognised by the Home Office. Students of other institutions must leave and apply from outside the United Kingdom;
  • college students cannot switch to Tiers 2 or 5 in the United Kingdom and must apply from outside the United Kingdom. These provisions do not apply to those studying at higher education institutions (HEIs), as defined in government policy guidance;
  • non-EU migrants can study at further education levels for only two years instead of three years. This brings the maximum period into line with the length of time that British students generally spend in further education; and
  • the level of maintenance required each month has increased to £1,265 per month for Tier 4 students and £845 per month for Tier 4 dependants. The lower 'established presence' level of funding no longer exists and Tier 4 applicants must show £1,265 a month for up to a maximum of nine months. Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme applicants are still required to show only £1,265 for two months (£2,530).

As a reminder:

  • since August 2015, new students at publicly funded colleges are not permitted to work, bringing them in line with those at private colleges;
  • the method of calculating the five/eight-year cap has been amended and since August 2015, includes all time spent on a Tier 4 (Student) visa, including the extra time at the start and end of the visa;
  • since August 2015, if a student's new course of study is at the same level as his or her previous course, it may still be considered to be academic progress if the sponsor is an HEI with Tier 4 sponsor status and the sponsor confirms that the new course is related to the previous course for which the applicant was given Tier 4 leave (eg, part of the same specialisation), or the courses combined support the applicant's career aspirations; and
  • since June 2015, all family members of European Economic Area (EEA) students residing in the United Kingdom must hold comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI). When applying for immigration permission as a family member of an EEA student, applicants will need to show that they have held CSI from June 22 2015 or the date of entry to the United Kingdom, whichever is later.

For further information on this topic please contact Ben Sheldrick at Magrath LLP by telephone (+44 20 7495 3003) or email (ben.sheldrick@magrath.co.uk). The Magrath LLP website can be accessed at www.magrath.co.uk.

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