The following changes came into effect on 4 July:
- restrictions on work rights – some students who submit an application under tier 4 for leave to enter/remain will no longer be able to work during the duration of their leave under tier 4. Students studying at higher educational institutions (HEIs) and publicly funded further education colleges will retain work rights. Specifically all students, regardless of where they are studying, who submitted their leave to remain/entry clearance application before 4 July 2011, will be able to work ten hours (below NQF 6) or 20 hours (NQF 6 or above) per week during term time and full time during semester break for the length of their current visa only. For all subsequent applications the new work restrictions will apply. For further information on student work rights please refer back to the July immigration update.
- academic progression - sponsors will now have to vouch for academic progression for students changing courses where the new course is not a ‘step up’. We understand that in the future sponsors will be asked to tick a box to confirm academic progression on the CAS.
- financial institutions - UKBA intends to create a list naming financial institutions in other countries that have issued financial statements which UKBA alleges it has been unable to verify to its satisfaction. The list was due to be published by 4 July 2011 but is not yet available. We understand that there will be a transitional period for students who hold their money in these institutions but details of this are not yet available.
- low risk countries - UKBA has relaxed the rules for students from countries it designates as low-risk and who will be attending an HTS establishment. Such students will not routinely be required to present to immigration officials documents in relation to maintenance and educational qualifications but may be asked to. To avoid delays we recommend that students submit all documents even if they are from countries designated as low risk. For a list of low risk countries please refer to paragraph 12 of the tier 4 policy guidance (version 7/11). Click here for the guidance. The list is due to be reviewed annually.
- dependants - UKBA has restricted the sponsorship of dependants under tier 4 to those studying at postgraduate level at HEIs on courses lasting at least 12 months. In relation to Government-sponsored students, the student must be on a course lasting at least six months in order for their dependants to join them on a tier 4 dependant visa.