There have been some major changes to the UK’s immigration rules today, including an introduction of the Student and Child Student rules for the Points Based Immigration System which will replace the Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes. There is also altered rules for English Language provision and some new guidance on the financial options available to students and the Academic Technology Approval Scheme.
Student and Child Student Routes
In a statement related to these new routes the Home Office have said:
“International students play a key part in the government’s agenda to unleash the UK’s potential now that we have left the EU. They make important contributions economically, academically, and financially.”
In keeping with the statement, some big changes are being brought in which we hope will make it easier for more international students to come to the UK and flourish.
The Student and Child Student routes will replace the Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes in the Immigration Rules and there are some key differences to take note of. It is also important to remember that all references to Students or Child Students in the new rules must be read as including people who currently hold leave as Tier 4 Migrants.
- Same treatment for all:
EEA nationals will be required to meet the same requirements to study within the UK as non-EEA nationals and will need to apply under the Student rules.
- More chance to switch permission/extend leave to remain:
There will be more leeway when it comes to switching permissions and switching between routes within the Points Based Immigration System. Under the old Tier 4 routes, students and children had to meet specific sponsorship requirements to apply for further leave in country. Under the Student and Child Student routes, applicants will be able to apply for further permission to stay in the UK to study under Student Routes, unless they last held leave as a visitor; a short-term student; or were granted outside the immigration rules. It is also worth to note that if the applicant has last held leave as a Parent of a Child Student, a Seasonal Worker, or a Domestic Worker in a Private Household, will not be allowed to submit an in-country application.
- No time limit on studying
The eight-year time limit on studying courses at postgraduate level has been removed. There is no longer a limit on the time that an individual can spend studying postgraduate courses.
- Privileges after one year
Applicants who apply for permission to stay in the UK will not be required to provide evidence of maintenance funds when they have spent longer than one year in the UK on their current visa.
Dealing with language in a simplified way
New simplified rules are introduced surrounding English language proficiency, but currently these new rules only apply to the Student and Child Student routes. It is likely that the changes will apply to several routes in the coming months.
- Once is enough
Applicants only need to prove the required level of English language to the Home Office once. This is a positive and logical step and will save a lot of time, both for the student and the Home Office workers.
- Qualifications = evidence
Applicants who have gained GCSE/A Level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK can rely on this to prove their English language ability.
Maintenance and finance updates
- More trust where it is due
There will no longer be a requirement that applicants who have met the maintenance requirement on their current route have to meet it again if they have been supporting themselves in the UK for more than a year.
- More options
Applicants will be able to rely on electronic bank statements as part of their evidence, and applicants will be permitted to show they meet maintenance requirements by relying on a wider range of accounts. Funds may be held in any form of personal bank or building society account (including current, deposit, savings, pension from which the funds can be withdrawn or investment account) provided the account allows the funds to be accessed immediately.
Exemption from the Academic Technology Approval Scheme
The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) requires certain international students who are subject to UK immigration control, who are intending to study at postgraduate level in certain academic subjects, usually of the scientific variety. The complete list can be found from page 21 of this document.
As part of the changes to the immigration rules, the list of countries students can come from who are exempt from having to complete the ATAS has been extended. The current list is as followed:
- Republic of Cyprus
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United States of America
What do we think about these changes?
As we said at the start of this article, we enjoy seeing global talent come to the UK to study and eventually work and settle here. It is great for the country in many ways, culturally and financially. These changes do seem mainly positive, and should have little or no effect on students currently in the UK or who were planning to apply under the routes.
However for EEA students, this means that they will no longer be able to enter the UK on the basis of Free Movement and will have to apply for a visa prior to entering the UK. For sponsoring institutions, for example UK universities, their recruitment practices will also need to be amended to incorporate EEA students into their processes.
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