As many of you will be aware the immigration rules have seen many important changes that came into force at the beginning of October this year. Some of these rules directly affect students wanting to study in the UK.


We know how stressful student life can be at the best of times, so we thought we’d lend a hand in keeping everyone up to date with the recent amendments made to the Tier 4 (Student) visa routes!


The changes:


  • Good news for students looking to pursue a doctorate!

Students with immigration permission in the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) category of Tier 4, will now be permitted to apply for immigration permission in the Start-up category despite having previously set up a business. Students’ last grant of immigration permission must have been in the DES category of Tier 4 for this concession to apply.



  • Get into work quicker through a sponsor!

Tier 4 (General) students granted their leave on or after 1 October 2019, who later submit an application for Tier 2 leave within 3 months of the expected completion of their course, will be able to start work with their Tier 2 sponsor as soon as they have made their Tier 2 application.



  • Self-employment restrictions.

The only self-employment permitted for Tier 4 students is for those who have made an application in the Start-up category. Students must have made an application prior to the expiry of their Tier 4 immigration permission.



  • Students and sports.

The Professional Sportsperson definition will be revised again to exclude Tier 4 students who are studying a course at degree level or above at a Higher Education Provider. If such students are playing or coaching sport as an amateur or as part of a work placement, such students will be excluded from the Professional Sportsperson definition.



  • Administrative reviews will now be done online!

Tier 4 students wishing to submit Administrative Review applications will have to do so online. This will continue to be a free service.



  • Sticking with your current sponsor is rewarded.

PhD students will only be exempt from the academic progression requirements if they wish to extend their immigration permission to study at their current Tier 4 sponsor. This narrows the exemption which previously meant PhD students could extend their stay in the UK by applying for further immigration permission at their current Tier 4 sponsor or at a new Tier 4 sponsor.



  • Switching from a Tier 4 visa to a Tier 2 visa has some benefits:

There are a few helpful perks that come with switching this way, rather than switching from another type of visa or applying for Tier 2 from outside the UK:

  • The minimum salary is £20,800 for those switching from Tier 4, £30,000 for everyone else. This means more positions are available!
  • The employer does not need to run the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) before issuing the student a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). RLMT is the test of whether there is a local worker who can do the job.
  • The employer does not pay the £1,000/year Immigration Skills Charge which is needed when someone applies outside the UK.

Public petition for the post study work visa:


There is currently a petition to move the launch date of the Post Study Work Visa (PSW) in order for current students to benefit from the scheme as well. You can sign it here if you like: 


It is worth noting that most of the available information about PSW is taken from the Home Office’s response to this petition, which now has nearly 30,000 signatures out of the required 100,000.


What is PSW?


Currently, the new route is set to launch in the summer of 2021. Any student who successfully completes their degree-level course at a qualifying institution in the summer of 2021 or thereafter will be eligible to apply. This includes students who are already studying.


All students accepted for the Graduate route will receive two years non-extendable leave. During that time, they will be able to work, or look for work, at any skill level. Graduates will also be able to switch into skilled work once they have found a suitable job.


This reverses a decision made by Theresa May back in 2012, which she forced international students to leave the UK only 4 months after completing their studies. So for many people, bringing PSW back will be seen as a step forward and a more welcoming environment for overseas students.


A few grey areas…


At the moment, the Home Office’s line is that “any student who is set to graduate from summer 2021 onward should be eligible for post-study work”.


However, it is unclear whether the masters’ students graduating from a January 2020 start will be eligible. We will have to wait for the official legislation to come out, then we will know exactly where everyone stands with this new visa route.


Contact us!


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