Changes to the Immigration Rules affecting students

15 July 2015

Below is a summary of the changes to the Immigration Rules, made by the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC297. The changes mainly affect students at (or who will be applying to) further education colleges.

Start date of entry clearance to be granted

For Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) entry clearance applications decided on or after 14 July 2015, where studying on a pre-sessional course, or a course of longer than six months, the start of the permission will be the later of:

  • one month before the course start date on your CAS; or
  • 7 days before the date you indicated on your entry clearance application as your intended date of travel.
Applying to stay in the UK in a Points Based System category

From 12 November 2015, only Tier 4 (General) students who are, or who have last been, sponsored by one of the following institutions can apply from within the UK to stay as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) or Tier 1 (Investor):

  • a UK recognised body or body in receipt of public funding as a HEI; or
  • overseas HEI if you are undertaking a short-term study-abroad programme in the UK; or
  • an embedded college.

The list above includes most UK universities.

Additionally, only Tier 4 (General) students who are, or who have last been, sponsored by one of the following institutions can apply from within the UK to stay as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), or under Tier 2 or Tier 5 (Temporary Worker):

  • a UK recognised body or body in receipt of public funding as a HEI; or
  • overseas HEI if undertaking a short-term study-abroad programme in the UK.

The list above includes most UK universities.

All other criteria for these categories will still need to be met.

Tier 4 (Child) students are unaffected by these changes.

All other students who wish to apply under one of these categories, and who meet the criteria, will have to leave the UK and apply for entry clearance.

Work permission for those with Tier 4 (General) permission

Those who make new applications under Tier 4 (General) on or after 3 August 2015 to study at a publicly-funded further education college will no longer be allowed to work, except where undertaking a work placement as part of the course. This does not affect those with existing permission under Tier 4 (General).

Students studying at all other institutions and Tier 4 dependants are unaffected by these changes.

Applying to extend permission in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) student

From 12 November 2015, only Tier 4 (General) students who have, or who have last, been sponsored by one of the following can apply to remain in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) student:

  • a UK recognised body or body in receipt of public funding as a HEI; or
  • an overseas HEI if you are undertaking a short-term study-abroad programme in the UK; or
  • an embedded college.

The list above includes most UK universities. All other students who wish to continue studying in the UK with permission under Tier 4 (General) will need to return to their country of residence to make a new entry clearance application.

Changes affecting only the Tier 4 (Child) category

From 3 August 2015 only Independent Schools can sponsor immigration applications under the Tier 4 (Child) category. We have asked the Home Office if this affects CASs issued, or applications made, from this date.

Students who make an immigration application from 3 August 2015 will have a new study condition imposed on any leave granted. This condition limits those who wish to change course at the same institution (before completing their original course) to studying at a higher academic level or at the same level as the original course.

From 3 August 2015, sponsors cannot offer their Tier 4 (Child) students places on foundation courses which are intended to prepare students for entry to Higher Education institutions.

Time limits on study ('caps')

The cap on studying below degree level, when applying for Tier 4 leave, will be reduced from three years to two years from 12 November 2015.

For Tier 4 (General) applications made on or after 3 August 2015, periods of additional leave granted before or after a course will now be included in the caps.

We have asked the Home Office whether the above changes will affect a CAS issued before this date or an immigration application made on or after this date.

Academic progress

In order to demonstrate academic progress in a Tier 4 (General) application from 3 August 2015, students must be doing a course which is a higher level than the previous course studied under Tier 4 (General) or ‘Student’ leave. There is an exception for students studying at a UK recognised body or body in receipt of public funding as a HEI, if the sponsor is able to confirm that the:

  • new course is connected to, part of the same subject group as, or involves deeper specialization of the previous course for which Tier 4 leave was granted; or
  • previous course and the new course together support a students genuine career aspirations. 

Those in the following situations will not have to demonstrate academic progress:

  • re-sitting an exam or repeating modules; or
  • applying for leave to remain to complete a PhD or other doctoral qualification where this course was studied under Tier 4 (General) or ‘Student’ leave; or
  • making a first immigration application to complete a course started at an institution which had its Tier 4 licence revoked.

We have asked the Home Office whether a CAS issued before this date will be affected by the change, or whether the change affects applications made after this date.

Doctorate Extension Scheme

From 3 August 2015, students who wish to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme from inside the UK, must have permission under Tier 4 (General). We have asked the Home Office why the Rules are drafted to limit this to ‘leave to remain’, and not ‘entry clearance’.

Maintenance funds

Tier 4 (General) and Tier (Child) applicants will no longer benefit from the provision to show only two months’ maintenance funds, known as having an ‘established presence’. This affects applications made on or after 12 November 2015. However, those applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme will still be able to show only two months’ maintenance funds.

From 12 November 2015, there will be new distinctions between ‘inside’ London and ‘outside’ London. We are still clarifying the new definition of ‘London’ and have asked the Home Office about this.

There will also be new maintenance amounts from 12 November 2015. We will update our web information to reflect these new amounts shortly.


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