6 April changes to the Immigration Rules

16 March 2016

On 11 March 2016 the Home Office published a Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 877), which contains a number of changes that will affect Tier 4 applications made on or after 6 April 2016.   We will update our web information in due course; in the meantime the main changes that will affect students are listed below.

From 6 April 2016:

  • Tier 4 (General) students who are currently being sponsored by an independent school are allowed to apply for a new Tier 4 (General) visa from within the UK, rather than having to go home to apply.
  • Tier 4 (General) students applying in the UK in order to be a postgraduate doctor or dentist, or a student union sabbatical officer, only have to show a maximum of two months’ worth of funds for their living costs.
  • the Immigration Rules will clarify that when calculating the time limits (or ‘caps’) on study, it is the period of leave that you have previously been granted that will count towards the time limits, even if you did not spend all of this time studying and/or you used this time to study a different level of course.  We have asked the Home Office if they will include periods of leave when leave has been cancelled or curtailed in their calculations.  We will update our information about the caps when we receive an answer.
  • students who are studying a degree level course at an overseas higher education institution in the USA, and who, as part of their course in the USA, apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa for a study abroad programme in the UK for up to six months, will be exempt from the English language requirements. 
  • Tier 4 (General) students and Tier 4 (Child) students will be prohibited from engaging in ‘business activity’. The Home Office has explained that this is to stop Tier 4 students from setting up businesses in the UK.  This additional work restriction will affect you if you apply for your Tier 4 visa on or after 6 April 2016.
  • the study condition for Tier 4 (General) students is being tightened so that if you apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa on or after 6 April 2016 you can only change course at the same institution if:
    • you haven’t completed the course for which your CAS was assigned
    • the course is taught by a UK recognised body or HEI that has Tier 4 sponsor status
    • the course is at degree level or above
    • the new course isn’t at a lower level than the previous course for which you were granted leave
    • you will be able to complete the new course within your current period of leave
    • if you have previously been granted Tier 4 (General) or Student leave your sponsor must confirm that:
      • the course is related to the previous course for which you were granted leave (that is, it is connected to your previous course, part of the same subject group or involves deeper specialisation) or
      • your previous course and the new course in combination support the your genuine career aspirations
  • the study condition for Tier 4 (Child) students is amended so that if you apply for a Tier 4 (Child) visa on or after 6 April 2016 you cannot change course at the same institution in order to do a foundation course that is intended to prepare you for entry to a higher education institution.
  • your visa application could be refused if you have an outstanding debt for NHS treatment of £500 or more; or if you have been been involved in a legal case with the Home Office and as a result you have been instructed to pay the Home Office's legal costs, but you have failed to do so.

If you would like to see what the Tier 4 Rules will look like from 6 April 2016 then have a look at our archive of Tier 4 Rules.  We have also updated our summary of the Tier 4 changes in 2016 to include these new Rules.

If you have any questions or concerns about these changes you should contact a student adviser at your institution.  If you are not able to do this then you can call our advice line.


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