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UKBA: Next set of changes to student visa rules is announced

Organization: 
Home Office UK Border Agency
Date of Publication: 
13 June 2011
Summary: 

The next set of changes to the Immigration Rules affecting Tier 4 - the student tier - of the points-based system has been laid in Parliament today and will come into effect on 4 July 2011

Note: the following is a press release issued by the Home Office UK Border Agency. See also the Tier 4 policy guidance - for applications made on or after 4 July 2011

Next set of changes to student visa rules is announced

13 June 2011

The next set of changes to the Immigration Rules affecting Tier 4 - the student tier - of the points-based system has been laid in Parliament today. The changes will come into effect on 4 July 2011.

The Home Secretary announced changes to the Immigration Rules in a statement to Parliament on 22 March, following a major public consultation on reforming Tier 4. The first set of changes came into effect on 21 April.

The aim of the revised Immigration Rules is to deliver a strong migration system which tackles immigration abuse, while allowing genuine students to study at genuine colleges.

From 4 July we will:

  • restrict work entitlements to migrants studying at higher educational institutions (HEIs) and publicly funded further education colleges only;
  • restrict the sponsorship of dependants to those studying at postgraduate level at HEIs on courses lasting at least 12 months, and government-sponsored students on courses lasting at least 6 months;
  • require education providers to vouch that a new course represents genuine academic progression;
  • ensure that maintenance funds are genuinely available to the applicant, by introducing a declaration on the visa application form;
  • commit to publish a list of financial institutions that we consider, on the basis of experience, do not verify financial statements to our satisfaction in more than 50 per cent of a sample of cases;
  • introduce a streamlined application process for low-risk nationals applying to attend courses with Highly Trusted Sponsors;
  • extend the list of courses for which students must receive ATAS clearance;
  • restrict the ability to deliver accountancy courses accredited by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) to those sponsors accorded platinum or gold status by ACCA; and
  • clarify the position of overseas universities with campuses in the UK.

These changes were announced by Immigration Minister Damian Green in a written ministerial statement this morning. You can download this statement, and the statement of changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 1148) from the right side of this page.

A revised version of our policy guidance document for Tier 4 migrants, and a statement of intent summarising the new student visa policy, can also be downloaded from the right side of this page. We will publish revised guidance for Tier 4 sponsors later today.

We have published an impact assessment for these changes in our Policy and law section.

We are also announcing today that the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) will extend their activities to cover privately funded providers, in line with our commitment that all privately funded sponsors would be inspected or reviewed by one of the publicly recognised bodies by the end of 2012.

There are also a small number of changes being made to bring into effect:

  • a new provision for other family members of refugees and beneficiaries of humanitarian protection;
  • a minor correction to the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) provisions and clarify a requirement of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) and Tier 1 (Investor) Rules; and
  • a small number of minor corrections and technical changes to the Rules relating to English language requirements for partners and spouses.

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Written ministerial statement: changes to the Immigration Rules

E.R Monday, 13th June 2011

HOME OFFICE

Changes to the Immigration Rules

The Minister of State for Immigration (Damian Green): My Rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules that will bring about the second of the changes to the Student visa system, which the Home Secretary announced on 22 March, and were set out in detail in the Statement of Intent published on 31 March.

The changes will take effect on 4 July and will tighten the Rules on the entitlements of students to work and bring dependents, and will tighten the requirements around maintenance funds and require students to show academic progression to get a further visa. The new Rules also introduce a streamlined application process for low risk students.

I can also confirm that we are publishing the impact assessment for the changes to Tier 4 on the UK Border Agency website, and I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the House Library.

The Home Secretary has previously announced that from the end of 2012 all Tier 4 sponsors will need to have had a satisfactory inspection or audit by one of a number of specified bodies who are involved in the regulatory framework for educational standards in the UK. I am pleased to be able to inform the House that the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) have agreed in principle to extend their remits to carry out additional inspections to cover privately funded providers. Further information is available on the UK Border Agency website.

This statement of changes also includes changes to the Tier 4 rules to extend the list of courses where an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate is required from the Counter-Proliferation Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

We are also making some minor amendments to rules laid on 16 March on intra company transfers and maintenance funds so they achieve the intended policy intention.

There are also minor changes to the immigration rules laid on 1 October 2010 in respect of the English language requirement for spouses and partners of British citizens and persons settled in the UK.

Lastly, the government also making new provisions in Part 8 of the Immigration Rules to allow other dependent family members of refugees with limited leave in the United Kingdom to join them from abroad. Currently, only those who have indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom are able to sponsor their other dependent relatives from abroad and those refugees with limited leave must make their applications outside of the rules and these are considered at the Secretary of State's discretion. We want to ensure that refugees with limited leave have the same opportunity to sponsor their other dependent family members as those coming through the normal route and this will also include a requirement that they be able to maintain and accommodate them.

(End)