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Tier 4 Student visa: important changes

09 February 2010

In the recent months, UK immigration has become one of the most discussed topics. With new changes to the UK immigration laws being introduced on almost monthly basis the  category of the points-based system came again under the scrutiny of the UK Border Agency.

According to Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, 30% of migrants who came into the UK entered on student visas. Vast majority of them enrolled on a short course rather than a degree level qualification.

The UK immigration authorities are reviewing the current immigration laws pertaining to the  category in order to stop any alleged abuse of the visa system.

The following changes are likely to be implemented:

· Successful applicants from outside the EU will have to speak English to a level only just below GCSE standard, rather than the current beginner level;

· Students taking courses below degree level will be allowed to work for only 10 hours a week, instead of 20 as at present;

· Those on courses which last under six months will not be allowed to bring dependants into the country, while the dependants of students on courses below degree level will not be allowed to work;

· Visas for courses below degree level with a work placement will only be approved if the institutions they attend are on a new register.

As part of the new measures by 2011 the UK Border Agency wants to have in place a more sophisticated system to allow close monitoring of migrants to ensure they leave the UK after the expiry of their visa.

In the last 12 months there were number of significant changes implemented into the Tier 4 Student category including introduction of a certificate of acceptance for studies (CAS), biometric enrolment and foreign national identity cards (ICFN).

Furthermore, following concerns regarding unusually high volume of student visa applications from Nepal, northern India and Bangladesh, earlier this month, the processing of those cases was suspended until further notice.

Mr Johnson, however, stated that UK colleges and academic institutions should continue to attract those foreign students who want to come to the UK for legitimate study. He recognised that the UK is the second most popular destination for people going into higher education and brings £5 -£8 billion in to the British economy and therefore the UK immigration authorities should be acting in the country’s best interest.


Migra & Co is a private immigration company, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), reference number F200900038. This website is not a government website and as such, we are not linked or affiliated with the UK Visas and Immigration. We offer expert legal advice and flexible tailored solutions to both private and corporate clients to ensure that their immigration needs are met. If you wish to download or prepare a UK visa application form, you can do so free of charge by visiting the Official UKVI website.