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The answer might not be a straightforward as you think. 

The have been several changes to the points based system this year which affects international students changing or renewing their visas.

According to UKCISA, if your dependants made their immigration applications before 3 March 2010, they should be allowed to work if you had permission to be in the UK for 12 months or more. The sticker in their passport or their biometric residence permit (identity card) should say nothing about work or just “No employment as a doctor in training”.

If they make their immigration applications on or after 3 March 2010 and before 4 July 2011, your dependants will be given permission to work if:

  • you have permission to be in the UK for 12 months or more, and
  • your course is at degree level or meets the UK Border Agency’s definition of a foundation degree.

Some courses called foundation degrees will not meet this definition, but other courses which are not called foundation degrees, for example some HNDs, do meet this definition. All Scottish HNDs meet this definition. You will have to check with the college or university where you are studying whether your course meets this description and, if it does, ask that the words “foundation degree” appear on your confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) if you are applying at the same time as your family members, or any documents your family members submit with their applications if they are applying separately from you.

Tier 4 rules after 4 July

If your family members make their immigration application on or after 4 July 2011, they will be able to work if you are either:

  • a government-sponsored student taking a course that is over six months long, or
  • taking a postgraduate course (e.g. Masters/MBA) that is at least 12 months long and you are studying at an institution that meets the UK Border Agency’s definition of a higher education institution e.g. – a UK university

If your family members are able to join you or stay with in the UK under a different provision, they will be able to work only if you are applying for leave for 12 months or more and your course is at degree level.

Family members who are allowed to work can take any type of employment, except as a doctor or training if their passport or biometric residence permit states that they are subject to this prohibition, and they can be self-employed. Source: UKCISA.

A spokesman for UK University Services added that there are a number of rule changes which will make it difficult for students renewing visas, especially those at private colleges.

‘Students renewing visas at private colleges will no longer be allowed to work as well as sponsor dependants.

‘In addition the 3 year rule will block those who take too long to complete a lower level course such as an NVQ.

‘In short the government wants international students to study at government colleges and universities.’

Immigration Matters is receiving an alarming number of reports and comments of private colleges closing down. Be very careful who you send money to.

See also:

UK University places filling up faster than last year

Colleges and Universities discount fees to attract more Tier 4 students

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa open for applications

Malaysian student mugging victim vows to finish his studies in London

Pre Tier 4 students in the UK under the Immigration Rules that were in place before 31 March 2009

New Tier 4 student visa rules now in force

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UKUS is a free University and College Admissions and advice service based in London, UK. Students interested in studying abroad can complete the Online UKUS Registration Form for more details.

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