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Clampdown on UK student visas announced by Home Office | Immigration Matters

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The number of visas granted to students from outside the EU is to be cut in a crackdown on “abuses of the system”, UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson told the BBC this morning.

Mr Johnson said tougher rules would require applicants to speak English to near-GCSE level and ban those on short UK courses from bringing dependants.

He said the revised rules were targeted at those who came to the UK “primarily for work”.

The Home Office would not confirm reports the changes may cut visas issued this year by tens of thousands. The exact details of rule changes have yet to be published on the Home Office website.

A spokesman said the review of student visas had been ordered in November. In 2008/9, about 240,000 student visas were issued by the UK.

News of the measures, which will not require legislation and will be introduced within weeks, comes a week after student visa applications from Nepal, northern India and Bangladesh were suspended amid a big rise in cases.

Last year the UK introduced a system requiring students wishing to enter the country to secure 40 points under its points-based Tier 4 criteria.

However, the government has faced criticism that this has allowed suspected terrorists and other would-be immigrants into the UK, only for them to stay on despite their visas being temporary.

In a statement, Mr Johnson said he made “no apologies for strengthening an already robust system”.

He added: “We created our points-based system so that we could respond quickly to changing circumstances, when necessary, to raise the bar students have to meet to come to the UK.

“We remain open to those foreign students who want to come to the UK for legitimate study – they remain welcome.

“But those who are not seriously interested in coming here to study but come primarily to work – they should be in no doubt that we will come down hard on those that flout the rules.”

Under the measures:

• Successful applicants from outside the EU will have to speak English to a level only just below GCSE standard, rather than beginner level as at present.

• 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.

• Additionally, visas for courses below degree level will also be granted only if the institutions they attend are on a new register, the Highly Trusted Sponsors List.

Last weekend it emerged the UK Border Agency had temporarily suspended student visa applications from northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Officials said they were acting after the system had been overwhelmed and concerns had been raised that many cases were not genuine.

Immigration Matters Comment

Little detail has been revealed in this latest clampdown on immigration.

For instance, whether or not the new rules will apply to existing student visa holders or just new entrants.

Mr Johnson has also not explained how these new restrictions will reduce the threat of terrorism. Most students turned terrorist were studying at Uniersities, which will be largely unaffected by the changes.

International student are worth £8 billion to the UK economy and the private educational sector employs many thousands of British workers.

See also: 

UK suspends Tier 4 student visa applications from northern India

Can students who break visa rules stay in UK?

Indian students shun Australia

Foreign students abused in Australia

Tuition fees for international students increase by 5% last year

Important news for education providers sponsoring migrant students

Changes to Tier 4 student visa applications next month

Tier 4 Visa Letters become obsolete next month

Tough changes could hit overseas students

Tories will tighten UK student visas

Border and Immigration Minister says new student visa system is an improvement

If you need any immigration advice or help with Studying in the UK, Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

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22 Responses to “Clampdown on UK student visas announced by Home Office”
Read them below or add one

  1. […] contribute £8 billion to the economy, the previous Labour government introduced a number of clampdowns on non-EU students and licensed private […]

  2. […] Clampdown on UK student visas announced by Home Office […]

  3. Dear Mr Kelly
    If students doing nvq under the sandwich scheme course will only be allowed 10working hours do you think it is enough for them to learn and be assessed to pass the nvq course.they are here to learn more while they work and at the same time better themselves.please give as some light as to what foreign students do .many thanks

  4. […] Clampdown on UK student visas announced by Home Office […]

  5. wakeke says :

    please reply…

  6. kashif says :

    hi charles i have email u my problem beofre but i didnt get my answer i want to know charles i was refused in march so i go on apeal and ive won my apeal on december 2009 after that i come to know that my college was no more on the list due to tier 4 policy so i took admission in another college , and in jan 10 embassy ask me to submit my passport, intended date of travel , uptodate acceptance letter so i have submitted that i just want to know would i get my visa on new admission of college which is on the list of registered sponsors they gave me 6 weeks time. please please i need urgent advise hope u would give me this information

  7. […] will naturally be relieved when they have been left unscathed by the clampdown on foreign students, especially when their competitors in the private sector are been hammered and driven into […]

  8. if college got no license, do i still have to pay for the fees? wer just afraid to settle our account in college because we knew that if the immigration will close it we will not have a refund for it…and one thing more, we are also worried coz the school would always tell us that if we dont pay though they hav no licensed our names will be submitted to the home office.. is it possible for them to do that?

  9. what will happen to existing students who are working in care homes because they work more than 20hrs?

  10. wakeke says :

    what do you mean by fee scale?? ive read the article about students coming to uk for work… but what i am saying is that if students who are studying nvq in health and social care are only allowed to work for 10 hrs are there any care homes that would accept students?? 10hrs is only 1 day a week.. in my opinion 20 hrs per week for money is not enough.. LOL.. sorry i didnt understand college has own fee scale.. fee meaning tuition fee?? LOL

  11. Hi Sir Kelly…
    I got a visa and my colegge is now suspended….Am i able to fly from India for Uk in this condition???????????
    pls reply…

  12. Brenda says :

    I have recently appealed for my student extention visa. A few days ago, I was informed from the college I had enrolled even though it was licenced,that it is one of the colleges that have been suspended for a review of their lisence.Should I withdraw and apply to a new college to make a fresh application?

  13. […] Clampdown on UK student visas announced by Home Office […]

  14. wakeke says :

    lets say it will be 10 hrs per week.. are there any employers that will still accept students to work in a care home?? 10 hrs per week is only 1 day per week.. if theres no work in a care home, how will we be able to finish the course of nvq in health and social care since we need to have a assessment in a workplace?? hope someone will reply…

  15. arianne says :

    are the fees of nvq courses same with other schools which also offers these nvq courses?


  16. […] Clampdown on UK student visas announced by Home Office […]

  17. My College have been suspended since 2-3 months now and they are continuously telling that it should be back in the list soon. I am half way done with my course and don’t know if at this stage I should go for a different college or university. Could you please suggest me my next plan of action.???? Is there any way we can know their status of licence?

  18. hi!
    where can i find the highly trusted sponsor list pls.tnx

  19. You can change college if you think your current college will not get the licence back.
    You will have to pursue your college for fees as this is not an immigration issue. However, based on past experience you are unlikely to get any refund once you have signed up for the course.

  20. I really hope this is only for new applicants!

  21. i m student of tier 4 college and my college has been suspended can i take addmission in other college and can i change my course and the fees we have submitted to college they will refund our fees to us or not plz inform

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