The UK Border Agency has recently implemented a number of important changes to the Tier 4 Student Visa system, which have caused much confusion since they took effect earlier this year. Before you apply for a visa or extension of leave to remain, read this article.
In March 2009 the government introduced the points based Tier 4 Student Visa system for applicants in order to ensure that only students who genuinely intend to study in the United Kingdom are granted authority to do so.
The simplified rules require prospective applicants to score at least 40 points in order to qualify for a Tier 4 Student Visa.
Out of the required 40 points a Tier 4 Student Visa applicant must meet to be able to apply for a entry clearance, 30 points should be from sponsorship to a course at an acceptable level with an approved government-accredited educational institution.
The UK government has limited the educational institutions that are allowed to sponsor an applicant to those on the Tier 4 register of sponsors. To claim the 30 points, an applicant needs to present the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number, which is issued by the sponsoring educational institution, as documentary proof.
The other 10 points would be based on your capacity to provide financial maintenance for yourself while pursing your education in the UK under the Tier 4 Visa. Financial maintenance would include the course fees for the first year and monthly living costs. Documentary proof of this would be a bank statement or a certification that you have funds to support yourself.
The cost of living in the UK depends on the area where you will be studying. In Inner London, you would need at least £800 monthly for the duration of the course. Cost of living outside inner London is slightly lower, and you would need about £600 a month.
Acceptable courses under the Tier 4 Student Visa are those at level 3 or above (level 4 or above if the sponsor is Rated A or B) in the UK National Qualifications Framework (NQF) or Qualifications and Credits Framework (QCF) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland or at level 6 or above (level 7 or above if Rated A or B) in the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF) by the Scottish Qualifications Authority. It may also be for a short-term study abroad program in the UK, as long as this forms part of your qualification at a higher educational institution overseas. UK NARIC, however, needs to confirm that the qualification is at degree level. Another acceptable course is an English language course at level B2 or above the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
Important changes in 2010
Earlier this year new immigration rules were introduced which now require prospective Tier 4 Student Visa applicants to present proof of English ability if they are enrolling on courses below NQF level 6 and its equivalents, but excluding those students who are enrolling on Foundation degrees and HND’s in Scotland. Proof of English should be at a minimum of CEFR level B1.
Short term course students will not also be allowed to bring dependents if you will be studying for 6 months or less. Likewise, your dependants will not be allowed to work in the United Kingdom if your course is below degree level or is not a foundation degree.
You will be allowed to work no more than 20 hours a week during term time and full time during vacations if you are studying a degree course or above or a foundation degree course. However, if you are studying a course below degree level and it is not a foundation degree, you are only allowed to work 10 hours a week during term time and full time during vacations.
Students are allowed to do a work placement as long as it is part of your course. Note that only the newly introduced category of Tier 4 Highly Trusted Sponsors can offer courses which include work placements.
The UK is a hugely popular destination and an exciting place to study. UK schools, colleges and universities rank among the best in the world.
Your dependant spouse, civil partner and children will receive free elementary and high school education, as well as free medical care.
If you need any advice on student visas, courses or visa extension or an appeal against a refusal please email: