As if international students have not got enough to worry about, many are now being hit by the new hurdle: the ‘3 year rule’. The UK Border Agency’s Guideline Points-based system (Part 6A) dated July 2011 reads:
85. A Tier 4 (General) student who is 18 years old and or over is allowed to spend no more than three years in the UK studying below UK Bachelors degree level in his/her lifetime. We cannot approve new leave for a Tier 4 (General) student to study below UK Bachelors degree level, if he/she has already been studying below UK Bachelors degree level for three years.
How will the 3 year rule affect students?
The 3 year rule will block students who take too long to complete lower level courses.
A number of new rule changes will make it difficult for students to renew visas, especially those at private colleges. In addition, students renewing visas at private colleges will no longer be allowed to work or sponsor their dependants.
The government’s aim is to ‘encourage’ international students to study at government colleges and universities.
The government has implemented a number of important changes to the points based system this year which are adversely affecting international student’s working hours and their dependants when changing academic institution or renewing visas.
My advice remains the same: consult a qualified immigration adviser before submitting your application to ensure that it is valid and meets the current rules.
Can my dependant family member work?
I receive a lot of enquiries about dependants and whether they are allowed to work (see June/July article in Planet Philippines).
According to UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs), 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.
If your family members make their immigration application on or after 4 July 2011 rule changes, 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
Looking for a Tier 4 college or University or need advice?