Tier 4, for students, will be launched on 31 March 2009, despite the huge backlog of student visa (VAF) applications at many major Embassy posts.
Large visa sections, such as Manila, are inundated with student visa applications and processing is taking up to four months.
There is also the question of exactly how the visa section will treat applicants who have submitted their VAF visa applications online, but have failed to get an appointment to submit payment and biometrics.
We have received a large number of complaints from students unable to get an appointment inorder to submit documents to the British Embassy’s visa handling partner, VFS Global.
Tier 4 is the final stage of the five-tier points-based system, which has been phased in over the last 18 months by the UK Border Agency.
Students will need to gain at least 40 points to qualify for a visa under the new scheme:
- 30 points are gained form a visa letter or Letter of Acceptance from an approved educational provider
- 10 points are gained by proving you have enough money to cover the course and living expenses
The full Sponsorship Management System and electronic confirmation of acceptance (CAS) for studies will not be rolled out until September 2009.
According to the UKBA document, ‘Tier 4 of the Points Based System Policy Guidance‘, if you are studying inside London you will need to show, in your account, at least £800 per month for 9 months plus the course fee. If you are studying outside London, you will need to show £600 per month for 9 months plus the course fee.
For in-country students renewing their visas for courses of longer than 9 months, you will need to show the first year’s course fees plus £1600 for courses inside London and £1200 outside London.
Applying for a visa under Tier 4 should be more straightforward than the current student visa scheme, but there are some drawbacks.
The maintenance requirement is more clearly defined, however, funds will have to be shown in the applicant’s account for at least a month before applying.
Entry Clearance Officers (ECO) will not be able to refuse a visa based on subjective reasons such as “intention to return home” or because the ECO believes “on the balance of probabilities” that the student will not follow the course.
Decisions under Tier 4 will be more objective and based on factual information. For this reason students will no longer have the right to appeal against a refusal. Instead, refusals will be dealt with internally by an Entry Clearance Manager under a new “Administrative Review” system.
Applications refused under the current rules will still qualify for a full appeal to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT), where cases will be decided by an Immigration Judge.
Tier 4 students will still be able to work 20 hours per week, plus additional hours of ‘work-based study’ for those on vocational or NVQ courses, but this will be more strictly monitored by the college.
Some employers in the care sector have come to rely on ‘NVQ Health and Social Care’ students to fill the gap left by Work Permit restrictions on Senior Carers. Despite the recession there seems to be plenty of jobs available for the student’s paid work placements.
For full details see the ‘Studying in the UK’ section of the UK Border Agency website: http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: