From 5 October 2009, all new Tier 4 students’ visas, or “permission to stay”, are ‘tied’ to the education provider that is sponsoring them. This brings Tier 4 in line with other tiers of the points-based system.
After 5 October, every new Tier 4 student will find their sponsor’s reference number on the vignette in their passport or on their identity card for foreign nationals.
In future, if a student wants to study with a new Tier 4 sponsor and they made their last application for a Tier 4 visa on or after 5 October 2009, they will need to apply for a new Tier 4 visa.
They will not be allowed to begin studying with the new education provider until they have received a decision on the outcome of their application. Should they do so, they will be committing a criminal offence for which they could be prosecuted or removed from the country.
The UK Border Agency issued the following statement:
“We have been asked whether students in this situation will be able to begin studying with the new education provider, at their own risk, before they have received a decision on their application. The UK Border Agency cannot condone a criminal offence, and therefore cannot advise students that this is an option for them. We will make every effort to ensure that applications from students wishing to change education provider are considered within the published service standard, so that they can move to the new education provider as quickly as possible.
Students looking to study with a new Tier 4 sponsor who made their last application for a Tier 4 visa before 5 October 2009, will continue to be allowed to change their without making a new Tier 4 application. They must, however, seek permission from us to change their sponsor.
There are now effectively three categories of student visa holders in the UK.
- Those with pre-Tier 4, old style, student visas applied for before 31 March 2009
- Tier 4 student visa holders who applied between 31 March and 5 October
- Post 5 October Tier 4 visa holders
The above changes are part of the phasing in of the full Tier 4 rules and guidance following the initial implementation on 31 March this year. However, eventually all students will be on the same visas and will be tied to their educational provider.
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: