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China – submitting application at Visa Application Centres

From 3 June 2013, applicants must book an appointment to attend a visa application centre in China. It is no longer possible to attend a visa application centre without an appointment.

The previously limited service for visa applications to be submitted without an appointment will no longer be available from 3 June 2013. Applicants must ensure that they have booked an appointment on the VFS China website after completing their online application form. The visa application centre may not be able to accept an application without an appointment.

Changes to the Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) application process

From 10 June 2013 the Home Office will no longer accept paper applications or cheque payments for highly trusted sponsor (HTS) status. This includes renewal applications from sponsors who already hold HTS status.Streaming Beauty and the Beast (2017)

From 1 July sponsors should apply online via the sponsorship management system (SMS).

Tier 4 sponsors were notified of this change on 31 May 2013, while sponsors affected by transitional arrangements have been contacted separately.

For more information about transitional arrangements or the new application process email Sponsorship PBS enquiries.

Changes to the Immigration Rules

A number of minor changes to the Immigration Rules have been published which will come into force on 1 July 2013.

They include:

  • changes to the documents required for approved English language tests;
  • clarification that ‘regulated financial institutions’ means those regulated to provide personal savings accounts or student loans;
  • more legal courses are now exempt from the time limit on study for Tier 4 student visas; and
  • a resident labour market test is not needed for applications for a religious worker (Tier 5) extension.

Other changes include:

  • some minor updates and clarifications to the family Immigration Rules;
  • changes to the list of financial institutions in Bangladesh and Ghana from which documents can be verified.
  • Tuberculosis screening is now required in more countries including:China;
    Hong Kong;
    Sierra Leone;
    Vietnam; and

In-country Tier 4 application

Since 6 April students applying for a Tier 4 visa within the UK have had to use the ‘Print and Send’ service as part of the planned transition to online visa application and submission. The benefits of the online application process are:

  • Questions tailored to the applicant (no irrelevant questions);
  • On screen help for each question;
  • Specific maintenance calculated for each applicant;
  • Secure online payment;
  • Online appointment booking for Premium Appointments;
  • Access the application from any location with an internet connection;

The Home Office is currently piloting the fully online applications with a small group of sponsors. Students whose sponsors are taking part in the pilot are able to complete as well as submit their application online, only sending the supporting documentation to the Home Office by post.

Students must use the paper form if using the Home Office’s Super Premium Service to apply but it is not possible to use the paper application form to apply at a Public Enquiry Office, unless they have an appointment which was booked before 6 April 2013 in which case they must use the paper application form.

Update from Penningtons Solicitors

Some members may be concerned about the guidance surrounding work placements/work experience and internships. For more information please read the guidance below from Penningtons Solicitors.

Work experience – volunteers or workers

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has recently published new guidance for businesses on the often confusing subject of whether the national minimum wage (NMW) is payable to those undertaking work experience.

The term ‘work experience’ can relate to a specified period of time which a person spends with an organisation, during which he or she has an opportunity to learn directly about working life and the working environment.  Work experience is synonymous with the terms ‘placement’ or ‘internship’; however, the term ‘intern’ has no legal status under NMW law.

Entitlement to the NMW is not based on what the work is called, eg placement or internship, the description of the work, eg unpaid or expenses only, or the profession or sector.  It depends on whether the agreement or arrangement that a person has with an organisation makes him or her a ‘worker’, which has a legal definition under the NMW law (see the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills’ national minimum wage checklist).  From an immigration law perspective, if the person is deemed to be a worker, then this will trigger the obligation on employers to carry out a right to work check under the Prevention of Illegal Working legislation prior to allowing the person to commence his or her work experience.  Employers can be liable for payment of a civil penalty if they are found to be providing work to someone without the right to work in the UK.

Organisations offering work experience opportunities should also check whether or not the person is a genuine volunteer or a ‘worker’ for NMW purposes.  Note, however, that students undertaking work experience for no more than one year as a required part of a UK higher or further education course do not qualify for the NMW even if they are ‘workers’.

This new NMW guidance by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills also provides further detail on:

  • exemptions in NMW legislation relevant to work experience;
  • arrangements which do not qualify for the NMW;
  • volunteers;
  • what to consider when designing work experience placements; and
  • work experience – examples.

For further information, please contact Hazar El-Chamaa or Julian Yew

To access the Department for Business Innovation & Skills FAQ on work placements, click here.


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Anthony is an Immigration Law Adviser registered with the OISC, an Accountant, Microsoft Certified and Training Provider. Anthony is the Principal Consultant and CEO at Bison Management - an Immigration Law firm registered by the OISC no F201400920. Anthony is the publisher of the free online resource: and you can view his profile here:

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