The UK Border Agency has published its ‘Statement of Intent and Transitional Measures’ for the student visa changes announced by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, on 22 March.
The document outlines details of the new guidance, effective 21 April 2011, and dates of implementation of other measures, including the new rules on student working hours.
The UK Government hopes to ‘ensure a smooth transition with minimal disruption to sponsors’ recruitment plans and student decision making’.
The first round of implementation, including interim measures, was started by laying changes to the Immigration Rules before Parliament on 31 March, which will come into effect on 21 April 2011.
There will be further changes to the Immigration Rules taking effect in summer 2011, in April 2012 and by the end of 2012.
The agency point out that ‘measures outlined in this Statement should not be seen as a definitive account of the requirements that will apply in future. The definitive version will be set out in the Immigration Rules and published formal Guidance for Tier 4 sponsors and applicants. The Statement does, however, represent the Government’s current intentions’.
OVERVIEW OF THE CHANGES
The Government will ‘phase in changes to the rules in order to give providers and students time to plan accordingly’.
Changes include a ban on all work for students applying for visas to study at private colleges from this ‘summer 2011’, a shake up of accreditation bodies and the right to refuse entry to students who fail to demonstrate a competent level of English upon arrival at UK ports.
During a ‘transitional period’ beginning 21 April 2011, those sponsors who do not meet the new requirements as regards educational accreditation and Highly Trusted Sponsor status will be subject to a limit on their allocation of Confirmations of Acceptance for Studies until such time as they meet those new requirements.
In summary the measures and timetable are as follows:
Changes from 21 April 2011
New sponsors not already on the Tier 4 register will have to meet the new educational accreditation criteria in order to be issued a Tier 4 licence.
Existing sponsors will be subject to an interim limit on the number of students they can sponsor unless they:
- hold Highly Trusted Sponsor status; and
- meet the new accreditation criteria.
Existing sponsors that do not already meet the new accreditation criteria will be required to apply to the relevant inspection body by a date to be announced, in order to be able to continue to sponsor new students, subject to the interim limit, during the transitional period.
B rated sponsors will not be able to assign CAS to new students (only to those seeking to complete a course).
A sponsor who is not subject to the interim limit may sponsor, using his own CAS allocation, students studying at a sponsor who is subject to the interim limit, but must take full responsibility for them (e.g. higher education institutions1 could sponsor students at Pathway providers).
The English language requirements for Tier 4 (General) students will be tightened as follows:
A B1 Secure English Language Test (SELT) requirement for all courses at NQF 3-5 /QCF 3-5 / SCQF 6-8 (ending the current SELT exemptions on pre-sessionals /pathway /foundation degree courses).
A B2 SELT requirement for courses at NQF 6 /QCF 6 / SQCF 9 and above, with an exception for higher education institutions who can make their own assessment.
A student may be refused a visa or entry to the UK if he cannot speak English without assistance.
The Government will clarify that a CAS may only be issued in respect of a single course, except where the student is attending a pre-sessional course of not more than three months’ duration and has an unconditional offer of a place at a higher education institution or at an independent school starting not more than one month after the end of the pre-sessional course.
The full document is available on the UKBA website, however, as we have received a number of questions related to working hours allowed for students, we are outlining the Government’s intention below.
STUDENT PERMISSION TO WORK
For students sponsored by and studying directly with higher education institutions, we will retain the current level of permission to work at 20 hours per week part-time during term-time for students undertaking courses at degree level or above and 10 hours per week part-time during term time for students undertaking courses below degree level.
All students studying directly with higher education institutions will be able to work full-time during vacations.
For students sponsored by publicly-funded colleges of further education the Government will also retain the current level of permission to work at 10 hours per week part-time during term-time and full-time during vacations.
From summer 2011 students who are applying for entry clearance or leave to remain and who are not sponsored by a higher education institutions or publicly-funded further education college will not be granted permission to work at any time during their studies.
If you would like more information on the University of Bedfordshire email joanna or call 0208 905 1822.
If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email:
Bison UK are running special free student visa seminars to advise students on the new Tier 4 changes and their renewal options.