The decision to study abroad is a life-changing experience for most students. Given the recent changes to the Immigration Rules, the visa application represents a significant hurdle to traverse. However, prospective students are often confused when confronted with the complexity of their visa application and frequently have questions with regard to the type of visa for which they need to apply, the time restraints involved and any new requirements specified by the UK Border Agency. With this in mind, we thought it would be useful to remind future students about some of the most recent changes to the Tier 4 student visa requirements.
Tier 4 sponsors’ register check
It is extremely important that the UK education provider you have chosen is listed on the Tier 4 sponsors’ register when you apply and also when you leave the UK. This means that this education institution has the licence and therefore the right to recruit international students. In 2012 several renowned universities had their licence temporary revoked after failing to fulfil their duties as a sponsor under the Points-Based System. You can find the updated list of registered sponsors on the UKBA website.
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
Before applying for permission to enter or remain in the UK under Tier 4, you will need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This is given by your education provider and confirms that you have received an unconditional offer to study with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor.
Interviews as part of your application
The UKBA has recently introduced compulsory interviews for those who have applied for student visas to study in the UK. According to the UKBA, these interviews are meant to detect where false representations have been made or false documentation or information has been submitted. If you are applying for a student visa from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Burma, Nigeria or the Philippines you should expect to be asked questions about your immigration and education history, study and post-study plans, as well as your financial circumstances.
English skills testing
Demonstrating language skills has been an important part of the Tier 4 application process since 2009. When applying for a Tier 4 student visa you need to be aware of the level of English skills you need to attain. This will be determined by when your CAS was assigned, the type of course you will be following and the type of institution at which you will be studying. If you are studying at a High Education Institution (HEI), you are expected to be proficient in the English language to Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level B2, whereas if you are studying at a course below degree level, you are expected to attain a minimum of CEFR level B1. To prove that you have attained the required level of English, you will need to submit a valid test certificate. For a list of approved English language tests for Tier 4, including the time period for which tests are valid and the scores a Tier 4 applicant must achieve, please see the link below:
You might also be asked to demonstrate that you meet the English level of the test certificate submitted with your application, without the assistance of an interpreter.
The UKBA has recently introduced new pre-entry tuberculosis screening requirements for those wishing to enter the UK for more than six months. These requirements affect applications from 67 countries including Russia, China, India and South Africa. The TB screening for Tier 4 students will come into effect from 1 November 2012 so if you apply for your visa before that, you will not be affected by this.
Working while studying
If you are on a Tier 4 student visa and you are studying at degree level or above, you are entitled to do additional work, although no more than 20 hours per week in term time and full-time in holidays, unless you are working full-time for a student union in the holidays.
If your application is refused
If your visa application is refused, you will receive a document outlining the reasons for the refusal. Under the Points-Based System you may ask for an administrative review (AR) if you believe that the wrong decision has been made on the basis of the information that you provided with your application. You can do this by filling out an AR request notice which will be enclosed in your notice of refusal. Be careful, as you may not submit any new information with your AR request. It is therefore vital that you include all of the relevant information in your initial application. In this instance, you may also wish to make a fresh application, addressing the reasons for your refusal.
So, if you are applying for a Tier 4 student visa this summer, don’t get caught out: apply in good time, submit all of the relevant documents and make sure you check the UKBA website for any changes to the structure of your application. Be aware that applying for a Tier 4 student visa can often be a difficult and stressful process; Gherson’s expert immigration lawyers have extensive experience in Tier 4 applications. Contact us for more information.