Important update to UK student visa rules

This week the Home Office updated the rules for non-EU students studying in the UK. There are now massive restrictions on students working while they study. Other changes have also been made to the student visa system, which you need to be aware of if you intend to study in the UK.

Uk student visa

Who can no longer work

From November 2015 only students who are studying full-time (at degree level) at publicly funded British institutions will have the right to work 20 hours a week. If you don’t fit into this category, you are prohibited from working.

Exceptions to work restrictions

Students will be allowed to work:

  • If their course requires them to work
  • If their degree has a work-placement programme in which they participate

Unfortunately, all other non-EU students will be prohibited from working while they complete their studies in the UK.

Student dependants

If you are a student dependant, your right to work will also be severely limited. You will only be allowed to work in highly skilled positions. The Home Office plans to release more detail on this in the future, and we will keep you updated.

Converting your Tier 4 visa to a Tier 2 visa

Many students who completed their studies in the UK would apply to have their Tier 4 converted to a Tier 2 visa. The new rules, however, mean that only students who are studying full-time (at degree level) at publicly funded British institutions will be allowed to do this.

If you do not meet these criteria, you must apply for a Tier 2 (or a Tier 5) visa from outside of the UK after you have competed your studies. This application will then be subject to the resident labour market test.

Students studying below degree level

Students wishing to apply for a degree-level course after completing vocational studies or receiving a certificate or diploma will have to apply for their new course from outside of the UK. The time these students are allowed to spend in the UK on a Tier 4 visa has been reduced from three to two years.

How long are UK student visas valid for?

Whether studying towards a degree, certificate or diploma, a student visa’s time limit will be subject to a less favourable methods of determination. As of November 2015 all of the time a student spends in the UK will now be taken into consideration. Previously, only the duration of a student’s courses counted toward the time allowed by the student visa.

Degree-level learners will have a maximum of five years (with a few exceptions for doctoral candidates), while below-degree-level learners will only be allowed two years.

Monitoring students and their studies

From November 2015 the “established presence” concession will be discontinued. All students (not only those continuing their studies) will have to show that they have access to at least two months of maintenance funds. Students can also be asked to provide evidence of sufficient funds for a period of up to nine months if the Home Office deems it necessary.

In addition to this, the Home Office will be scrutinising institutions that award Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. This will happen where an institution has been identified as trying to circumvent the new rules. Students may also be interviewed by immigration officials to scrutinize their credibility and motivation to study.

If you’re a non-EU citizen and you need help with your student visa email 1st Contact Visas or give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7759 7527, and we’ll help you make sense of these new rules.

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  • Tom Green

    Well this sucks. My girlfriend has moved over from australia to study here and this is only going to put even more stress on her, she works incredibly hard as it is!

  • Faz

    Hi there

    I just completed my Masters programme at the University of Westminster. I am currently on Tier 4 Student visa, which has 20hr pr week work limitation conditioned to it during term time. Since the programme end on 12th Sept 2015, would I be able to work full time before my visa expires in a few months? Also, would the new rules applicable to my current visa condition, considering it was granted in 2014?

    Thank you for any assistance on this!