The aim of Visa News is to provide you with important information, advice and news on UK immigration rules. We will also run a number of events and workshops throughout the year to keep you fully informed.
Tuesday 8th January 2019
Immigration Health Surcharge Increase
The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) has increased for Tier 4 applicants from £150 per year to £300. Periods of between 6 months and 1 year will be charged at the full year rate and periods of under 6 months will cost £150. The IHS is a mandatory fee that has to be paid as part of the visa application process to cover the duration of the stay in the UK. It enables those who have paid to use the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, meaning private medical insurance is not required.
Wednesday 7th February 2018
On Monday 5th February 2018 the UK government announced that they plan to increase the IHS charge for temporary migrants. A date has not been released for when the proposed changes will come in to effect.
Thursday 15th February 2018
Following the recent UK Immigration Rule changes made on 11th January 2018 the team have summarised below the relevant changes to the University of Reading.
Students can now study PT courses under the Tier 4 (General) route at RQF level 7 and above. Distance learning courses are not considered to be PT. Students on PT courses cannot extend their visa from within the UK and they cannot work (including work placements) or bring dependants.
They will be charged at the same rate as full-time students for the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) and will be subject to the Tier 4 time limits/caps. The Home Office have said that they intend to review the current caps in the future.
An exemption has been added to academic progression - students on a 3-year bachelor’s course who want to add a work placement can now apply to extend their visa from within the UK to cover the 4-year programme. They can apply either within 3-months of starting a work placement or within 3-months of their leave expiring. Previously, these students had to leave the UK to make their application.
This also applies to students who complete a study abroad programme.
Single CAS and English language requirement
Students who need to improve their English language within level B2 can now be issued a single CAS for both a Pre-Sessional English (PSE) course and their main degree programme, providing the English requirement is the only condition needing to be met and that they have met all other entry conditions.
The PSE course must be no more than 3 months long and must end no more than one month before the start of the main degree course. Previously, it was only possible to issue single CAS’ to students who were at level B1 and needed to reach level B2.
Tier 4 Pilot
Students who are coming to the University of Reading to study a master’s course that is 13 months or less in duration will be eligible for the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme. The time spent on a PSE course on a combined CAS does not count.
The scheme will cover students who are starting in the academic year 2018/19.
The scheme allows students to stay in the UK for an additional 6 months after the end of their course. Current 12-month master’s students can stay for an additional 4 months after their course end date and 9-month master’s students can stay for an additional 2 months.
Students who are eligible for the scheme are not required to submit evidence of their qualifications or maintenance with their visa applications. However, they still must meet all of the Tier 4 requirements. The Home Office can request to see these documents at any time during the application process and if a student is unable to provide the evidence, they will be refused.
Please see our webpage dedicated to the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme here: www.reading.ac.uk/tier4pilot
Short-term study (STS)
When to leave the UK
Students must leave the UK within 30 days of their course end date/study period or before their visa expires, whichever is earliest.
The minimum age requirement for the STS visa has been reduced from 18 to 16.
Frequent or successive clarification
The STS route cannot be used for frequent or successive study periods. Clarification has now been added to define this, which is as follows:
- “successive use of the route if, for example, the student is seeking a second period of leave under the short-term study route where less than 2 months have passed since they last visited the UK for the purposes of short-term study
- frequent use of the route if, for example, the student is applying for in excess of 5 periods of leave under short-term study within a 5 year period”
There is room for discretion, but ultimately the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) or Border Force Officer (BFO) need to be satisfied that the applicant is a genuine short-term student and not studying full-time. The STS route is not to circumvent Tier 4.
STS and PT
Students cannot use the STS visa route to study a PT course that is longer than 6 months (or 11 months for English Language). This does not include distance learning courses; the definition of which can be found in the STS Policy Guidance, page 12.
Transitional period – students who started their PT course before 31st January 2018 can continue to apply for the STS visa until 31st January 2019. If their course goes beyond this date they will need to apply for a PT Tier 4 visa.
Changes for students switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2
Students no longer have to wait until they have their original degree certificate to apply for a Tier 2 visa. In these circumstances, they must provide:
“2. an original academic transcript or an academic reference on official headed paper from the institution at which you studied towards your eligible qualification.
It must have been issued by an authorised official and must confirm:
• your name;
• the course title/award;
• the course duration;
• the date you completed the course, having sat all exams and presented all academic papers, unless you were studying a PhD course where confirmation of 12 months’ study is required.”
This paired with the Tier 4 Pilot scheme maximises the amount of time students have to look and apply for work. However, in this circumstance they cannot start the job until their Tier 2 visa has been granted.