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Immigration Policy Changes from 6 April 2016


  1. Who can switch into the Tier 4 (General) student category (i.e. make a Tier 4 application from within the UK)?


There are now 4 factors that an applicant/student must consider before deciding whether they can make a Tier 4 application from within the UK (see Tier 4 Policy Guidance for details). It is necessary to have valid (unexpired) leave at the point of application. The 4 factors are as follows:


  • Current type of leave (for example, a switch from Tier 4 (General) or Tier 4 (Child) is fine but a switch from a PBS Dependant visa to Tier 4 (General) is not permitted)

  • Gap between Tier 4 visa expiry date and new course start date (this must be less than 28 days)

  • Academic Progression (new rules from 6 April 2016 mean that there will be more situations where a student will be required to apply from overseas). Please go here for more information:

  • NEW FROM 6 APRIL 2016 Type of institution which was previous Tier 4 sponsor. If the Tier 4 sponsor was a HEI, HEI Overseas, an embedded college offering pathway courses (according to the Home Office definition of this), or an independent school, it will be fine to apply from within the UK. If leave was granted by a Further Education College, or any other type of institution not listed, then the new visa application must be made from outside of the UK. It is possible to confirm the type of institution from the Tier 4 sponsor register


If any one of the above factors requires the student to apply from outside of the UK, according to the Tier 4 rules, this means that the student will need to apply from outside of the UK.


  1. Making Changes to your course of study (including when you are upgraded, restart a course, decide to take an intercalated year or study abroad year)

The study condition for Tier 4 (General) students is being tightened so that if you apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa on or after 6 April 2016 you can only change course at the same institution without making a new Tier 4 visa application if:

      • you have not completed the course for which your CAS was assigned
          • the course is taught by a UK recognised body or HEI that has Tier 4 sponsor status
              • the course is at degree level or above
                  • the new course isn’t at a lower level than the previous course for which you were granted leave
                      • you will be able to complete the new course within your current period of leave
                          • if you have previously been granted Tier 4 (General) or Student leave your sponsor must confirm that:
                                • the course is related to the previous course for which you were granted leave (that is, it is connected to your previous course, part of the same subject group or involves deeper specialisation) or
                                      • your previous course and the new course in combination support the your genuine career aspirations

                                      For more information please go here:

                                      1. Working During Your Studies


                                        By clarifying the rules around working and Tier 4 in the latest Tier 4 Policy Guidance the Home Office wishes to make it clear that the main purpose of the Tier 4 visa route is for a student to come to the UK to study. Where the Tier 4 visa permits some work, the intention is that this should be to supplement income whilst studying. In most cases, the Home Office would expect the student to take a part-time role for an established business/organisation. A work placement is permitted provided that it is an integral and assessed part of the student’s main course (for example, students on a course which includes an intercalated year).


                                        Under Tier 4 a student is strictly prohibited from undertaking the following types of employment, irrespective of the number of hours:


                                      • Be employed as a doctor in training (except on a recognised foundation programme);

                                      • Be employed as a professional sportsperson (including a sports coach);

                                      • Be employed as an entertainer;

                                      • Be self-employed or engage in business activity; or

                                      • Fill a full-time, permanent vacancy (except on a recognised foundation programme as a doctor in training, or as a students’ union sabbatical officer).

                                      Many students are at risk of unknowingly being self-employed, or engaging in a business activity, so the University strongly advises that student read the full definitions in the April 2016 version of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance (paragraphs 282-286).

                                      The penalties of illegal working for both ‘employer’ and ‘employee’ can be severe so Tier 4 sponsored students must ask themselves the following questions before starting work (either paid or unpaid), or undertaking any business activity in the UK:

                                      • Does my Tier 4 visa permit work? If yes, what is the maximum number of hours permitted each week?

                                      • When can I be considered to be in a vacation period? Do University vacation periods apply to my course level?

                                      • Is the type of work I would like to do strictly prohibited under Tier 4 and, if so, can I do this at all?

                                      • Could any of the activities that I am involved in in the UK be defined as ‘self-employment’ or a ‘business activity’?


                                      1. Working After Your Studies

                                      The Immigration Minister announced that Tier 2 changes will not affect Tier 4 (General) students. This is positive news for international students in the UK.

                                      This means that:

                                      • Employers will continue to be able to recruit non-EEA graduates of UK universities without first testing the resident labour market and without being subject to the annual limit on Tier 2 (General) places (which will remain at 20,700 places per year).

                                      • From autumn 2016, extra weighting within the Tier 2 (General) limit will be given to businesses sponsoring overseas graduates, and will allow graduates to switch roles within a company once they have secured a permanent job at the end of their training programme.

                                      • There will be no change to the work rights of dependants of Tier 2 migrants.

                                      • The minimum salary threshold for new entrants, which applies to Tier 4 (General) students will remain at £20,800.

                                      • Employers who sponsor Tier 4 (General) students under Tier 2 will not have to pay the immigration skills charge when that is introduced, probably in April 2017.



                                      Other Changes


                                      • Tier 4 (General) students applying in the UK in order to be a postgraduate doctor or dentist, or a student union sabbatical officer, only have to show a maximum of two months’ worth of funds for their living costs. (All other Tier 4 applicants have to show monthly living costs for each remaining month of their courses.)

                                      • A Tier 4 visa application could be refused if the applicant has an outstanding debt for NHS treatment of £500 or more; or if the applicant has been involved in a legal case with the Home Office and as a result has been instructed to pay the Home Office's legal costs, but failed to do so.

                                      • Tier 4 Visa Application Fees have increased: Overseas from £322 to £328, UK by post from £439 to £448, UK In-person from £839 to £948.