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Tier 4 Visa Pilot

About the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme

On 18 December 2017, the Immigration Minister announced that 23 universities, including Warwick, had been invited to join the Tier 4 pilot for students starting their course in 18/19 academic year. The scheme was first launched in 2015 involving only four institutions (Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and Bath).

For unconditional offer holders of a 1-year Master's degree who have accepted their offer (UF), they are automatically entered into the scheme when they submit their Tier 4 visa application. The pilot scheme provides these eligible Master’s students (both taught and research Master’s) the opportunity to benefit from a far easier visa application process, and from having a longer visa. The scheme is referenced in Annex 6 of the Tier 4 policy guidance.

Some of the important advantages for students include:

A simpler visa application process- although you are required to meet all of the usual Tier 4 Immigration Rules, you will NOT be required to submit documents as financial evidence, academic qualification, or confirmation that you have successfully completed your previous UK course with your Tier 4 visa application. Please bear in mind, however, that 1) if you choose to submit these documents, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) caseworker will consider your application based on the documents submitted as usual; 2) the UKVI can request this evidence during the visa process and will be undertaking some spot-checks on applications submitted under this pilot. Therefore, if you are self-funded or funded by parents/guardian, you should wait until you have maintained the required amount of money for 28 days BEFORE you make your Tier 4 application.

(Please note: If you are required to submit an ATAS certificate and/or a TB screening certificate you must include these with your visa application.)

A longer visa- your visa expiry date will be calculated by adding 6 months to your course end date as stated on your CAS. This will be helpful if you wish to stay on in the UK to look for work or gain work experience as you will have more time after completing your course to make these arrangements.

Who is Eligible?

• Students applying for a Tier 4 visa to commence a Master’s degree of 13 months duration or less at the University of Warwick with a course start date of September 2018 or later (including if you intend to attend the Pre-sessional English course in July or August 2018). You will be eligible for the pilot scheme if you are applying for a visa overseas (entry clearance) or if you are applying from within the UK following successful completion of an undergraduate or previous postgraduate degree. Postgraduate certificate or diploma students will not be eligible.

• Dependants who make a Tier 4 student dependant visa application at the same time as an eligible main applicant. If dependants do NOT make their visa application at the same time, they will not be eligible under this scheme.

FAQs

Q1: The online application form says I need to submit supporting documents with my application, should I still do so?

A: As this is a pilot scheme affecting only a limited number of students at certain institutions, the Tier 4 online application form has not been changed to reflect this scheme (although the UKVI is aiming to update the form in the near future). Therefore, it might still indicate that you need to include documents with your visa application. Staff members in Visa Application Centres have been briefed about this. If the only documents you are submitting are passport, photos (with TB and/or ATAS if required), they might ask if you are sure about this. Take a print-out of your CAS with you if you'd like. If your CAS contains a confirmation that your CAS is assigned for a Tier 4 visa application under the pilot scheme, then you can be certain that you do not need to submit financial documents or your previous academic qualifications.

Q2: Do I still need to submit an ATAS certificate (if my subject requires this) or a TB (if required in my country) screening certificate?

A: Yes. If you are required to have ATAS or TB clearance, you must include these with your visa application.

Q3: What happens if I submit documents when they are not required, will they still be considered?

A: Yes. If you submit financial documents or previous qualifications with your application when they are not required, the caseworker will assess them in the normal way. If any of the documents you submit does not meet the Tier 4 requirements, your application will be refused. However, if you submit partial documents (for example, you submitted degree certificate but not bank statement), the caseworker will use their discretion and will request for further documents only if they think it's necessary.

Q4: If I don’t have to supply financial documents with my visa application, does this mean I don’t need to hold money for 28 days before I apply if I am self-funded or funded by my parents/guardian?

A: No. It is very important that you meet the Tier 4 requirements at the time you submit your Tier 4 application online, including the requirement to maintain required funds (covering full course fees as quoted on your CAS, and funds for maintenance which is £1015 per month for up to 9 months) for 28 days. Although students under the pilot will not have to submit these documents to the UKVI, the caseworker can request to see them if required and may do spot-checks on applicants applying under the pilot. If you are asked for documents and cannot provide them, your application will be refused.

Q5: I have been contacted by a caseworker to submit documents as part of their ‘spot check’/'discretionary check' for the pilot scheme. How long do I have to submit the documents?

A: The letter you receive from the caseworker should confirm how long you have to provide the documents. You should usually be given between 7-10 days but do refer to the letter. This is why we recommend that you have all the required documents to hand before making your visa application, in case you are spot-checked.

Q6: I am attending an English language pre-sessional course before my main Master’s course, am I still eligible for this scheme?

A: Yes. If you have a CAS which covers the duration of both the pre-sessional course and the Master’s degree, your application will be considered under the pilot scheme and a visa issued including the extra 6 months to cover the pre-sessional and the main course. However, if your CAS is for the duration of the pre-sessional course only, you will receive an initial visa for the pre-sessional course only. You will then benefit from the pilot scheme when you make your visa application for the main Master’s course.

Q7: I am applying for a one year visa extension to complete my undergraduate Masters qualification (MEng) following a course transfer. Can I apply under this scheme?

A: No. You are only eligible for the pilot if you are applying for a visa to start a Master’s degree of 13 months duration or less at Warwick.

Q8: I am on a 2-year Master’s degree with the 1st year at Diploma level and the 2nd year at Master’s level. Would I be eligible?

A: No. You are only eligible for the pilot if you are applying for a visa to start a Master’s degree of 13 months duration or less at Warwick.

Q9: Will my visa be processed more quickly under this scheme?

A: Not necessarily. You should make your application in good time and take into consideration the published visa processing time in your country. You should consider making a Priority Application if available in your country, if you need your application processed urgently.

Q10: Can I opt out of this scheme for whatever reason?

A: No. If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa to study an eligible course at Warwick, then your application will automatically be considered under the pilot. You are, of course, not obliged to remain in the UK after the end of your studies if you do not wish to use the additional time added to your visa end date.

Q11: Does it mean that I have to pay more Immigration Health Surcharge?

A: It is possible. If the additional 6 months take the total duration of your visa to more than 18 months, then you will be expected to pay Immigration Health Surcharge for 2 years.

Q12: Would I still be required to attend an interview as part of my visa application?

A: You will not be routinely interviewed but the UKVI reserve the right to interview some students in advance of issuing a visa.

Q13: According to the UKVI, I am from a ‘low risk’ country and do not need to submit documents based on my ‘low risk’ nationality anyway. How will this affect me?

A: If you are a 'low risk nationality', where asked, you should still indicate you are from a ‘low risk’ country (or are applying under the 'differentiation arrangement') on the application form and you do not need to submit certain supporting documents. Under the Tier 4 pilot scheme, you will benefit from the additional time added onto your visa end date.

Q14: What if I receive a visa refusal for not submitting my financial documents and academic qualification?

A: The UKVI caseworkers should have been fully briefed of this as the Pilot Scheme has been running in other institutions for 2 years. However, in the unlikely event that you receive a refusal, please contact us using our Refusal Notification Online form and we will contact the UKVI on your behalf.

Q15: I am eligible for the scheme and have received my new visa, but the visa decision letter states that I have been given 4 months rather than the 6 months additional time. Can I get this amended?

A: If you submitted your application outside of the UK, where possible, you should contact the centre where you applied for your visa straight away and ask that this document be corrected before you travel to the UK. You will be collecting your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) when you arrive in the UK and the end date on the BRP will be in line with the information in the letter you received. If you do not have time to do this, upon arrival in the UK and when you collect your BRP please contact the BRP Team and we will guide you on how to have this corrected.

If you submitted your application within the UK, you will need to go through the Administrative Review process. Please follow the instructions in your Decision Letter and submit an online enquiry if you require assistance on this.

Q16: What if my course is less than 13 months in duration but it will take me longer time to complete it because of an academic extension?

A: If you have already received a visa with the additional 6 months, you are permitted to use this period to complete your academic extension. If you would like to apply for a Tier 4 visa extension to cover the extension period, then the UKVI guidance is currently unclear whether your extension application will be eligible for the pilot scheme. Please discuss this with an International Student Adviser nearer the time.

Q17: What will I be able to do in the last 6 months of my visa?

A: You can use the last 6 months of your visa to study (to complete a period of academic extension, for example, or start a new course as long as the new course ends before your visa expiry date), to gain work experience or undertake an internship (subject to employer verification of your work permission), to prepare to switch to a work visa, or to attend graduate ceremony, if you remain in the UK during this period. Once you start on the course, you will have access to information about job search and careers guidance: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/careers/help/

Q18: How does it affect the ‘5/6-year’ study cap (time limit for studying in the UK)?

A: The additional 6 months will count towards the study cap. If you are adversely affected by this, please contact your Admissions team with your concern and an Admissions Officer will get back to you. It is likely that the University would sponsor you with a CAS if the only reason that you have exceeded the study cap is the additional 2 months granted under the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme (we understand that caseworkers will exercise discretion in these circumstances) but you will receive individual advice in you find yourself in this position.

Q19: Who should I contact for further information?

A: If you have any questions not answered by this FAQ, please contact us via the online Contact Form.

Additional information for Tier 4 students with dependants:

Q20: My dependant is planning on coming to the UK as my Tier 4 dependant but they will not be making their visa application at the same time as me. Will they still be included under the pilot?

A: No. If your dependant is not applying at the same time as you they will be required to include full evidence of their finances with their visa application. They should, however, get the extra time so that their visa expiry date will be the same as yours.

Q21: I am studying a Master’s course that is less than 12 months long. Does the additional six months added on my visa end date mean that my dependants can now apply for a Tier 4 dependant visa?

A: No. For family members to be eligible to apply as dependants, your course needs to be 12 months or longer and at postgraduate level, unless you are funded by the UK Government or the Government in your home country and the course is longer than six months.