UK Immigration: Next set of changes to student visa rules is announced

UK Immigration Minister Damian Green has announced the next set of changes to the Immigration Rules affecting Tier 4 – the student tier – of the points-based system. The has been laid in Parliament today. The changes will come into effect on 4 July 2011.

The Home Secretary announced changes to the Immigration Rules in a statement to Parliament on 22 March, following a major public consultation on reforming Tier 4. The first set of changes came into effect on 21 April.

The aim of the revised Immigration Rules is to deliver a strong migration system which tackles immigration abuse, while allowing genuine students to study at genuine colleges.

From 4 July we will:
– Restrict work entitlements to migrants studying at higher educational institutions (HEIs) and publicly funded further education colleges only;
– Restrict the sponsorship of dependants to those studying at postgraduate level at HEIs on courses lasting at least 12 months, and government-sponsored students on courses lasting at least 6 months;
– Require education providers to vouch that a new course represents genuine academic progression;
– Ensure that maintenance funds are genuinely available to the applicant, by introducing a declaration on the visa application form;
– Commit to publish a list of financial institutions that we consider, on the basis of experience, do not verify financial statements to our satisfaction in more than 50 per cent of a sample of cases;
– Introduce a streamlined application process for low-risk nationals applying to attend courses with Highly Trusted Sponsors;
– Extend the list of courses for which students must receive ATAS clearance;
– Restrict the ability to deliver accountancy courses accredited by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) to those sponsors accorded platinum or gold status by ACCA; and
– Clarify the position of overseas universities with campuses in the UK.