Changes to tier 4 student visas: July 2015

Under changes to the Immigration Rules announce on 13 July 2015, those in the country on Tier 4 student visas will face further restrictions to work and restrictions if they want to change course of study.

Anyone studying in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, or planning on applying for a Tier 4 visa, need to be aware of the following changes:

  • From August, students at publicly funded colleges will no longer be allowed to work whilst studying.
  • From August, students who want to change course must demonstrate a link to their previous course, or get confirmation from their university that the course supports their career aspirations. This process will involve ‘credibility interviews’.
  • From November, college students will only be able to extend their visas for university-level courses if they are studying at an ‘embedded college’ which is directly linked to a Home Office approved university. If applying to study at a different university the student has to leave the UK and re-apply for a new visa. This breaks the residence period for those wanting to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
  • From November, college students will be banned form switching to Tiers 2 or 5 in the UK. Instead they will have to leave the UK and reapply.
  • From November, the maximum time limit for study at further education (pre-university education) will be reduced from 3 to 2 years.
  • From autumn, dependents of those on Tier 4 visas will be banned from taking ‘low or unskilled jobs’. They can undertake part-time or full-time skilled work.

These changes will limit the ability for international students to support themselves and their dependents whilst studying in the UK. It is anticipated these changes will also make it harder for students to convert Tier 4 visa routes to applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain, because of the changes requiring students to leave the UK and re-apply from their country of origin.

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