Immigration news update April 2020: coronavirus (COVID-19)
We understand that it is a difficult time for many international students during this rapidly evolving situation. Advice from the governments in the UK and other countries is understandably being updated on a very frequent basis. Student wellbeing is the top priority and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that everyone has the support they need.
We continue to liaise with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to distribute appropriate immigration guidance to UK international students. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) is the UK's national advisory body serving the interests of international students and they have up-to-date information on COVID-19 issues.
If you have specific questions relating to your visa or immigration status, please email Student Services firstname.lastname@example.org
Rest assured, we are working very hard to give you the support you need.
New immigration system:
The UK government have set out details of the UK’s new immigration system. These new arrangements will take place from January 2021, once freedom of movement within the EU has ended.
Student visa routes will be opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. If you are currently in the UK and from the EU, EEA or Switzerland then you may want to consider applying for the EU settlement scheme before June 2021 if you have not done so already.
Graduate route still on track:
The home office has confirmed that a new Graduate Immigration route will be available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK from summer 2021. This will enable students to remain in the UK and work at any skill level for two years after they have completed their studies.
This means that, although anything could change before next summer, the UK Government currently still intends to introduce a two-year Graduate Route. We have no details yet and do not expect to have any until later this year.
Immigration news update March 2020
Increase to immigration health surcharge
As part of the recent budget the UK Government has announced that the immigration health surcharge (IHS) will increase from October 2020.
We do not yet have an exact date, but it will affect people who make a visa application on or after the date on which the increase comes into effect.
This means that students and their family members will be required to pay £470 a year, instead of the current annual charge of £300. Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) applicants will pay the same amount.
Other applicants who are liable to pay the HIS (such as those applying for Tier 2 visas) will be charged £624 a year, instead of the current £400 charge. However, children under 18 years old will pay £470 a year.
The policy costings document accompanying the budget confirms the date of implementation as October 2020. It also states that European Economic Area (EEA) nationals will be required to pay the immigration health surcharge at these new rates from January 2021. However, this does not apply to EEA and Swiss nationals and their family members who have settled status (indefinite leave) or pre-settled status (limited leave) under the EU settlement scheme or who are eligible to apply for immigration permission under this scheme (the deadline for making an application is 30 June 2021). They remain exempt from the immigration health surcharge.
Immigration news update February 2020
The Graduate Immigration Route (post study working visa) - what's happening?
There has been no further information since the General Election which took place in December 2019. However, Home Office policy staff are still developing the scheme and have said that they might be able to publish more details around May or June this year. Details were originally published in the Home Office fact sheet: Graduate Immigration Route
- The Graduate Immigration Route will be available to international students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance and who have a valid Tier 4 visa at the time of application.
- Successful applicants on this route will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years. Graduates will be able to switch into skilled work once they have found a suitable job.
- The new route will be launched in the summer of 2021, meaning that any eligible student who graduates in the summer of 2021 or after will be able to apply for the route. This includes students who have already started their courses. Universities will also be able attract students starting in the 2020/21 academic year on the basis that they will benefit.
- The graduate immigration route will require a new application and will include the payment of a visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge. The exact fee will be set out in due course.
- Those who graduate and whose Tier 4 leave expires before the route is introduced (in the summer 2021) will not be eligible.
Brexit and the EU Settlement SchemeThe UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 with a transition period until 31 December 2020 (this may be extended), during which time negotiations for the future relationship will take place.
If you are living in the UK now, you and your eligible family members can remain doing so until 30 June 2021. However, after this date, you will need to have immigration permission if you wish to remain in the UK.
The EU settlement scheme is designed to offer you the opportunity to protect your residence in the UK to be able to continue to work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK, as well as travel into and out of the UK. There will be no restrictions on study (where you study or what you study).
Please look at our webpage for more information on the EU Settlement Scheme.
Also look at the University’s webpage: Brexit advice for students.
Arriving in the UK: problems with eGates at the airport
Do not use eGates even if the Border official guides you that way!
When you arrive at the airport, you may be directed to use the eGates which is a quicker automated way of passing through border control. However, if you use the eGates, you will not get a stamp in your passport and you need this stamp to prove you have entered the UK legally. When you arrive at the University of Plymouth, we will ask to see the stamp. Without this stamp, you may not be able to enrol on your degree course and you may have to leave the UK and re-enter to get the stamp from a border official. Please read our webpage Arriving in the UK which details more fully on what to do so you can avoid this.
Immigration news update January 2019
The immigration health surcharge
The immigration health surcharge will double if you make your immigration application on or after 8 January 2019. This means it will cost £300 per year of leave granted for Tier 4 students and Tier 4 dependants. This charge is only payable when you apply for a new visa.
EU settlement scheme open to students from January
The EU settlement scheme has been tested since summer 2018. From 21 January 2019, it will be open to most students. You will be eligible to apply under it if you are either:
- An EU national with a valid passport (not identity card), or
- A non-EU citizen who has a residence card or permanent residence
card issued on the basis of an application you made on or after 6 April 2015.
ISA is not authorised to give advice about this scheme but we will help with guidance where we can.
New innovator route
Details of a new innovator route, a start-up visa route and the closure or restriction of the Tier 1 (Investor) route, as outlined in the Immigration Minister's statement of 6 December, are expected next year in a statement of intent, followed by changes to the Immigration Rules around April.
CAH codes replace JACS for ATAS
A reminder that CAH, or CAH3 codes replace JACS codes from 1 January 2019 for the purposes of Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance. The ATAS website now lists all relevant CAH codes. ATAS clearance certificates issued on the basis of JACS codes will be accepted in immigration applications made before or after this date, as long as you applied for the ATAS certificates before 1 January 2019.
important immigration changes come into force in November 2018.
Submitting documents with a tier 4 visa application:
From 5 November, you will no longer need to submit photographs as part of an application in the UK. From 5 November you will also no longer be required to submit original documents (copies will be accepted) for an application made inside or outside the UK. The process for applying in the UK will also change. We do not yet have full details, but the Home Office has said that you will be able to scan documents instead of sending them, which means you will keep your passport and other evidence. However, if you travel outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) after you have made an immigration application, the Home Office will treat your application as withdrawn. This means that, although you will be able to keep your passport, you should not travel unless you want to abandon your application. To return, you would have to make another application outside the UK.
Immigration health surcharge increase:
The Government has announced that the immigration health surcharge will double, probably from December 2018. This means that if you plan to make a Tier 4 application around that time, you should ensure that you have enough money to pay £300 per year, instead of the current fee of £150.
Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
The CAH codes which replace JACS codes from 1 January 2019 are listed on pages 19-21 of the Statement of Changes. The new list of subjects which require ATAS clearance in Appendix 6 will affect decisions made on or after 1 January next year. However, a clearance certificate applied for from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before 1 January 2019 will be valid for use in an application made or decided after 31 December 2018.
New UK Immigration Rules changes from 6 July 2018
There are some changes in the immigration rules coming into force on the 6 of July. Full details of the changes can be found here https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/studentnews/1151/Summary-of-changes-to-the-Immigration-Rules-affecting-applications-made-on-or-after-6-July-2018. We include a brief summary of the main points below.
Dependants of Tier 4 students: Dependants of tier 4 students on a postgraduate course will now be able to apply where the tier 4 student’s course is at least nine months long.
ATAS: Students coming to the UK for less than six months (for a course with relevant JACS codes) are now required to obtain ATAS clearance. This will affect students coming to the UK on Short term study visas.
Different documentary requirements: 11 Additional nationalities have been added to the list of students who are able to apply under the differentiation arrangements for low-risk nationals including China and Kuwait. Students from Oman will no longer be able to apply under these arrangementsChange for optional placement students from March 2018
This information is only relevant to Tier 4 visa students who wish to do an optional placement as part of their degree.
Students undertaking an optional placement year will most likely not have enough time left on their current Tier 4 visa to complete the final year of their degree. In the past, students could apply for a new Tier 4 visa before or after the placement. However, UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) have instructed us to advise students they should apply for the Tier 4 visa and get it granted BEFORE the optional placement commences. This will make it difficult for some students who may not have the time or finances in place.
UKVI are currently reviewing the policy to see if an exemption can be put in place for optional placement students but, until policy is reviewed, we strongly advise students to apply for the new Tier 4 visa as per their instructions. It is usually safest to apply beforehand anyway to ensure you have the correct time on your visa to cover your final year.
We advise students to contact us as soon as possible if they hold a Tier 4 visa and wish to enquire about optional placements.
Application fees from 6 April 2018
From the 6 April 2018 there will be an increase in the application
fees for most visa applications. The new fees are:
- Apply outside the UK for Tier 4 and dependants is £348 per
- Apply in the UK for Tier 4 and dependants are:
- Standard application is £475 per application.
- Priority application is £952 per application.
- Premium application is £1085 per application.
- BRP replacement application is £56.
New UK Immigration Rules changes from 11 January 2018
The Home Office have released changes to the Immigration Rules which affect students making a Tier 4 application and those coming to the UK as a ‘short-term student’. These changes took effect on 11 January 2018 and will affect an application made on or after that date.
Here is a summary of the most relevant changes for international students:
Changes to Tier 4
- Students who need to make a Tier 4 application to undertake an optional study abroad programme or an assessed work placement, or who need to extend their visa having completed a study abroad programme or work placement as part of their course will be exempt from having to meet any requirement about academic progress. This is good news as it means optional placement students can now extend their visas from within the UK and can apply before or after their placement.
Changes for ‘Short-term students’
- The minimum age to apply as a short-term student will be reduced from 18 to 16. This means that students aged 16 and over will be eligible to come to the UK for the longer period of 11 months in order to study an English language course.
- Short-term students are currently required to leave the UK at the end of their course or at the end of the six month period of immigration permission, whichever is sooner. This will change to allow short-term students to stay for up to 30 days after the course has ended.
- It has been made clearer that students will be able to undertake courses concurrently and consecutively as long as all courses can be completed within the six month validity period of the visa.
- A student who is enrolled on a course abroad in medicine, veterinary medicine and science, or dentistry which is equivalent to at least degree level study in the UK, will be able to undertake electives relevant to their course of study as a short-term student if they are accepted by a UK higher education institution and these electives are unpaid and involve no treatment of patients.
Changes to post-study work options
- Tier 4 students (excluding those studying a PhD) who are switching to Tier 2 (General) currently need to have completed and passed their course. This will change so that students can make their application for Tier 2 as soon as the course has been completed. If the final degree certificate or academic transcript is not yet available, evidence can be submitted stating the date the course was completed, having sat all exams and presented all academic papers. This does not affect PhD students.
- Electronic visas for applications made outside of the UK will be introduced and trialled initially with specific groups. This means that when an entry clearance application is granted, the immigration permission will usually be endorsed in the passport, but in some cases it will be granted electronically.
56 day rule for distance learners: If a student
wishes to apply for short-term study to complete a distance learning course in
the UK, they must meet all of the following criteria. They must be :
studying for the majority of your time outside of the UK for a UK qualification
by distance learning
on a course that is longer than six months
enter the UK for limited periods, totalling no more than 56 days in the
UK in any six month period- study completed during visits can include induction
weeks, short periods of intensive face-to-face learning and exams or
Please contact Student Services at email@example.com if you have any questions.