Latest student immigration news

Immigration news update September 2019

UK announces 2-year post-study work visa for international students

The new ‘Graduate’ route will be open to all international students who have valid UK immigration status as a student and have successfully completed a course of study in any subject at undergraduate level or above at an approved UK Higher Education Provider. The visa will allow eligible students to work, or look for work, in any career or position of their choice, for two years after completing their studies.

This builds on UK government action to help recruit and retain the best and brightest global talent, as well as opening up opportunities for future breakthroughs in science, technology and research and other world-leading work that international talent brings to the UK.

We do not have much information on this new graduate post study visa but this is what the Home Office has confirmed so far:

  • any international student who will complete their course in or after the summer of 2021 will be eligible to apply for the new two year Graduate route
  • unfortunately the Graduate route will not be open to those who have completed their studies or are due to complete them in the summer of 2020.
Look at the UKCISA webpage for some more limited information.

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 Plymouth University, we will ask to see the stamp. Without this stamp, you may not be able to enrol on your degree programme 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.

Some 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 6th of July. Full details of the changes can be found here 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 arrangements

Change 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 application.

- 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

Updated 12/02/2018

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.

Other changes

  • 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.

 Distance Learners

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 :

  • be studying for the majority of your time outside of the UK for a UK qualification by distance learning
  • be on a course that is longer than six months
  • only 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 assessments.

Please contact Student Services at if you have any questions.

New immigration application changes from 6 April 2017

Updated 06/04/2017

Application fees from 6 April 2017

From the 6th April 2017 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 £335 per application.

- Apply in the UK for Tier 4 and dependants are:

  • Standard application is £457 per application.  
  • Priority application is £916 per application.
  • Premium application is £1047 per application

- BRP replacement application is £56.

Working in the UK on a Tier 4 visa

Tier 4 visa holders should already be aware that they can only work a certain number of hours per week during term time. What is a week?

From 6 April 2017, 'week' will be defined in the Immigration Rules as "a period of seven days beginning with a Monday". This is different from the Home Office's view until now, so make sure that your working hours and work pattern fits this definition.

You must, if necessary, change your working hours so that from 6 April 2017 you are working no more than 20 hours in any seven-day period starting on a Monday. If you work irregular hours and/or have more than one employer, you will need to keep detailed records of how many hours you work each day so that you can be sure that you are not in danger of breaching your work condition.

Are you self-employed? What does self-employed mean?

Please be reminded that you are not permitted to be self-employed on a Tier 4 Visa under current Immigration Rules. This may not sound relevant to you but you may become self-employed by mistake which could have serious consequences.

Normally, a person is self-employed if they run a business or work for themselves but this is not always the case. Your employer might suggest that you work for them on a 'self-employed' or 'freelance' basis to reduce their paperwork. You must not agree to this as you might end up breaching your work conditions.

The Government has more detailed information about self-employment. It explains when you are likely to be self-employed even if you have not yet told HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), for example, running your own business selling goods and services for profit, including online and through apps or working as a private tutor.


Immigration update: Statement of Changes HC667 from 4 November 2016

Updated 4/11/2016

The Home Office has announced changes to the new immigration rules that were introduced in April 2016. The majority of the changes will affect applications made on or after 24 November 2016.

Here are some of changes:

Students who have failed modules or coursework:

Students who need to extend their Tier 4 visa because they had to repeat parts of their degree programme in the past can now apply to extend their visas from within the UK.

Transferring to a different degree programme:

Students who intend to transfer to a new programme or have already transferred to a new programme will probably have to apply for a new Tier 4 visa from outside of the UK. If this is relevant to you, please make an appointment with an advisor in the ISA team.

Students doing an optional work or study placement:

Students who have added an optional work or study placement year to their undergraduate course may find their Tier 4 visa is not long enough to complete the degree. You will need to extend your visa to ensure you have enough time to complete your degree programme. You must apply to renew your Tier 4 visa from outside of the UK.


Students who did not put in a Tier 4 leave to remain visa application on time before their visa expires will only have their application accepted if made within 14 days (instead of 28 days as in the past) of leave expiring and must provide evidence of the good reason (included in the application).  

Maintenance evidence for dependants of Tier 4 students

The Home Office has changed its guidance on how to calculate the money a dependant needs to show when they make their immigration application. It used to say that it depended on the length of a student’s course. Now it says that it depends on the length of the student’s immigration permission.


A PhD student needs three months for corrections. She has two dependants. She would normally be granted three months leave to complete the PhD plus an extra 4 months.

Before 24th Nov 2016, she needed to evidence three months of maintenance (living costs) for herself plus three months for her dependants. The new rules state dependants now need to show the monthly maintenance for the whole of the immigration leave granted. So, in this example, the dependants need to show evidence of seven months maintenance.

If you are looking to extend your visa and you are concerned about this then please book an appointment with an advisor in ISA.

For further details on all changes, please read the summary of changes on the UKCISA website.


Changes to the academic progression rules on 6 April 2016

Updated 25 May 2016

We are still in discussion with the Home Office about some of their recent changes to the immigration rules on the 6 April 2016.

The following students are likely to be affected:

  • Students who have repeated in the past but need to extend their Tier 4 visa in order to complete their studies with Plymouth University.
  • Students who have recently failed part of their programme and who no longer have long enough on their current Tier 4 visa to allow them to complete the whole degree programme.
  • Students who intend to transfer to a new programme.
  • Students who started studying on a new programme using their current Tier 4 visa, but now need to extend their Tier 4.
  • Students who have added a work or study placement year to their undergraduate course.

The rules from the 6 April 2016 may mean that you are no longer able to apply for your Tier 4 visa in the UK. We are still waiting for clarification from the Home Office and will update this section once we know.

Study time limits (caps) changes from 6 April 2016

The immigration rules clarify that when calculating the time limits (or ‘caps’) on study, it is the period of leave that you have previously been granted that will count towards the time limits, even if you did not spend all of this time studying and/or you used this time to study a different level of course. More information on UKCISA webpage

Changing your course from 6 April 2016

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 if:

  • you haven’t 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

A course change can also have an impact on your ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) clearance if you had one for your original course or you may need ATAS clearance for your new course.

If you change your course you must complete your new course within your existing period of leave; you will not be granted further leave from within the UK to complete the course. If you do need further leave to complete your course you must apply from overseas as per the Tier 4 of the PBS Policy Guidance 6/4/2016

Please make an appointment with Student Services to discuss your plans first by emailing

 NHS Treatment medical costs from 6 April 2016

Your visa application could be refused if you have an outstanding debt for NHS (medical) treatment of £500 or more; or if you have been involved in a legal case with the Home Office and as a result you have been instructed to pay the Home Office's legal costs, but you have failed to do so.

 New immigration application charges from 18 March 2016

From the 18 March there will be an increase in the application fees for most visa applications.  

Tier 4 and dependants - outside the UK £328

Tier 4 and dependants - Standard application in the UK £448

Tier 4 and dependants - Premium application in the UK £948

BRP replacement - £56

 Right to Rent Checks

Since 1 February 2016, landlords in England have had to comply with the new ‘right-to-rent’ rules. This means that when they agree new tenancies, they must check the immigration status of their tenants. This applies to new tenancy agreements only, so students in existing tenancies, or who renew their agreements with no change to living arrangements, don’t need to be checked. The new rules apply only in England, but university-owned accommodation is exempt. More information is on the Gov.UK Right to Rent Checks

 New application form for Tier 4 applications in the UK from 1 February 2016

From the 1 February 2016, there will be a new version of the Tier 4 application form for applications made in the UK. Links to the most common Tier 4 applications can be found here:

Extending your T4 visa in the UK

Applying for T4 visas outside of the UK (including dependants)

If your baby is applying later than you from within the UK

If your partner is applying later than you from within the UK

Changes in Tier 4 financial requirements

This message only applies to you if you have a Tier 4 visa and if your current Tier 4 visa does not cover the whole of your course.

If you apply for a new Tier 4 visa on or after 12 November 2015, the amount of maintenance (living costs) will increase. Please read the following:

If you apply for your new Tier visa before 12 November 2015:
Current rules still apply: You need to have £1,640 or £7,380 maintenance (living costs) to apply for a new Tier 4 visa. In addition, if you have dependants, they will need to show maintenance too.

If you apply for a new Tier 4 visa on or after 12 November 2015:
The amount of maintenance (living costs) will increase to £1,015 per month. The UKVI require you to show nine months of this maintenance so this means you need to show evidence that you have £9,135 in your bank account plus any unpaid tuition fees. In addition, if you have dependants, each one must also show they have £6,120.
a) A student needs to extends her visa as her current visa is not long enough to cover her course. She has no dependants. She needs to have evidence of £9,135 for maintenance plus any unpaid tuition fees.
b) A student needs to extend his visa and has 2 dependants (wife/child). He needs to have evidence of £9,135 plus any unpaid tuition fees for yourself PLUS £6,120 for each dependant.

If you receive sponsorship from your government/official establishment, any sponsor letter will need to reflect these new figures.

Established presence for existing students will no longer exist and you'll not have the option to show a lower amount if you apply on or after 12 November 2015.

If you wish to read more about the new changes, please visit UKCISA. If you have any queries, please visit ISAS and we will explain the changes to you. We are situated in room 008, Roland Levinsky Building on the ground floor.

Tier 4 visa application form and payment of IHS surcharge

From 5 July 2015, the Tier 4 application forms will automatically calculate how much of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) applicants have to pay (at the moment this has to be done on a separate portal). This change will affect the Tier 4 application system on 4 July 2015. Please read the information on UKCISA website carefully. If you are starting a new application then we would recommend waiting until 5 July 2015 to do so in order to avoid any problems with the application forms.

New process for Biometric Residence Permits (BRP) and students applying for a visa to stay in the UK for six months and longer

After being granted a visa, do not be surprised to see that the new visa vignette (sticker) in your passport is only valid for 30 days. This will be your temporary permission to enter the UK and you must arrive within the dates stated on this temporary visa. When you arrive in the UK, you will be required to collect your BRP within ten days (this will be your 'proper' UK visa and the dates on it would cover the whole period of your study here). You will need your BRP before you enrol on your course and, if required, to register with the police. Some universities are allowed to give the BRPs directly to the student and the visa application will ask you to enter an Alternative Collection Location (ACL code). However, Plymouth University will not be holding or distributing BRPs so you will need to collect the BRP from the main Post Office in Plymouth city centre (St Andrews Post Office). To collect your BRP, you will need your original passport and the decision letter (the process will also be explained in your decision letter).

IMPORTANT: please note that the course start date and final enrolment date stated on your CAS still apply to your enrolment here, regardless of the travel dates stated on the temporary visa.

When you arrive in Plymouth, come to the ISAS office and we will advise you where the post office is and its opening times.

Visa for visitors

Since 24 April 2015, it has not been possible to apply for entry clearance or leave to remain as a 'student visitor'. Routes for various types of 'short-term student' have been introduced instead. For more details please visit UKCISA website and the Home Office website

The General Visitor visa has been replaced by 'Standard Visitor' route. For more information please visit the Home Office website

Exit checks from 8 April 2015

The Home Office will now check the immigration status of those leaving, as well as entering, the UK. For more information please visit the UKCISA website.

Health charge

On 6 April 2015 the Home Office introduced a health charge which must be paid by all non-EEA nationals who apply to come or stay in the UK to work, study or join family for a period longer than six months. Visa holders will then be entitled to receive free National Health Service (NHS) treatment.

The surcharge is set at £150 per year for students, with dependants generally paying the same amount as the main applicant. For more details please visit the UKCISA and UK Visas & Immigration website.

New immigration fees from 6 April 2015

Tier 4 entry clearance application (submitted out of the UK) fee is now £322 and a fee for a leave to remain application (submitted in the UK) is now £439. For the full list of fees please visit the UKCISA website.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) requirement

Students applying for leave under Tier 4 in order to do a course, or undertake research, in the subject areas listed in Appendix 6 of the Immigration Rules are required to obtain ATAS clearance. On 6 April 2015 this requirement was extended to include a number of other immigration categories. This means that students applying in a category other than Tier 4 (General) Student - for example dependants or spouses - will now need to apply for ATAS certificate as well. Please visit the UKCISA website for more information.

Curtailment (cancellation) of leave

From 6 April 2015, anyone who has limited leave to enter or remain can be asked by the Home Office to provide information/evidence, or attend an interview, in order to check whether their leave should be curtailed for a variety of reasons. For more information please visit the UKCISA website.      

Tier 4 time limit (cap) on study

There is a maximum time limit ("cap") on studying with a Tier 4 visa which is currently five years to study at a degree level. It is very important to always remember the cap especially if you intend to undertake an optional placement or are repeating a part of your course. For more information please visit the UKCISA website.

Immigration procedures after arrival will change in future

The UK Government is going to change the way that it issues permission for people to come to the UK from abroad for more than six months. Since 18 March 2015 it has been applicable only to students applying from Pakistan. The scheme is going to be extended from mid-April to people applying in many other countries including Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Libya, Maldives, Nepal, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and many European Economic Area (EEA) states. All the remaining countries in the world will be included on 31 July 2015. Please visit UKCISA website for more information.

Increase in Tier 4 visa application fees

There is an increase in application fee for Tier 4 visa applications made on or after 18 March 2016. The fee for a standard visa application will increase from £439 to £448 per applicant. The fee for a Premium visa application will increase from £839 to £948 per applicant (faster service).

If you are applying from outside of the UK, the fee will increase to £328.