Immigration news update August 2020
For those with visas expiring between the 24/01/2020 and the 31/08/2020
The Home Office guidance page Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and
temporary UK residents was updated again, on 30 July 2020.
Importantly, the guidance now provides a safety net for those with immigration permission expiring between 1 and 31 August.
The guidance now states that anyone with immigration permission expiring between 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020 will be able to stay in the UK until 31 August 2020, and any conditions attached to the immigration permission will continue until this date. There is no requirement to request this permission from the Home Office, but the guidance instructs that people should now regularise their stay by either making an application before 31 August 2020 or otherwise by making arrangements to leave the UK.
Those who are intending to leave the UK, but who cannot do so before the 31 August 2020, can contact the coronavirus immigration team (CIT) to request ‘exceptional indemnity’. This is not immigration permission but is stated as acting as a “short-term protection”. However, as covered in UKCISA news item of 29 July 2020, it is not clear how people will receive details of their ‘exceptional indemnity’ and how this might affect future applications.
The guidance still states that applications can be made in the UK where these would otherwise need to be made outside of the UK. People wanting to make an application to stay in the UK must still meet the relevant requirements of the immigration route and make their application before 31 August 2020.
Updates to the Covid-19 Guidance for Tier 4 students and Short term students
may be able to continue/start their course via distance/blended learning
on their tier 4 visa if their course allows as long as the student intends
to transition to face to face learning as soon as circumstances allow. Any
student who has a tier 4 visa regardless of whether in Plymouth or not
will still have to have their attendance/engagement on their course
who are unable to complete their course of study within their current period
of leave due to Covid-19 can apply in country to complete that course.
This includes students who need further time to complete an assessment or
Tier 4 students, excluding those awaiting a decision on an Administrative
Review of a previous application, who would otherwise be unable to extend
in country, will be able to exceptionally apply for further leave within
the UK, provided they do so before the expiry of their current leave, or,
if their leave expired between 24 January and 31 August and they were
granted an extension, by 31 August, or by 1 October if they have been
issued ‘exceptional indemnity’ by the Coronavirus Immigration Team. This
includes students studying at providers who would otherwise be required to
apply from 13 their home country for further leave, such as students at
non Higher Education Providers with a track record of compliance.
whose leave expired between 24 January and 31 August, or who need to make
a new application, and would normally be unable to demonstrate academic
progression because their new course is at the same level as the previous
one, or because they had been undertaking an integrated Masters or
PhD/MPhil but will be continuing with the lower level qualification, but
who cannot travel overseas to make an application due to Covid-19, will be
exempted from the academic progression requirement if the sponsor confirms
on the CAS that the previous course and the new course in combination
support the applicant’s genuine career aspirations.
a student is studying by distance or blended learning and is in the UK the
new guidance confirms that students will be limited to term-time work
hours stated on their visa.
in the UK on short term study or visit visas are exceptionally allowed to
switch into tier 4 in the UK as long as applicants arrived in the UK
before the 31st of July 2020 and must still meet all the other
requirements of the route. This will be allowed until the 1st
of October. Those arriving after the 31st of July 2020 will
not be permitted to switch to Tier 4 from within the UK.
Application Centres (VACs) are reopening in many locations both in the
United Kingdom and abroad, subject to local pandemic-related restrictions.
A limited number of VACs are initially opening for passport return only
before resuming other services. For updates to the status of VACs,
including opening times in your country, check Sopra Steria for the United
Kingdom; TLS contact for Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East; or
VFS global for all other countries.
- Those outside the UK with recently-expired UK 30-day entry visas, or entry visas about to expire, can apply for a free replacement visa through 2020 by contacting the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. Applicants will be contacted when visa application centres reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in their passport.
Immigration news update June 2020
Updated guidance for tier 4 migrants and short term students affected by Coronavirus has been recently released. We have included a breakdown of the key points below
If you have specific questions relating to your visa or immigration status, please email Student Services.
If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020
- Your visa can be extended to 31 July 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
- You must request an extension online.
Extending Tier 4 permission inside the UK
The guidance now makes clear that there is no concession in relation to the maintenance requirements.
There is a new concession which deals with the requirement in the Tier 4 Rules that there must be no more than 28 day gap between the end of the immigration permission and the start of the course. Paragraph 3.5 introduces a concession to this which accounts for those already in the UK who intend to start a new course in the autumn. It says that the Home Office will exercise discretion in not applying this 28-day rule if:
- the student had to apply before 31 July because their current leave would expire on or before that date, and
- the start date of the new course named on the CAS is no later than 1 October 2020
There is a new concession on academic progress at paragraph 3.7 for those applying for immigration permission in the UK to start a new course at the same level as their previous course and whose leave expires between 24 January and 31 July. They will be exempt from the requirement to demonstrate academic progression if the sponsor confirms on the CAS that the previous course and the new course in combination support the applicant’s genuine career aspirations. This concession will apply to courses with a start date before 01 October 2020.
The police registration concession has been rewritten to be made clearer.
There is an expanded list of professions who are able to work more than 20 hours a week (at paragraph 3.11).
Switching into the Tier 4 route in the UK
Paragraph 4.1 has been made clearer by saying that switching into Tier 4 from other immigration routes (not just ‘short-term’ routes) is allowed on exceptional basis.
Permitted study for short-term students
A new paragraph (paragraph 4.5) has been added to the guidance which permits short-term students whose leave expires after 31 July 2020 to study a further course. However, this is only if they are "unable to continue the course that they entered the UK to study by distance learning or they have completed their original course". This paragraph also states that the requirement to leave the UK within 30 days of the end of study will not be applied to those who are unable to leave the UK due to travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
If you are applying for a tier 4 visa and need to have an ATAS you can now apply online again
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.