Latest student immigration news

EU Settlement Scheme update: June 2021

Attention all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens students! There is less than one month to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) – the deadline is 30 June 2021.

Important: Do you have a UK permanent residence card? If yes but you do not have EU pre-settled/settled status yet, your card will only be valid until 30 June 2021.

After 30 June 2021, you’ll be able to use your card only once to travel to and enter the UK. To remain in the UK you’ll need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme within 28 days but we suggest you apply as soon as possible.

Have you already applied for the EU Settlement Scheme?

If you have, that’s great news! You can continue your studies as planned.

If you have not applied for the EU Settlement Scheme but you were resident (living) in the UK before 31 December 2020:

This is also good news. As long as you arrived in the UK before 23.00 on 31 December 2020, you will have until 30 June 2021 to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. You can continue your studies in the UK as planned. However, if you have been absent from the UK for more than 6 months, you may not be able to apply.

Come along to one of our June EU Settlement Scheme Zoom sessions to learn about the EUSS and ask questions to an advisor. If you cannot make a EUSS session, you can contact our team in other ways:

Email (we aim to respond to your email within three working days)

  • Phone: +44 1752 587676
  • Zoom: Join one of our morning ‘International Student Advice Zoom sessions’ Monday–Friday from 9:30–10:30 (UK time) where you can speak with a member of our team face-to-face to ask about anything you need help with. To join a session and speak to an advisor, open this Zoom link at the times stated above.
  • From the International Student Advice Team (ISA).

Travel news update May 2021

Before you leave for the UK you’ll need to:

  • provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test
  • complete a passenger locator form

Find out more about what you’ll need to do before you leave for the UK because of COVID-19. From 17 May, the rules for people arriving in England from abroad are changing. What you need to do depends on where you have been in the 10 days before you arrive. If you have been in a country or territory on the:

You must follow these rules even if you have been vaccinated. Find out what list the country you’ve been in is on and what you need to do

Until 17 May, you must follow the current testing and quarantine rules. Please make sure to keep checking the links as the guidance could change. Countries on the watch list could move into a different list at short notice.

Graduate Route news March 2021

We have now received more clarification on the Graduate immigration route which will provide international students with the opportunity to stay in the UK to live and work, or to look for work after they graduate.

The main points are:

  • the graduate route will open for applications on 1 July 2021
  • the route is for students who will complete a degree in or after the summer of 2021 and who hold a Tier 4 or Student visa at the time they apply
  • students who began their studies in autumn 2020 now have until 21 June 2021 to enter the UK (updated from the previous date of 6 April 2021) to be eligible for the route. Students who began their studies in January or February 2021 will need to be in the UK by 27 September 2021. For details of this concession, see "Coronavirus (COVID-19): Student sponsors, migrants and short-term students", pages 15–16
  • undergraduate and master's degree students will be able to apply to stay for two years
  • PhD students will be able to apply to stay for three years
  • you do not need to be sponsored by an employer or by your university, but the degree must be awarded by a Higher Education provider that is listed on the Register of Student Sponsors as a "Student Sponsor - Track Record"
  • it will not be possible to extend this type of immigration permission but it will be possible to switch to another route if you meet the requirements
  • there will not be a requirement to show you have a certain amount of money (known as the 'maintenance requirement')
  • there will be an application fee (likely to be £700 for the Standard service) and you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

We are still waiting for full information on the scheme and will update this page as soon as there are further details.

Travel news update March 2021

Before students think about travelling to the UK, the first step is for a student to talk to their education provider about what date in-person learning will start for their course.

The following information is from England's Department for Education issued on 3 March 2021.

Before arriving, students should:

  • check the latest information about entering the UK
  • note that all inbound UK travel corridors have been temporarily suspended to protect against new international variants of Covid-19
  • all passengers are now required to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival
  • note that certain countries are now on a ‘red list’ – students arriving from these countries may need to quarantine in managed quarantine hotels
  • remember to follow the safer travel guidelines and plan ahead to avoid busy times
  • confirm that their course has resumed in-person teaching and learning
  • speak to their travel insurer.
Students must follow the law on international travel, which means that before they travel they should:
  • take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test and get a negative result 3 days before they travel
  • complete a passenger locator form detailing where they will quarantine upon arrival
  • book and pay for a travel test package, which will include Covid-19 tests to be taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 of quarantine
  • be ready to present proof of study documents on arrival to the UK.

British or Irish nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK, who have been in or passed through a red-list country in the 10 days before their arrival will need to quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel, unless they are exempt.  Third country nationals with residence rights include those with student entry clearance (i.e. Student/Tier 4 visas), those with EUSS leave, and those with biometric residence permits, among others. If an individual does not have residence rights, they cannot travel to the UK if they’ve visited or passed through a ‘red-list country’ in the last 10 days. Even those who have not been in or through a ‘red list’ country will need to quarantine in their own accommodation for 10 days if they are travelling to the UK, unless they ‘test to release’ and receive a negative test result

Travel advice may change while individuals are overseas. Everyone intending to travel to the UK is advised to regularly check all relevant guidance pages for for updates.

Travel news update February 2021

If you decide to travel to the UK, please read the following summary of the latest guidance. Please ensure you also check the UK Government COVID-19 webpages for the latest information which can change on a daily basis.

  • If you have been in or through any of the countries listed on the UK Government ‘red list’ in the last 10 days, you will be refused entry to the UK. The red list is here. British and Irish Nationals, or third country nationals with residence rights in the UK will be able to enter the UK. They must self-isolate for 10 days on arrival along with their household. They cannot use the Test to Release scheme.
  • The UK Government is set to announce that some travellers coming to England will have to quarantine in hotels amid concerns about new Covid variants. However, a timetable for the new measure has still not been confirmed.
  • Travel corridors were suspended 4am, 18 January 2021. If you arrive in England from anywhere outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man you will need to self-isolate for 10 days.
  • From 4am on 15 January 2021, pre-departure testing will be required for all inbound passengers to England until further notice. All international arrivals to England, including UK nationals, are required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure.
  • Passengers will be subject to an immediate fine of £500 if they fail to comply with the new regulations on pre-departure testing.
  • Passengers will still be required to fill in a passenger locator form and be subject to national lockdown restrictions.
If you have any questions about self-isolating please visit our self-isolating and quarantine web page.

Immigration news update December 2020

If you are not sure what type of visa to apply for, look at this UK Government page here: Check if you need a UK visa

EU Settlement Scheme

If you are a current EU student or will be a new EU student, please have a look at this information: Immigration for EU/EEA students. It is essential you seek advice before 31 Dec 2020. You can contact us by contacting us by email:, telephone +44 1752 587704 or you can join an International Student Advice Zoom session Monday to Friday from 09:30–10:30 (UK time) where you can speak with a member of our team face-to-face via Zoom. To join a session and speak to an advisor, please open this Zoom link at the times stated.

New Student visa route:

The Government is introducing a new Student visa which is to form part of the new Points-Based Immigration System. This new Student route will replace the current Tier 4 route. For EEA nationals, the new Student route will take effect for applications made in the UK on or after 1 January 2021.

What’s new?

Definition of a ‘partner’

The definition of a ‘partner’ has been expanded for those permitted to bring dependent partners to the UK. A ‘partner’ now includes a fiancé, or proposed civil partner, which is a new development. The Home Office has confirmed that a two-year period of cohabitation prior to application will also apply to fiancés and proposed civil partners.


If you, your dependent partner, or dependent child have been living in the UK for 12 months or more at the time of your application in the UK, you will satisfy the financial requirements. This means that you will not need to submit any financial evidence with your application. Students applying under the new route from either inside or outside the UK as Student Union Sabbatical Officers or as a doctor or dentist in training on a recognised foundation programme, will also be exempt from meeting the financial requirements.

All other applicants must continue to show evidence of maintenance requirement (living costs) which is now £1,023 a month for study outside London . The maximum amount of money you must have is £1,023 multiplied by nine. Dependants must also evidence £680 per month.


Nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA, join nationals from the UK, EU, EEA and Switzerland who are exempt from obtaining ATAS clearance for postgraduate study in relevant subjects. You can read further information on what ATAS is and the requirements on our webpage.

Application window

Students applying under the new Student route from outside the UK, now have up to 6 months to do so prior to the start of their course rather than 3 months.

Time limits

Time limits for those studying at postgraduate level have been removed. For further details concerning time limits and the requirements, please refer to our webpage.

Low risk applicants

Nationals from the EU, EEA and Switzerland have been added to the list of ‘low risk’ nationals. Students from these countries are not required to submit evidence to show that they meet the financial requirements or provide their academic qualifications used to obtain an offer of study. The Home Office however retain the right to request sight of these documents.

English language

New ways of satisfying the English language requirement have been introduced. This can now be satisfied if:

This requirement was met successfully in a previous application made either outside or inside the UK.
You have obtained either a GCSE, A Level or Scottish equivalent in English language or literature following education at a UK school whilst below the age of 18.
Students who are nationals of Malta will be classed as being from a majority English speaking country. Such students can rely on their nationality, and students of other nationalities can submit academic qualifications taught at an institution in Malta.

Short-term student route from 1 December 2020:

From 1 December 2020, only the following students can apply under the short-term student route:

  • you are aged 16 or older on the date of your immigration application
  • you have an offer of a place to study an English language course that is between six and 11 months long
  • you will not be studying any other subject
  • you must leave the UK within 30 days of the end of your course, or at the end of 11 months, whichever comes first
  • the course provider meets the definition of an 'accredited institution' - check this with them
  • you must apply for entry clearance before you come to the UK
  • you have enough money to be cover your fees, living costs, accommodation and the cost of your return or onward journey - you will have to provide evidence as set out in Appendix Finance
  • you must study only the course for which you are granted permission.

Other students who currently use the short-term student route will be able to enter under the visitor route.

This will affect European Economic Area and Swiss nationals who enter the UK on or after 11 pm on 31 December 2020, if you are not eligible to apply under the EU settlement scheme - Brexit - EU Settlement Scheme.

Full details of all changes are set out in Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC 813.

Study as a visitor from 1 December 2020:

You will be allowed to study in the UK if you apply for a visa or enter the UK as a visitor on or after 9 am on 1 December 2020. This route will replace, for most people, the short-term student route.

You will be able to study for up to six months at an accredited institution (not at a state funded school or academy) - check with a course provider if it meets this definition. You are not limited to studying one course and you are not required to have a place on a course before you arrive.

If you are at least 16 years old and studying a course equivalent to a UK degree in another country, you may:

  • undertake research or be taught about research at a UK institution
  • undertake electives at a UK higher education provider, but only if you are studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, or dentistry as your principle course of study, and the electives are relevant to your course of study abroad, are unpaid and do not involve the treatment of patients.

These types of study are in addition to the current permitted study activities for visitors: taking part in educational exchanges or visits and attending recreational courses that do not lead to a qualification, and do not include English Language training, for a maximum of 30 days.

You will need to prove that you have enough money to cover all reasonable costs of your visit without working or accessing public funds, including the cost of the return or onward journey. You will be able to use someone else's money to prove this if you have personal or professional relationship with them, and they will provide support to you for the duration of your visit.

This will affect European Economic Area and Swiss nationals who enter the UK on or after 11 pm on 31 December 2020, if you are not eligible to apply under the EU settlement scheme - Brexit - EU Settlement Scheme.

The advantage of this change from the short-term student route is that you do not have to see a border force officer on arrival if you are permitted to use automatic ePassport gates - see uk-border-control.

Full details of all changes are set out in Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules HC 813.

Irish Citizens

Under the Common Travel Area (CTA), British and Irish citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction. British and Irish citizens enjoy associated reciprocal rights and privileges, including the right to work, study and vote in certain elections, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services. Once free movement ends on 1 January 2021, Irish citizens’ status will continue to be protected. This will be provided for under section 3ZA of the Immigration Act 1971, which means that they will not require permission to enter or stay in the UK for any reason, including to visit, except for in a limited number of circumstances outlined below.

Working after your studies

There are some key dates for current students who want to work in the UK after their studies. The headlines are:

  • The new Skilled Worker for sponsored skilled work route replaced Tier 2 (General) on 1 December 2020. The changeover from Tier 2 (General) to Skilled Worker includes some changes, mostly beneficial and helpful for students who wish to work after studies. Updated information is here Skilled worker route (formerly Tier 2).
  • 31 December 2020 is the deadline for EEA and Swiss nationals to move to the UK under their right of free movement under EU law. They can secure their ongoing right to work by applying under the Brexit - EU Settlement Scheme by the deadline of 30 June 2021. Those who arrive on or after 1 January 2021 will be subject to immigration control and will need visas for study and work
  • In summer 2021 (actual date yet to be confirmed) the new 2-year Graduate immigration route is due to open. Students who are due to graduate in 2021 and currently distance learning outside the UK due to the pandemic will need to return to the UK for their last semester, deadline 6 April 2021, in order to be eligible under the Graduate route.
  • The current Doctorate Extension Scheme is expected to close and merge with the Graduate route. PhD graduates will get 3 years' permission under the Graduate route, not two years.
  • Separate from visa matters, the Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect all aspects of life in the UK including the economy, employment and recruitment. The most striking impact is on applications under the Skilled worker route (formerly Tier 2) where eligibility depends on securing a job offer.

Immigration Health Surcharge update 27 October 2020 

The UK Government committed to increase the Immigration Health Surcharge to a level that broadly reflects the cost of treating those who pay it. On 27 October 2020, the Immigration Health Surcharge increased.

The Immigration Health Surcharge is paid by people applying to work, study or join family in the UK for a time-limited period of more than six months. It also applies to those who seek to extend their stay. Individuals who pay the charge may access the comprehensive range of NHS services in broadly the same manner as a permanent UK resident. This means they generally only pay charges that a UK resident would also pay, such as prescription charges in England. 

The surcharge for students has risen to £470 for each year of leave granted, prorated. Dependants need to pay the same amount as the main applicant.

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge if they’re applying to come to the UK to work, study or live from January 2021, through the Points-Based Immigration System. 

For further information about the Immigration Health Surcharge, visit

New Student Visa route October 2020

On 5 October 2020, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) introduced a new immigration system that includes a new Student Visa route. The Student Visa is replacing Tier 4 so, over the next few months, we will replace the term "Tier 4" where this is mentioned on our webpages and in documents, and will instead refer to the "Student Visa route".

We do not anticipate that there will be any significant changes in visa requirements for our current Tier 4 students, but we will advise students further once the full immigration rules for the new route are published and in use.

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

  • 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 monitored.
  • Students 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 sit examinations.
  • Existing 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.

  • Students 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.

  • If 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.

  • Those 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.

  • Visa 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.

Police registration

The police registration concession has been rewritten to be made clearer.

Working hours

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

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

Key points:

  • 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.
If you are making a decision now about your study in the UK, you need to be aware that we will not have reliable information about the Graduate route, including its existence, until the Immigration Rules are published. The Home Office has said that this will not happen before April 2021, and possibly later, because its current focus is on designing and implementing a whole new immigration system to come into force by January 2021.

Brexit and the EU Settlement Scheme

The 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.

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 6 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 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 the University of Plymouth.
  • 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, the University of Plymouth 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.