The Student visa or Tier 4 scheme has many changes that will be introduced over the next 12 months.
All aspects of the Tier 4 points-based system will be changing such as; English Language requirements, greater restrictions for sponsors, work entitlements and leading on from that the eventual withdrawal Tier 1 (post-study work).
The initial changes from 21 April 2011 are as follows;
- All new sponsors will have to meet the new educational accreditation criteria in order to be issued a Tier 4 licence.
- There will be an interim limit for existing sponsors that restrict how many students they can sponsor. This does not apply to sponsors that hold highly trusted sponsor status and meet the new accreditation criteria.
- Existing sponsors will be required to apply to the relevant inspection body if they do not already meet the new accreditation criteria.
- There will be tighter English language requirements for Tier 4 (General) students.
Changes from July 2011;
- All Sponsors from this date have will to vouch for academic progression for students changing course, where the new course is not a step up the NQF/ QCF / SCQF scale.
- Individual Students will have to declare at the visa application stage that they hold and will continue to hold the required maintenance funds to support themselves and pay for their course.
- Students that are classed as Low-risk nationalities attending courses at Highly Trusted Sponsors will not always have to present the specified documents at the visa application stage in respect of their maintenance funds or educational qualifications, although we reserve the right to ask to see the evidence.
- Only students at higher education institutions and publicly funded further education colleges will have permission to work, retaining their current entitlements.
- New students studying at a higher education institution on a course on NQF 7 / QCF 7 / SQCF 11 or above lasting 12 months or more to will be allowed to sponsor their dependants. The sponsor’s dependants will be able to work.
Changes from April 2012;
- All sponsors must have reached Highly Trusted Sponsor Status.
- The interim limit will be extended for those existing sponsors who have acquired Highly Trusted Sponsors status but not met the new educational accreditation requirements.
- Any Courses offering work placements for students will have to have a study:work ratio of 66:33 except at higher education institutions.
- There will be a maximum time of five years in Tier 4 studying at degree level and above, with exceptions for some courses and PhD students.
- Tier 1 (post-study work) visa will be closed. Migrants on Tier 4 (General) will be allowed to switch to Tier 2 (General) if they meet the required criteria.
Provisions will be made for Student Entrepreneurs.