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Changes to Student Visas

9 September 2011

The Tier 4 Student Visa Rules changed on 21 April 2011. These changes may affect you if you need to extend your student visa or your Tier 4 visa to complete your course, or if you are changing courses or starting a new course either at this University or another University.

The rules for appealing against a visa refusal also changed on 23 May 2011 and more changes to the visa rules are coming in from July 2011 and in April 2012. It is important to plan ahead if you are going to need a new student visa. You need to be ready to make your new visa application at least two to three months before your current visa expires.

It is especially important that you check how much money you need to show in your bank account to make your visa application. Remember that all the money needs to have been in your account for 28 days before you apply.

You must apply for your next visa before your existing student visa runs out. If you don’t, you will need to show the full 9 months money for your maintenance, plus the money for any fees you need to pay.   Also, if you haven’t yet completed six months of your course, or if you have changed courses within the last six months, you may also need to show the full 9 months’ money  even if you are part way through the course.  If you are changing the type of visa, e.g. from a Tier 1 Post Study Work visa  to a Tier 4 visa, you always need to show the full 9 months’ money.

Always have your visa application checked by Student Advice before sending it. Changes to the appeal rules now mean that it’s more important than ever that you get it right first time. If your visa application is rejected or refused, you must contact Student Advice immediately. Do not send in a new application or appeal without getting advice first.

Changes in the future

Full details have not been announced yet but we expect these changes:

From July 2011

  • You will need to show that you are progressing to a higher level with your new course. There will be restrictions on studying a new course which is at the same level as your last course.
  • If you are a national of a ‘low risk’ country*, you may not need to send in your financial documents or qualifications if you apply for a visa in your home country. But you must have these documents and must be able to produce them if asked. If you are applying in the UK we expect that you will still need to show these documents.
  • You will need to sign a declaration confirming that money for your maintenance will be available throughout your studies. This will then be a condition of your visa.
  • You will not be able to bring dependants with you unless you are studying for a Masters level course which lasts at least 12 months. (It is likely that this will not affect students already studying on a Tier 4 visa, but the UKBA has not confirmed this)

From April 2012

  • There will be a limit of 5 years’ total study on courses at Bachelors and Masters level
  • There will be some exceptions for professional courses and PhD courses.
  • We do not know whether this restriction will apply to students already in the UK or just to new students

To find out more about the changes, the money you need to show, how to apply for your Tier 4 visa, and how to contact Student Advice please visit Westminster.ac.uk/visas

Post Study Work visas will continue to be available until April 2012. If you are graduating after April 2012, you will be able to apply to stay and work in the UK as a Tier 2 General worker. The rules are not out yet, but we understand that the proposal is as follows:

To qualify for Tier 2, you will need to have been offered a graduate level job with an employer who holds a Tier 2 sponsor licence. The job must normally have a salary of at least £20k. As long as you are still in the UK when you apply to switch to Tier 2 and your student visa has not expired, your employer will not need to show that the job has passed the ‘resident labour market test’ and the job will not be part of the annual limit (or cap) on the number of Tier 2 visas that can be issued. This means that your employer will not need to show that the vacancy has been advertised in the UK and Europe and that they have not managed to recruit someone who has the right to work in the UK.

Student Entrepreneur

The UKBA is proposing to bring in a new category of visa which will not be tied to one employer. This route will be for bright and innovative students who have a business idea which can be developed in the UK. There are no details yet about how this scheme will operate.

You can read more about the proposals here:

www.ukcisa.org.uk/student/working_after.php#t1psw_future

For information on how to apply for a Post Study Work visa, please visit our webpage.

*Low Risk’ countries: Argentina, Australia, British National Overseas, Brunei, Canda, Chile, Croatia, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, USA.

Student Advice
University of Westminster
101 New Cavendish Street
London W1W 6XH

T: 020 7911 5000 ext 66080
E: studentadvice@westminster.ac.uk
W: westminster.ac.uk/advice


About the University of Westminster:

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We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 175-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

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