Immigration news

The International Compliance and Advice team keep this section up to date with the latest relevant immigration news.

If you have any concerns or questions about the news and how it might affect you, please contact us

Update: Brexit

We are closely monitoring the negotiations and post below where we have updates for students:

The EU referendum outcome and the triggering of Article 50 will not lead to any immediate change to the immigration status of current EU students and the right to access free movement.

It has also been confirmed in separate statements from across all UK nations (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) that current university students from the EU and those applying to courses starting in 2017–18 will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status.

The longer-term implications for EU students who want to apply to study in the UK after the UK has left the EU will depend on the outcome of the negotiations and what kind of future relationship is agreed between the UK and the EU.

Health insurance for EEA students whilst in the UK - Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI)

In order to have a right of residence in the UK as a student, you have to have comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI).

For students and other temporary visitors the European health insurance card (EHIC) obtained from your country of residence is acceptable evidence of CSI. If your stay is to be permanent, or you are unable to get an EHIC card from your country of residence, you will need to obtain separate insurance.

Home Office guidance contains detailed information (on pages 30-38) on what the UK government considers acceptable evidence of CSI.

UKCISA have detailed and up-to-date information regarding Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.

Immigration rule changes - 11 January 2018

This section includes updates to Tier 4 rules and conditions, amendments to the Short Term Study Visit route, and post study work routes.

Changes to Tier 4:

  • There is now an option for students to study part time in the UK with a Tier 4 visa, if the course leads to a qualification at postgraduate level and above. There are however the following restrictions: 
    • No work permitted. This includes work placements. 
    • Students cannot apply to extend their Tier 4 leave. 
    • Not permitted to bring dependents. 
  • Students who need to extend their Tier 4 visa due to adding an assessed work placement or study placement to their undergraduate course, can now choose to make their visa application from within the UK, rather than being required to apply from overseas.

Changes to short term study:

  • Short term students who apply for their visa on or after the 11th January 2018, must intend to leave the UK either:
    • Within 30 days after the end of their study OR
    • Before the end of their visa expiry date, whichever is sooner.
  • If you applied for your Short-term study visa before the 11th January then you must intend to leave the UK at the end of your study or before the end of the 6 months, whichever is sooner.
  • If you are studying a distance learning course, the number of days you can study in the UK with a short term study visa within a 6 month period is limited to 56 days.
  • This route cannot be used to study extensively in the UK through successive use of the route or frequent use of the route.

Changes to post study work options:

  • Tier 4 students will be able to apply for the Tier 2 leave to remain before they obtain their results by providing evidence of having completed (rather than passed) their course leading to a bachelor’s or master’s degree or a PGCE or PGDE. Evidence can be submitted stating the date the course was completed, having sat all exams and presented all academic papers.

Update: telephone scams and fraud against international students

Rarely, international students are targeted by con-artists. If you have a visa in the UK, these are the most recent updates on these scams from the sector.

We've been getting reports of scam telephone calls being made to international students in the UK. The latest scam that we have been made aware of seems to affect mainly Indian students but all students should be aware of any scam where a person phones claiming to be from the Home Office and then asks for money.

The Home Office have also been made aware of the following scam which targets Tier 4 students whereby the student receives a telephone call from an individual who fraudulently purports to represent the Home Office.

The caller instructs the student to verify their telephone number 020 7035 4848 on the website, search for Home Office, and then scroll down to the bottom of the screen so that they can verify that the caller is calling from the genuine Home Office number. The caller ID on the student’s mobile does show this number.

The caller is in possession of the students full name, postcode in the UK and passport number, and asks the student to confirm those details are correct. 

They then proceed to tell the student they have not paid for an immigration service and, as a result, have to pay a fine (usually £1,200 - £1,520) or they will be reported to the Police/the Home Office who will detain or deport them.

Students who have been targeted have reported that the fraudsters become increasingly insistent and verbally aggressive resulting in them feeling coerced into making payment.

Please bear in mind: 

  • The caller may appear to be genuine and convincing, because they have some limited information about you (for example, your passport number, as well as your telephone number and name).
  • They may give you their name and telephone number to convince you they are genuine - the latest scam provides a number that is an official Home Office number, but this is part of the fraud;
  • They may say that there is a serious problem with your immigration status, and that you need to pay a fine, or send a payment.
  • The payment is, most commonly, demanded to be made via Western Union as soon as possible, supposedly to prevent further action or investigation by the UK Home Office.
  • The caller will speak in dramatic terms, perhaps talking about deportation or cancelling your visa. This is a common fraudster's technique, to make you panic and become pressurised into paying the fake fine.

How to respond

If you receive such a call (or a similar contact by any other means, for example email or text) we advise as follows:

  • Do not give the caller/sender any personal information, and do not confirm that any information they have is correct.
  • Do not make any payment. The Home Office does not issue financial penalties.
  • You may wish to tell the caller/sender that you know about the fraudulent contact they are making, and that you will be reporting it to the police and the Home Office. Or you may simply wish to hang up.
  • Report the incident to International Student Advice. You can also report it to the police if you wish or online to Action Fraud.
  • You can find further information on the government web pages.

Immigration update: statement of changes HC667 - 30 November 2017

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.

Summary of the 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.
  • Overstayers - remaining in the UK after your current visa has expired
    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).
  • Evidence submitted with a visa application
    If the person assessing your documents requests additional documentation, you will be notified only once and you will have 10 working days to submit this information. If you fail to provide all relevant documents in a series of evidence, the documents at the beginning and end of this series must have been submitted. For example, if you were submitting 5 pages of a bank statement as evidence of your finances, and page 3 was missing, you would need to have sent page 1 and 5 of that particular bank statement to be deemed as satisfactory.

Update: delays in Tier 4 processing times

Bear in mind when thinking of submitting in-country immigration applications that processing times can vary greatly. Any updates will be posted below: 

In November 2017, the Home Office advised that applications submitted to UKVI's in-country casework teams are experiencing some delays at the dispatch stage. Applicants may therefore experience a short delay in receiving their decision letter and having documents returned.

Decision letters and documents are currently being dispatched around 5 working days after the decision has been made. The service standard is eight weeks for in country postal applications.

Immigration rule changes - 6 April 2017

Includes an update for students on a Tier 4 visa who are looking to change their route of study.

Students who wish to change their programme of study must now return home to apply for a new visa. If you have changed your course prior to 6 April, and subsequently you are required to extend your visa to complete your course, this rule still applies to you and you will therefore have to return home at a suitable point in your studies to extend your visa. You will need to do this before your current visa expires.

For further details on all changes, please sign up to the UKCISA newsletter and check out their News Wall.

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