UK Student Visa Changes: What You Need to Know About the New Tier 4 Policy

On the 16th of March 2017, the UK’s Home Office announced changes to 269 pages of the country’s immigration rules. Within the vast amount of published alterations stood some important changes for independent school sponsors. To save you the trouble of sieving through each page, we’ve put together some of the main changes that you’ll need to be aware of.

Sponsored Siblings

An irregularity in the UK’s immigration regulations has meant that up until now day students who are 12+ have been unable to live with their parent who resides in Britain on a parent of a tier 4 child visa looking after a younger sibling. As a result of this, schools have either had to insist that the older sibling relocates to a boarding school or alternatively seek residential care arrangements involving other UK nationals. The recent change – as of April 6th, 2017 – now means that new applicants can apply for their UK visa on the grounds that they will live with a parent.

New Interviews for Over 16s

For those applying for a tier 4 visa, each candidate that are 16+ will now be required to prove to the Secretary of State that they are an actual student. Now the applicant must undergo an interview – either in person or on the telephone – to prove their status. If in the eventuality that the Home Office don’t deem the person’s case as a genuine application or if they fail to speak English to the required level, the student application will be rejected. Any person that fails to go to their interview with a genuine or understandable reason as to why will also receive a refusal. Again, as of the 6th of April, the interview process will be extended so that it also applies to Tier 4 child applications from people aged 16+.

Parental Relationship Proof

 For those under 18 who are claiming for a tier 4, they must now provide confirmation from a parent or guardian that offer consent towards the arrangement for the child’s travel care within the country. From the 6th April applicants will now need to give evidence of their relationship with the person who is providing them with consent. This is mean that originals or notarised copies of one of the following are required:

  • Birth certificate showing the names of the applicant’s parent(s)
  • If applicable, the certificate of adoption showing the names of the applicant’s parent(s) or legal guardian
  • If applicable, an official and legal court document which names the applicant’s legal guardian

What You’ll Need to Do

Whilst the sibling rule changed is welcomed around the world, the new addition of interviews to screen applicants will require schools to analyse and rethink how they can best help their pupils prepared for the interview. UKVI continuously post new and up to date information about what applicants need to consider as well as guidance for the new interviews. Schools with interested applicants should now look to improve how they can ready their students with questions regarding:

  • The immigration history of the applicant (in the UK and other countries if applicable).
  • Their education history, study and post-study plans – in particular, the applicant’s knowledge of the proposed course of study, place of learning and their living arrangements in the UK.
  • Their overall personal and financial circumstances.
  • Their qualification, course provider and agents.

As immigration changes can always unsettle applicants, it is always best to seek specialist help from immigration lawyers to ensure your pupil’s applications are as strong as they can be. Working with these reputable firms as well as preparing them for these tests in advance, will give them the best possible chance of international study in the UK.

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