This year has seen a significant reduction in the numbers of international students coming to the UK, due to the challenges posed by COVID-19. The pandemic has not curtailed the Government’s commitment to the launch of the new immigration system, in January 2021, and in advance of the new system, it has been announced that a new Student route will be introduced in October 2020.
The new routes for international students will open at 09:00 am on 05 October 2020. Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes will close at 08:59 am on the same date.
What is changing for student routes?
Student and Child Student routes will replace the Tier 4 routes and will be for both EEA and non-EEA nationals who wish to come to the UK to study.
Students will require a total of 70 points to be granted leave to enter or remain (as opposed to the current 40 points), and these points will be awarded for a combination of an offer from an approved educational establishment, can speak English, and have sufficient funds to support themselves during the course of their studies.
The main changes are:
- Students or applicants need only to prove the required level of English language to the Home Office once; and
- An update to the majority speaking English language country list, to include Malta and Ireland; and
- Students who have gained GCSE/A-level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK will be able to rely on this to prove their English language ability; and
- Applicants who met the maintenance requirement under their current route will no longer have to demonstrate they meet it again if they have been supporting themselves in the UK for more than a year; and
- Students may rely on electronic bank statements; and
- Students can demonstrate they meet the maintenance requirements relying on wider sources of funding and accounts; and
- The eight year time limit on studying courses at postgraduate level will be abolished; and
- Students will be able to apply for permission to remain from within the UK, provided that the new course starts within 28 days of current leave expiring and they meet the academic progression requirements; and
- There will be increased switching opportunities within the study route and between routes within the Points Based System; and
- Students studying at an institution with a track record of compliance will no longer be routinely required to provide evidence of the academic qualifications relied upon to obtain the offer of a place.
The new rules will not apply to EEA nationals until the end of the transitional period on 31 December 2020 since they will continue to have the Freedom of Movement until that date.
The current differentiation regulations that apply to nationals of countries listed under the current Appendix H allowing those nationals to submit reduced documentary evidence, will be amended to include all EEA countries and Switzerland.
Appendix 15 of the Immigration Rules will be deleted and replaced with a new Appendix ATAS which will set out requirements and conditions for the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS). EEA and Swiss nationals, and nationals of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and South Korea will be exempted from having to apply for an ATAS certificate in order to study certain sensitive subjects in the UK.
All Student and Child Student applications, including Dependant of a Student applications, which are made at or after 0900 on 5 October 2020 will be decided in accordance with the new Student rules, even where they are accompanied by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies which was issued under the Tier 4 rules and policy in place before 0900 on 5 October.
The introduction of the new rules aims to simplify requirements across all routes in the future, with a particular focus on simplifying English language and maintenance requirements.
These changes will support the launch of the new Graduate route, to be introduced in summer 2021, which will allow those who have completed a degree at a UK Higher Education provider with a track record of compliance to stay in the UK for two years (three years for PhD graduates) and work at any skill level, and to switch into work routes if they find a suitable job.
We anticipate a high level of interest in this route as global borders re-open post-covid. If you would like more information on the new Student route please contact Sally McEwen at [email protected]
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