Legislation was laid in Parliament on 7 December 2017, which sets out a number of changes to the immigration rules. These will come into effect from 28 December 2017, with the majority of the changes taking effect on 11 January 2018.
There are a number of changes being made to the Short-Term Study (STS) route. These will affect anyone wishing to come to the UK to study a short course of up to six months, or an English language course of up to 11 months. These changes include the following:
· A definition of ‘a course’ within STS is being provided to give clarity that more than one programme of study can be undertaken on the STS route as long as the courses are completed within the validity of the visa period;
· Students studying under the STS route will now be allowed to remain in the UK for up to 30 days at the end of their study. This will provide greater clarity and bring the route in line with other short-term visas;
· The minimum age requirement within STS is being reduced from 18 to 16, to allow those aged 16 and over to apply for the longer English courses. This will also ensure the genuine student rule is applied consistently across the student visa categories; and
· STS students are not entitled to take part in any type of work, whether paid or unpaid. An amendment is being made to allow students to complete electives when they are studying towards a medical, dentistry or veterinary degree at an overseas Higher Education Institution through the STS route. Those studying electives will continue to be unable to undertake any other type of work.
Part-time study at post-graduate level will be allowed under Tier 4. However, Tier 4 students studying part-time courses will not have work rights, cannot bring dependants and are not able to extend their stay.
The maintenance requirements for Tier 4 (General) students who are applying to study at a residential Independent School are being aligned with the Tier 4 (Child) requirements. The additional funds for living costs no longer need to be evidenced, as these will have already been accounted for in the boarding fees paid by the student which include both course and lodging fees.
Work rights for dependants
An amendment is being made to allow work rights for dependants of Tier 4 students to be retained. This will apply if the Tier 4 applicant is applying to continue to study the same course at degree level or above.
An exemption has been made to the rules on academic progression to allow students to apply for leave to remain from within the UK. This will allow students to:
· complete a work placement or a study abroad programme; or
· complete their course after having completed a work placement or study abroad programme.
Home office will continue to improve and modernise the UK’s border and immigration system, which will now include moves toward further digitisation.
These changes are required to facilitate the move toward introducing immigration permissions issued in electronic rather than paper form.
This will also allow trials to be undertaken that will test the operation of any new system.
Skilled work visas
Home office is making changes to the immigration rules to enhance the UK’s offer for internationally recognised overseas leaders in science, research, digital technology and the arts. This will allow those under the T1 (Exceptional Talent) route to apply for settlement after three years. Home office is also doubling the number of Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) places to 2,000 visas per year.
In addition, home office is also making changes to the Tier 2 skilled worker route. This will allow for faster switching for Tier 4 students below PhD level. By relaxing the labour market test under Tier 2, it will also make it easier to employ international researchers and members of established research teams.
All other Immigration Rules changes are minor and technical in nature. For details, visit www.gov.uk
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