US

Oct 06 2020

New Student Visa Routes Introduced

United Kingdom
  • The Home Office introduced the Student and Child Student route of the points-based system, which has replaced the previous Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes.
  • This route will apply to all visa applicants, including European Economic Area/Swiss nationals who wish to study in the United Kingdom from January 1, 2021 and have not started living in the United Kingdom by December 31, 2020.
  • The new Student and Child Student route improves on the previous Tier 4 route by streamlining and simplifying the applicable requirements.
  • The Home Office also released further details on the requirements of the Student and Child Student route, as well as Student Sponsor Guidance, detailing how to apply for a sponsor licence and how to sponsor a student.

The situation

On October 5, 2020, the Home Office introduced the Student and Child Student route of the points-based system, which has replaced the previous Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes.

A closer look

  • Eligibility. This route is open to all visa applicants, including European Economic Area(EEA)/Swiss nationals who wish to study in the United Kingdom from January 1, 2021 and have not started living in the United Kingdom by December 31, 2020.
  • Guidance documents released. The Home Office released guidance in the form of Appendix ST: Student and Appendix CS: Child Student of the Immigration Rules to provide further detail on the requirements of the Student and Child Student route. Student Sponsor Guidance has also been released, which details how to apply for a sponsor licence and how to sponsor a student.
  • Highlights of changes. Below are the key differences the Student and Child Student route has brought.

 

Change Impact

Immigration documentation EEA nationals

  • We understand that EEA nationals applying under the Student or Child Student routes may be given digital status, which will confirm the validity of the student’s permission without a biometric residence permit.
  • UK Visas and Immigration is expected to release further details soon.

Student switching rules extended

A student can switch to a Student or Child Student visa from within the United Kingdom unless they were last granted permission:

Students applying for a visa from outside the United Kingdom have longer to make their visa application

  • Students can apply for entry clearance from outside the United Kingdom up to six months before the course start date listed on their Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
  • Upon issuance, the student will still receive a visa valid one month before the course start date.

Electronic bank documentation 

Electronic bank documentation does not need to be stamped or accompanied by a supporting letter.

Exemptions to the Financial requirement

  • If a student is applying for permission to stay and has been living in the United Kingdom with permission for 12 months or more on the date of application, they will automatically meet the financial requirement and will not need to submit bank documentation.
  • If a student is applying for permission as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer or to study on a recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist in training, they will automatically meet the financial requirement and will not need to submit bank documentation.

Exemptions to the English Language requirement

  • Students who demonstrated that they had the required level of English language ability in a previous successful application for entry clearance or permission are exempt from the English Language requirement.
  • Students who have a GCSE, A’ level, Scottish National Qualification at level 4 or 5 or Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher, in English (language or literature), that was awarded by a regulated awarding body or following education in a UK school undertaken while they were aged under 18 are exempt from the English language requirement.

Majority English Speaking Countries extended

Ireland and Malta have been added.

Academic documentation requirement

If a student is applying for a course of study at degree level or above and is sponsored by a higher education provider (HEP) with a track record of compliance, they are not required to provide academic documentation to support their visa application.

English Language assessment for Higher Education Providers (HEP)

A HEP with a track record of compliance can make an assessment on a student’s B2 level English ability without using an English language test, but they must note on the CAS what method has been used to assess the student’s English Language ability.

The HEP is also required to confirm that the student is at B2 level, or above, in all four of the English language components.

Academic engagement policy for Higher Education Providers (HEP)

HEP’s must monitor and review students’ academic engagement according to the requirements set out in the Student Sponsor Guidance.

Please contact your Fragomen immigration professional for further details in relation to the academic engagement policy and exceptions.

 

Impact

A UK student visa application submitted from October 5, 2020 will need to meet the Student or Child Student visa requirements.

EEA and Swiss nationals arriving in the United Kingdom to study from January 1, 2021 (after free movement ends) will need to meet the new rules. Irish citizens will be able to continue to live and study in the United Kingdom without requiring a visa.

The new Student and Child Student route improves on the previous Tier 4 route by streamlining and simplifying the requirements.

Looking ahead

The simplification of the Student visa requirements is welcome news and moves the country toward demonstrating the UK government’s approach of creating a global visa system that applies equally to all. However, the inclusion of EEA/Swiss nationals within the Student visa route will require thorough communication to all parties to ensure successful applications, and to keep a sponsor licence secure.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].