Important Tier 4 UK Student Visa Changes


On July 13th 2015, the UK Government announced a number of changes to the Immigration Rules, much of which are related to Tier 4 UK Student Visa route of the Points-Based System.

The government says the intended changes are aimed to ensure that the UK maintains its’ competitive edge in attracting the brightest and best international students, whilst reducing immigration abuse. The upcoming changes by the UK Government are a strong approach to cut down on the number of international students entering the UK for further education.

The changes are being implemented in two parts, with the first set of changes being implemented in August 2015 and the second set expected to come into effect from November 2015.

The Tier 4 UK Student Visa route of the Points-Based System changes will significantly impact UK Universities. Higher Education Establishments should consider acting now to address the upcoming cutbacks by reassuring current and prospective students their institution is still the place to be!

Maintenance Requirements

All Tier 4 students are required to demonstrate that they hold adequate funds to pay their course fees as well as support themselves whilst they are studying in the UK.

The maintenance requirement for Tier 4 (General) students to cover living costs is set at the same level as the combined maximum maintenance loan and grant that is available to English students who are living away from home. The Immigration Rules are being updated to reflect this new rate change for students starting courses from September 2015.

The provision ‘established presence’ is being removed, instead the Immigration Rules will require all students to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves throughout the course of their study, or for up to nine months, whichever is shorter.

The location of where Tier 4 students have to show a higher level of funds is being expanded to include the University of London wholly or partly within the City of London and the Former Metropolitan Police District.

The maintenance requirement for Tier 4 dependants is also being increased to become in line with the increases affecting main applicants.

Foreign Students Right to Work

All new international students at publicly funded colleges will no longer be allowed to work in the UK.

The change will bring the Rules into line with international students that are currently studying at private colleges. The Rule change is being introduced as a result of what the government says is a pattern of non-compliance in the student migration system among publicly funded college students.

The government believes the change will remove the level of abuse by college students that intend to work rather than study whilst on a Tier 4 Student visa.

Embedded Colleges

A ban on college students from extending their Tier 4 visas in the UK, unless they are currently studying at an Embedded College offering pathway programmes designed to prepare students for entry to a higher education course. An Embedded College is a college that has a formal direct link to a university that is recognised by the Home Office.

Tier 4 student visa holders that are not studying at a UK Embedded College and wish to study another course will be required to leave the UK and apply for a new visa from outside of the UK.
This change is intended to encourage Non-Embedded College students to leave the UK following the completion of their course which should in time lead to a decrease in the UK’s net migration rate.

Those students currently at Non-Embedded Colleges who wish to study at a UK university will be required to leave the UK at the end of their course and apply from outside the UK.

Time Restrictions

A Tier 4 UK Student Visa holder’s time limit for studying at further education level will be reduced from 3 years to 2 years. The intended change will bring the maximum period into line with the current length of time British students commonly spend in further education.

Academic Progression

Students who wish to extend their Tier 4 (General) visa must prove that they are moving up the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) levels, unless their course of study is related to their previous Tier 4 study, or if the new course and the previous course of study are in combination to support an applicant’s genuine career aspirations.

The Home Office will permit applicants applying to complete a PhD or other doctoral qualification at the same level of study.

Extending or Changing Tier 4 (General) Visa

Students holding a Tier 4 (General) visa are being prevented from extending their stay under the Tier 4 category or from switching into any other points-based category, unless they are studying at an Embedded College recognised by the Home Office for offering pathway programmes designed to prepare students for entry to a higher education.

Students at Non-Embedded Colleges that wish to go on to study in a UK university will be required to apply for leave to enter from outside the UK.

Tier 4 Dependants Rights

Tier 4 Dependants will no longer be allowed to undertake low or unskilled jobs, instead they will only be permitted to take on part-time or full-time skilled work.

How Can We Help?

We at DavidsonMorris understand the need to remain up to date with the ever changing Immigration Rules.

If you are an International Student who intends to study in the UK and require assistance we would be happy to assist.

Alternatively, if you are an education provider in need of immigration training to update staff on the recent Immigration Rule change we are also able to assist.

We can be contacted on either platform: +44 (0) 20 7494 0118 or at For updates, follow us on Twitter @DavidsonMorris.


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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