Read about the latest immigration changes and news which may affect you.
Students Targeted by Visa Fraudsters
The Home Office has made us aware that students have been targeted by criminals posing as Home Office staff. Most commonly they will email or telephone students and tell you there is a problem with your visa and claim that you owe them money to resolve the problem. Sometimes they will threaten you with deportation or cancellation of your visa if you do not do this.
They have produced a useful guide to advise students how to avoid falling victim to these scams.
You should remember the following:
- If you receive an email from the Home Office and are not sure if it is genuine, check with an International Adviser as we can check this with the Home Office.
- The Home Office would never ask you to pay visa fees or fines using iTunes, cryptocurrency, paypal, Western Union or other money transfer services. Where you are asked to pay a fee (for example, if you need to top up your Health Surcharge payment) you would usually do this online by credit/debit card
- Home Office staff would never pressure you into making a payment immediately over the phone. Payment requests would be sent in writing, usually with a deadline of when the payment must be received.
- If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should call the Action Fraud line on 03001232040.
Changes to Leave to Remain Application Process
From November, the process for applying for a visa extension in the UK will change. Students and others will now be able to scan in documents as part of the application process rather than providing them by mail, meaning you will be able to retain your original documents. Applicants will then need to make an appointment at one of the 6 service centres in the UK (the nearest to London is in Croydon) to enroll biometrics and confirm identity, or pay an additional £55 fee to use an "enhanced service point" - the nearest to City will be a short walk away, at Barbican. UKCISA has provided more guidance on these changes.
Changes to the Immigration Rules - July 2018
UKVI has made some fairly significant and largely positive changes to the immigration rules which will come into effect on 6th July 2018. Any applications made before this will be subject to the old rules. In particular, UKVI is adding additional countries to the "low risk nationals" list - from 6th July nationals of Bahrain, Cambodia, China, The Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kuwait, The Maldives, Mexico, Serbia, Thailand and Macau (SAR) will qualify for "differentiation" arrangements. From 6th July applicants from the countries in Appendix H of the Immigration Rules will still qualify as "low risk national" even if their country of residence where they are applying is not the same as their country of nationality. Oman has been taken off this list so Omani nationals will now need to provide full documentation.
Another major change involves clearance from the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) From 6 July 2018, there will be a requirement for those studying courses with a relevant JACS codes to obtain ATAS clearance regardless of the length of course. This means that Tier 4 (General) applicants applying from 6 July 2018 will need to obtain this clearance prior to making the Tier 4 application (either as entry clearance or leave to remain). ATAS clearance will also be required for those coming to the UK under the short-term student route in order to study relevant courses for up to six months. This will affect those on relevant courses who come to the UK using this route to undertake a course, research or research tuition, an elective, a viva, a re-sit exam, a re-take module or part of a course under the distance-learning provision.
Finally, another positive change means that students on postgraduate courses of more than 9 months in length will now be eligible to bring dependants to the UK with them (previously you had to be on a course lasting more than 12 months.)
Visa application fees increase
Visa application fees were increased today across the majority for visa routes. Details of the new fees can be found here. New fees for Tier 4 and Graduate Entrepreneur categories are now as follows:
- Tier 4 entry clearance (applications made outside the UK): £348
- Standard in-country: £475
- Tier 4 Priority: £952
- Tier 4 Premium (in person): £1085
- Graduate Entrepreneur: £493
Changes to the Immigration Rules - January 2018
Change to the immigration rules came into effect on 11th January, with some good news for placement and Study Abroad students! For the last two years students who needed to extend their visas because they had added a placement or Study Abroad year were required to return home to make the application, because they had not “completed” their previous course and as such were not seen to be meeting the academic progression requirements. Under the amended rules, students are exempt from the normal academic progression requirements if they are extending their visa because they are adding, or have already undertaken, a placement or Study Abroad year. As such, it is now possible to apply for a visa extension from the UK if you need more time because you are adding a placement/Study Abroad year.
Students whose current visas were issued prior to 6 April 2016 can apply for their visa extension any time before their current leave expires; students whose visa was issued on or after 6 April 2016 must apply before their placement year – this is because, after this date, you can only change course after you have made a valid visa application, and you will technically be on a different course if you are changing from a 3-year course to a 4-year course with a placement or Study Abroad year.
If you would rather apply for your new visa from your home country, for example because you are there during the vacation period, you can still choose to do so. You will need to request a CAS to extend your visa. Before we issue the CAS we will need to check that you have sufficient funds to meet the visa requirements, and that your placement/Study Abroad year has been confirmed. To request a CAS please email a copy of the financial evidence you intend to use, along with your student number, to firstname.lastname@example.org You can find more guidance on the requirements at https://www.city.ac.uk/international/visa-immigration-advice/tier4
Tier 4 students will now be able to switch into Tier 2 (provided they hold a job offer with a registered sponsor and meet all the requirements) once they have completed their course, even if they are still awaiting their results.
The rules also changed for Short Term Study visa holders - they are now obliged to leave the UK within 30 days of their period of study being completed, or before their visa end date, whichever is earliest.
There are some other minor changes which UKCISA summarised on their website.
EEA students and comprehensive sickness insurance
The government has recently clarified that EEA national students and their family members living in the UK must have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance. This means that you must either have a European Health Insurance Card (obtained from your home country) if you are here temporarily, or comprehensive private medical insurance. Further guidance can be found on UKCISA website.
Overstaying: end of the 28 day grace period
The 28 day grace period allowing those who overstay their immigration permission to have their applications considered has been abolished for applications made on or after 24 November 2016.
Robert Goodwill, the Minister of State for Immigration made a statement accompanying the new rules on 3rd November 2016 to both Houses of Parliament. He explained that:
We are also abolishing the ’28-day grace period’, during which we currently accept out of time applications for a range of routes including work and study, to encourage greater compliance with the Immigration Rules. This will make clear that people must comply with the Rules and make any application for further leave before their current leave expires.
It has been replaced by a more restrictive rule allowing an application to be made ONLY within 14 days of the expiry of their immigration permission BUT only where the Home Office accepts that the applicant has shown a “good reason” beyond the applicant’s control for the making of a late application.
The consequences of overstaying can be very serious including that you
- are unlikely to be issued with a new CAS
- are committing a criminal offence by remaining;
- cannot lawfully work and rent accommodation; and
- become subject to an exclusion from the UK if the total period of overstay exceeds 90 days.