Read about the latest immigration changes and news which may affect you.
Home Office's latest update on graduate route - 1 July 2020
The government announced on 1st July2002, as part of the new graduate route, international students who complete a PhD from Summer 2021 can stay in the UK for 3 years after study to live and work. Please see the details of the announcement.
Home Office's update on graduate route - 16 June 2020
- The Graduate route is still scheduled to be launched in summer 2021, as previously announced. Further information about the route will be published in due course.
- Students will normally be expected to undertake their studies in the UK to be eligible for the Graduate route. However, if students are required to either continue their current studies or commence a new course by distance or blended learning due to Covid-19, they will still be eligible to switch into the Graduate route on a concessionary basis if they spent some time studying outside the UK.
- Students will benefit from this concession if they enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK.
- Such students will still need to have extant leave as a Tier 4 student or Student when the new route launches in 2021 and meet other eligibility criteria to be eligible for the route.
Immigration guidance - updated on 26 May 2020
The Home Office has now released updated immigration guidance for visa holders offering extensions until 31 July 2020 for visas that expire between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020.
Your visa will be extended to 31 July 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
You must request an extension by updating your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) if your visa is expiring and you cannot leave the UK at present but are not planning to stay in the UK in the long term.
If you have already had your visa extended to 31 May 2020 you visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020.
You will be expected to return to your home country as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
Please read the immigration guidance carefully and take action if needed.
New UK points-based Immigration system
On 19th February 2020, the Government has published information on the UK’s new points-based immigration system.
According to the UK Visas & Immigration, from 1 January 2021, free movement will end and be replaced with the UK’s new points-based immigration system to cater for the most highly skilled workers, students and a range of other specialist work routes including for global leaders and innovators. All migrants looking to enter the UK to work or study will need to apply for permission in advance.
Students and specialist occupations
Students will be covered by the points-based system. They will achieve the required points if they can demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, speak English and are able to support themselves during their studies in the UK.
Under the current immigration rules, there are a range of other immigration routes for specialist occupations, including innovators, ministers of religion, sportspeople and to support the arts. Our broad approach for January 2021 will be to open existing routes that already apply to non-EU citizens, to EU citizens (the current ‘Tier 5’).
International students and graduates
Student visa routes will be opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. You’ll be able to apply for a visa to study in the UK if you:
- have been offered a place on a course
- can speak, read, write and understand English
- have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course
A new graduate immigration route will be available to international students who have completed a degree in the UK from summer 2021. You’ll be able to work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for up to 2 years.
For more information view the Government's publication.
Coronavirus: immigration guidance if you're unable to return to China from the UK
Graduate Immigration Route: Post Study Work
The Government made a surprise announcement on 11 September 2019 that there would be a new 2-year Graduate Immigration Route from the summer of 2021 onwards.
The government has now issued a Graduate Immigration Route factsheet which provides further details.
Prospective and current Tier 4 City students who will successfully complete their Degree courses in the summer of 2021 or after then and hold a valid Tier 4 visa when they apply are eligible. This includes current students who have already started their course.
Successful applicants will be able to work, or look for work in any sector, at any level and will be able to switch into skilled work once they find a suitable job and meet the requirements.
The two year period will be non-extendable.
Both an immigration application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge will be payable, but no sponsorship will be needed from the University.
Those graduating before the Scheme is introduced will not be eligible to apply. The government positon is that:
‘Those whose Tier 4 leave expires before the route is introduced will not be eligible for it, however, most of these students will have had no expectation of benefitting from such a route when they applied to study in the UK. These students can still benefit from the generous provisions which allow them to switch in the skilled work route on favorable terms.’
Further details are not expected until nearer the implementation date. We shall provide more updates when more details become available.
Changes to Immigration Rules - May 2019
e-Gates expansion - Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America nationals
From 20 May, nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America will be able to use the eGates for fast automated arrival at 16 UK airports and Eurostar rail terminals. However if you are coming to the UK as a Short Term Student (as part of the Study Abroad programme; summer school, short courses, modular courses; taking viva; resits, part of your research), then you MUST seek entry via immigration officer. The stamp gives you the permission needed for your studies. You should not be using the eGates entrance to the UK.
International students studying in the UK for over 6 months – international students from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America who are studying for longer than six months and have a student visa (vignette) in their passport or student biometric residence permit, can use the eGates. However you must prove that you entered the UK within the validity of your visa. Acceptable evidence of entry to the UK may include a boarding card, ticket or booking confirmation for travel to the UK.
Changes to Immigration Rules - April 2019
Changes to low risk national country list for Tier 4 applications
From 30th March Argentina, the Maldives, Trinidad and Tobago are removed and Brazil Kazakhstan, Mauritius Oman, Peru, Tunisia are added.
Nationals from low risk countries applying for Tier 4 visas are not required to provide supporting academic or financial documents demonstrating that they meet the Tier 4 requirements with their Tier 4 applications although the UKVI reserves the right to request these after you have applied for the visa.
Earlier switching to Tier 2 for Tier 4 job offer holders with Tier 2 sponsors
The UK government acts on commitment to allow Tier 4 students with a Tier 2 job offer to make an in-country application to 'switch' from Tier 4 to Tier 2 up to three months before the course end date from March 30th 2019.
This should allow employers to sponsor final year Degree students earlier and allow new graduates to apply for their Tier 2 visa earlier and obtain approval to start the Tier 2 job immediately after the official course end date.
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route replaced by Start Up route
From 30th March the current Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route allowing City to sponsor City graduates is being replaced by the Start Up category.
You will be eligible to apply for selection if you are looking to establish a business in the United Kingdom for the first time.
In order to qualify under this category, you will need to demonstrate that your ’business idea is (a) innovative, (b) scalable; and (c) viable’.
City, University of London is an endorsing body for this route.
A grant of immigration permission under this category is for 2-years. After 2 years it is possible to switch to the new Innovator category. The Innovator category leads to settlement.
City Enterprise Team will be publishing more information about the application procedure for selection under the Start Up category which is expected to take place over the summer.
Immigration Health Surcharge Fee doubles.
From 8th January the Immigration Health Surcharge payable by all non-EEA nationals applying for a Tier 4 visa has doubled to £300 (from £150 previously) a year. The amount payable is calculated based on the length of your grant of immigration permission. For each addtional period of up to 6 months it is payable at a fixed rate of £150.
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