International students, from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland, need a visa to study in the UK. Even students classed as “non-visa nationals” will need to apply for the correct permission to study in the UK. Students requiring a Tier 4 visa will need to apply before coming to the UK because it is not possible to switch to this visa category on arrival. They also need to score enough points to be accepted as an international student in the UK.

To be able to apply under the Tier 4 scheme you have to:

• Have a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies from a Tier 4 sponsor – 30 points
• Funds to cover course fees and cost of living – 10 points

The current system grants student visas for an initial period which varies depending on the length of the course. In general, a Tier 4 student can stay in the UK for the length of the course plus 4 months (for courses lasting one year or more) or one or two months (for courses between six months and a year). For shorter courses, international students are only granted a week to stay in the UK once the course has finished.

Work rights

Students who are in a course at or above NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9 at a UK higher education institution are allowed to:

• work for up to 20 hours per week during term time;
• work full-time during vacations;
• do a work placement as part of your course;
• work as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognized Foundation Programme.

If you are on a course below this level at a UK higher education institution, you are allowed to:

• work for up to 10 hours per week during term time;
• do a work placement as part of your course;
• work full-time during vacations.

If you are on a course at any level at a publicly funded further education college, you are allowed to:

• work for up to 10 hours per week during term time;
• work full-time during vacations;
• do a work placement as part of your course, provided your education provider is a Highly Trusted sponsor or the course is at or above NQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9.

After your course is completed, you can use the remainder of your visa time to look for work in the UK so you can transition into another visa category if they wish. Otherwise, you must leave the UK once their visa period ends.

Immigration Health Surcharge

From 6 April 2015 applications for visas that are more than six months long will also include an “immigration health surcharge’.This charge must be paid even if you have your own private medical insurance, and your visa application will not be granted unless you have paid the surcharge.The surcharge is calculated at £150 per year for each year of leave that you are applying for. If the leave includes a period of less than 6 months, the part year is charged at £75. Please note that the charge is calculated on the basis of the total length of leave granted, so any additional time before or after your course will be taken into account.

Dependents

In some cases, you can bring your partner or children, under dependent visas, with you during your studies, but you must show that you have sufficient funds to provide for them. They will be able to apply under the Tier 4 student visa as a dependent.

Student Visa Period – Limits

2/3 year Study Limit

Persons aged 18 and over cannot spend more than three years (or two years after 12 November 2015) in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) migrant studying below degree level. If the grant of leave for a proposed course of study would lead to the student spending over two/three years studying below degree level as a Tier 4 (General) Student since the age of 18, the visa application will be refused. Any course which leads to a qualification below bachelor’s level , or an equivalent qualification at level 6 or below of the revised National Qualification Framework (NQF) will be treated as below degree level. This includes, for example, any University Foundation programme where the exit qualification is below NQF level 6

5 year Study Limit

The five year limit applies to all degree level study undertaken in the UK on either a Tier 4 (General) Student visa or on a Student Visa issued before 31 March 2009, commonly referred to as a General Student, or ‘old style’ Student visa.

If you are making an application to enter or remain in the UK and if that permission were granted it would result in you having spent more than five years studying at degree level in the UK, your application is likely to be refused, unless you qualify for one of the exceptions as detailed below.

8 year Study Limit

The eight year limit will affect students applying for Tier 4 leave after having already completed a postgraduate research qualification in the UK (for definition of a ‘postgraduate research qualification, see Annex 5 on page 95 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance), if the grant of leave you are seeking for the new course will lead to you spending more than 8 years studying in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) Student, a Student with a visa issued before 31 March 2009, or a combination of the two.

For a Tier 4 visa application submitted on or after 10 August 2015, the calculation will be based on the duration of the visa (from the ‘valid from’ date to the ‘valid until’ date).

When calculating the 2/3-year study period caseworkers will not include any time spent in the UK on a Student visa issued before 31 March 2009, as a Tier 4 (Child) aged 17, or any time spent in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) Student aged 16 or 17 years. Study undertaken on any other non-Tier 4 visa which permits study, such as a Points Based System Dependant, will not be included in the study calculation.

Student Visitor Visa

You can apply for a Student Visitor visa if you’re doing a short course of study in the UK, you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland & you meet the other eligibility requirements. You need a Business Visitor visa if you’re an academic visitor.

You can do a short course of study in the UK, such as an English language course or a training course. You can’t study at a state school work or carry out any business, marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or a civil partnership, come to the UK specifically for private medical treatment, extend this visa, bring family members (‘dependants’) with you – they must apply separately or get public funds.

You can stay in the UK for 6 months – for any short course including English language courses or 11 months – an extended visa for English language courses only. It costs £83 for a 6 month standard visa £150 for an 11 month extended visa.

For detailed advise and help regarding Tier 4 student visas, Please call us on 020 3695 4626.