International Student Support

Immigration News

We will update this page with changes to the immigration rules when they are announced and other relevant information.

New UKVI processes for in country visa extensions and Biometric Residence Permit replacements - taking your biometrics and scanning your documents - December 2018

From 30th November 2018, UKVI introduced new processes for taking biometrics and scanning your visa extension documents. We are still waiting for more details from UKVI and so have not been able to update our visa extensions advice online. If you require further guidance and information on this issue, please contact us on immigration@sussex.ac.uk and we will advise you individually. In the meantime, UKCISA have some useful advice on their webpages here, and UKVI here .

Please note that the UKVI are currently operating two concurrent systems for submitting a Tier 4 visa extension application and making a BRP (RC) application – the existing system and the new system. Currently it is possible to still use the existing application systems and until we are able to receive further information from UKVI to update our guidance about the new systems, we recommend that you consider using the existing routes for which you can still use our guidance notes to help you. If you do decide to use the new route, please be aware of one very important point that you will be able to leave your biometric appointment with all of your original documents, including your passport, as these will no longer be retained by UKVI. However, you should NOT travel outside the UK until you receive a decision on your visa application and your BRP, as if you do, this will result in your Tier 4 visa application being withdrawn (ie cancelled) by UKVI. 

Proposed IHS increase from £150 per year of leave to £300 - November 2018

UKVI have proposed an increase to the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application). IHS is payable with every Tier 4 visa extension application even if you did not need to pay it in a previous visa application. UKVI have indicated that in December 2018 the IHS payment will double in price from £150 per applicant per year, to £300 per applicant per year. There is still no confirmation from UKVI of the exact date as yet, but you can read more about the increase here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/increase-to-immigration-health-surcharge-gives-nhs-extra-funding

 You may wish to factor this proposed increase into the timing of your visa application as IHS must be paid at the point of visa application, for each applicant - including any dependants, for the full length of your course. Please email us on immigration@sussex.ac.uk if you have any questions.

Changes to Immigration Rules affecting students - 11 January 2018

Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules was published on 7 December 2017  and the changes came into force on 11 January 2018l. The main changes relevant to Sussex students are:

Changes to Tier 4

  • There will be an option for students to study part-time courses in the UK if the course leads to a qualification at RQF level 7 or SCQF 11 and above, and if the sponsor is a Higher Education Institution (HEI).  Students studying such part-time courses will not be permitted to work in the UK (this includes on a work placement), will not be entitled to bring family members as Tier 4 dependants, will not be able to apply to extend their Tier 4 visa from within the UK and will not be eligible to switch into other immigration categories permitting work after completing the course.
  • Students who need to make a Tier 4 application to undertake a study abroad programme or an assessed work placement, or who need to extend their visa having completed a study abroad programme or work placement as part of their course, will be exempt from having to meet any requirement about academic progress. This means that students who add a study abroad or work placement to their degree can choose to makie the visa application from within the UK (previsouly they could only apply from overseas). For full details on the visa implications of adding a study abroad or work placement, please see our changes to your course of study page. 

Changes for ‘Short-term students’

  • The minimum age to apply as a short-term student will be reduced from 18 to 16.  This means that students aged 16 and over will be eligible to come to the UK for the longer period of 11 months in order to study an English language course.    
  • Short-term students are currently required to leave the UK at the end of their course or at the end of the 6-month period of immigration permission, whichever is sooner. This will change to allow short-term students to stay for up to 30 days after the course has ended.    
  • It has been made clearer that students will be able to undertake courses concurrently and consecutively as long as all courses can be completed within the 6-month validity period of the visa.    

Changes to post-study work options

  • Tier 4 students (excluding those studying a PhD) who are switching to Tier 2 (General) currently need to have completed and passed their course. This will change so that students can make their application for Tier 2 as soon as the course has been completed. If the final degree certificate or academic transcript is not yet available, evidence can be submitted stating the date the course was completed, having sat all exams and presented all academic papers.

Other changes

  • Electronic visas for applications made outside of the UK will be introduced and trialled initially with specific groups.  This means that when an entry clearance application is granted, the immigration permission will usually be endorsed in the passport, but in some cases it will be granted electronically.
Important message from Sussex Police - Do not lend your ID/ BRP card to anyone

Sussex Police have contacted us to say they are having problems with University of Sussex students lending their official ID (e.g. Sussex ID card, Biometric Residence Permit) to their friends with the intention of using them fraudulently to gain entry to over 18s only night clubs. If you use someone else’s ID, you are committing a criminal offence of fraud by misrepresentation and the person lending the ID is an accessory to the offence.

It should be noted that being convicted of a criminal offence in the UK can have serious consequences for your immigration position.

Nightclubs follow strict rules about ID and many will scan the documents carefully on entry. If it’s found that an ID has been used fraudulently the nightclub will confiscate the ID and pass it onto the police. The police will NOT return the ID to the student but will return it to the issuing authority. In the case of BRPs, the card will be sent to UKVI (with a letter from the police explaining the circumstances) who will then cancel the BRP and contact the student. The student will then need to make a replacement BRP application, explaining the circumstances, at a cost of £56 for a standard application (which can take up to 8 weeks to process) or £556 for a premium application.

Before going, you should check with the venue what ID they will accept. Some venues in Brighton may accept the Citizen or Pass card, and you may be able to use this in place of your passport or BRP. We would always advise against taking your passport or BRP out with you, where possible.

Changes to Immigration Rules affecting students - 6 April 2017

Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 1078 was published on 16 March and the changes came into force on 6 April. The main changes relevant to Sussex students are:

Work

‘Week’ has been defined as “a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday” so Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) students must ensure that their working pattern and hours fit this definition. This means that if you have a 20 hour per week work condition on your visa (during term-time), you must not work more than 20 hours between Monday-Sunday in any given week.

General grounds for refusal

Part 9 of the immigration rules deals with some of the grounds on which a visa application can be refused. Previously (before 6 April 2017), if you overstayed your visa in the UK by 90 days or less and left voluntarily, any visa application you make overseas would not fall for automatic refusal due to the overstay. This period has now been reduced to 30 days. If you do overstay for more than 30 days any visa applications will fall for automatic refusal for 12 months.

Please note you should never overstay your visa and make sure you either submit a new visa application or leave the UK on or before your visa expiry date. See protecting your Tier 4 status for more information.

Increase in visa fees

The Home Office has announced an increase in visas fees. The main changes relevant to Tier 4 applications are:

Tier 4 application made outside the UK - £335 (previous £328)

Tier 4 application made inside the UK - Standard £457 (previous £448), Priority £916 (previous £826), Premium £1047 (previous £920) 

Changes to Immigration Rules affecting students - November 2016

There have been very recent changes to the immigration guidance. Be aware aware of the main changes below:

Changes to amounts of maintenance that Tier 4 dependants will need to show as part of a visa application

The Tier 4 family member/dependants maintenance monthly amount remains at £680, capped at a maximum of 9 months (the maximum required per dependant will be £680 x 9 months = £6120).

Previously the UKVI informed us that Tier 4 students and their dependants should show maintenance requirements which were based on the length of the Tier 4 students course. However, this has now been amended (for dependants only), to the length of the students' leave.

This means that from 25 November 2016, any Tier 4 dependant visa applications, will now need to show maintenance for each dependant based on the amount of leave that the Tier 4 student could expect to get.

For example, if a student has a CAS with a course start and end date of six months in length, as this would attract an extra four-month period at the end of the visa, (meaning a visa will be granted for the Tier 4 student for 10 months) each Tier 4 dependant would need to show maintenance for the maximum of nine months.

As it is very rare for the University of Sussex student to have course dates of less than 5 months, summarising, we expect most students to need to show the maximum of 9 months maintenance for each dependant.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have so far made no concessions for students who are about to make visa applications but the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) have made representations to the UKVI, asking them to reconsider this new rule and explaining how difficult this may be for students who did not expect this change.

In the meantime, we would advise all students who will need to make a Tier 4 application for themselves and any dependants (including babies born in the UK and don’t have a visa yet), to ensure that they have sufficient finances available for the maximum 9 month period (£6120 for each dependant applying).

If we receive any further news on this, we will of course let you know. See below for details of the Policy Guidance and links:

Family member of a Tier 4 (General) student

If you are the family member of a Tier 4 (General) Student, your maintenance requirements will depend on the following circumstances:

  • the length of the Tier 4 (General) student’s leave;
  • where the Tier 4 (General) student will be studying in the United Kingdom; and
  • whether the Tier 4 (General) migrant is on or applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme. 

If the Tier 4 (General) student is studying on a course based outside of London, you must have at least £680 per month to support yourself for the duration of the student’s leave up to a maximum of 9 months, unless paragraph 64 applies.

If you are applying as the dependant of a Tier 4 student who is on the doctorate extension scheme, you will need to demonstrate maintenance for a period of two months.

See page 14 of the UKVI guidance document for more information.

Find out more about Tier 4 dependants and visa applications.

Changes to the overstaying rules

The UKVI have also amended the rules surrounding overstaying (both for Tier 4 students and their dependants).

Overstaying has always been an illegal situation to be in and it has never been advised, however, the UKVI have now stated that no visa application can be made from inside the UK from applicants who are beyond their visa expiry date unless:

 “the application is made within 14 days of your leave expiring and the Secretary of State accepts there is a good reason beyond your control, or the control of your representative, preventing the application from being made in time, the overstaying will be disregarded”

UKVI give examples of what they deem as a good reason beyond your control – these are very strict and require evidence, for example, serious illness.

This means that anybody who does not apply for their Tier 4 visa extension on or before their visa expiry date and does not have what UKVI deem as a good reason (above) will no longer be able to apply from within the UK and will need to leave the UK.

See page 35 of the Tier 4 policy guidance for more information

Warning over work visa scam

Be aware of this potential work visa scam that has been reported to UKCISA.

We have had no reports from University of Sussex students but email immigration@sussex.ac.uk if you have any concerns.

Changes to the Immigration Rules affecting students - July, August and November 2015

Below is a summary of the changes to the Immigration Rules, made by the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC297.

Start date of entry clearance to be granted

For Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) entry clearance applications (applied for overseas) decided on or after 14 July 2015, where studying on a pre-sessional course, or a course of longer than six months, the start of the permission will be the later of:

  • one month before the course start date on your CAS; or
  • 7 days before the date you indicated on your entry clearance application as your intended date of travel.

See Biometric Resident Permits formore information on where to collect your BRP.

This does not affect current students in the UK with a Tier 4 visa and only applies to students who have applied outside the UK recently.

Work permission for those with Tier 4 (General) permission

Those who make new applications under Tier 4 (General) on or after 3 August 2015 to study at a publicly-funded further education college will no longer be allowed to work, except where undertaking a work placement as part of the course. This does not affect those with existing permission under Tier 4 (General).

Students studying at universities and Tier 4 dependants are unaffected by these changes.

Applying to extend permission in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) student

From 12 November 2015, only Tier 4 (General) students who have, or who have last, been sponsored by one of the following can apply to remain in the UK as a Tier 4 (General) student:

  • a UK recognised body or body in receipt of public funding as a HEI; or
  • an overseas HEI if you are undertaking a short-term study-abroad programme in the UK; or
  • an embedded college.

The list above includes most UK universities so Sussex students will continue to be able to extend their permission to apply in the UK (provided they meet the other requirements).

Time limits on study ('caps')

The cap on studying below degree level, when applying for Tier 4 leave, will be reduced from three years to two years from 12 November 2015.

For Tier 4 (General) applications made using a CAS issued on or after 10 August 2015, periods of additional leave granted before or after a course will now be included in the caps. Previously only the course dates had been used to calculate the study period. Please see our information on the five-year cap for further details. 

Academic progression

In order to demonstrate academic progression in a Tier 4 (General) application from 3 August 2015, students must be doing a course which is a higher level than the previous course studied under Tier 4 (General) or ‘Student’ leave. There is an exception for students applying for another course at the same level as the previous course if the sponsor of the new course is an higher education institution (HEI) with Tier 4 sponsor status and is able to confirm that the:

  • new course is related to the previous course (examples where this may be the case include where the new course is connected to, part of the same subject group as, or involves deeper specialization of the previous course for which Tier 4 leave was granted),or
  • previous course and the new course together support a student's genuine career aspirations

Note that academic progression cannot be demonstrated where the new course is at a lower level than the previous course.

Those in the following situations will not have to demonstrate academic progression:

  • re-sitting an exam or repeating modules; or
  • applying for leave to remain to complete a PhD or other doctoral qualification where this course was studied under Tier 4 (General) or ‘Student’ leave; or
  • making a first immigration application to complete a course started at an institution which had its Tier 4 licence revoked; or
  • making a Tier 4 (General) application overseas

If a student has failed to successfully complete a previous course for which they were granted Tier 4 leave by achieving the qualification for which they were studying, they will not be able to demonstrate academic progress and will have to apply from overseas if they wish to make a Tier 4 application to study a new course.

Maintenance funds

Tier 4 (General) applicants will no longer benefit from the provision to show only two months’ maintenance funds, known as having an ‘established presence’. This affects applications made on or after 12 November 2015. However, those applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme will still be able to show only two months’ maintenance funds.

There will also be new maintenance amounts from 12 November 2015. Currently you need to show £820 per month up to a maximum of £7380 (if you don't benefit from established presence). If you make your Tier 4 application on or after 12 November 2015 this amount will increase to £1,015 per month. Therefore if your course lasts for nine months or more you will have to show £9,135.

For applications made on or after 12 November 2015 the maximum amount that can be deducted for accommodation from maintenance increases to £1,265 (from £1020).

For applications made on or after 12 November 2015, the funds requirement for Tier 4 dependants increases to £680 per month (from £460 per month).

2 June 2015 changes - IHS and babies born in the UK

Following the introduction of the immigration health surcharge, there are some additional implications to note: 

  • Babies born in the UK since 6 April 2015 - If you have recently had a baby or are due to, please be aware that access to secondary health services e.g. hospitals, has changed since the introduction of the immigration health surcharge on 6 April 2015. Find out more about these changes. Note that babies born in the UK are no longer able to access secondary NHS services for free once they are over 3 months old. This means that to ensure any babies born to Tier 4 students after this date are covered by the NHS, you will need to make a Tier 4 dependant visa application for them and receive a successful outcome, before they are three months old. As a postal application may take longer than this time, we see no alternative than to advise students to consider making a Tier 4 premium application, to ensure that you get a decision quickly and before the baby reaches 3 months. The only alternative would be to ensure you have private healthcare insurance for the baby. UKCISA are currently querying this policy with the UKVI and if we receive alternative advice, we will let you know. Otherwise, please ensure that you act quickly to ensure your new baby is covered by the NHS and email immigration@sussex.ac.uk if you want to discuss this further.
  • Overstayers - Individuals who are in the UK without a current visa  (where you have not made a visa application extension before your previous visa expired) are not covered by the NHS and should therefore ensure that they have suitable medical cover in place during any period of overstay. 
6 April 2015 changes - Introduction of health charge and exit checks

NHS health surcharge

As we posted on our webpages in February, the Immigration Act 2014 gave the UK Government the power to introduce an immigration health charge.

Many people who need immigration permission to come to or stay in the UK will be charged an additional sum as part of their immigration application. This will entitle them to receive free health services under the National Health Service.  Charges will be made for temporary (non-EEA) migrants who are coming to the UK for more than 6 months. If you already have a visa, you do not need to pay the charge until such time that you need to extend your visa again.

Key points

  • The surcharge will be introduced on 6 April 2015 and will apply to visa applications where payment is made on or after the 6 April.
  • The health surcharge will be set at £200 a year for temporary migrants (for example, Tier 2 applications) and £150 a year for students. Dependants will generally be charged the same amount as their main applicant. The total surcharge amount for the whole period of leave granted will be payable upfront.
  • The amount payable will be based on the maximum period of time for which permission could be granted under the relevant application route, or according to the length of time stipulated in the certificate of sponsorship or certificate of acceptance of studies. Where the maximum period includes part of a year, a pro rata payment will be applied. Where this is for six months or less, the amount payable will be half the annual surcharge. Where the period is for more than six months, the full surcharge will be payable. See UKVI guidance for details of how long a period of leave you should be granted permission for
  • There are a few exceptions to the healthcare surcharge, including Australian and New Zealand nationals. Find out more.

More information on how the process will work in practice, for example, how you pay the surcharge, is not currently available. As soon as we know more on this, we will update our visa information pages. If you are considering making a visa application around this time, you may like to take these new charges into account. In addition, please note that the University is closed for the Easter break around this time, from Thursday 2nd to Tuesday 7 April inclusive.

ATAS changes

Currently, most people applying for leave under Tier 4 in order to do a course, or undertake research, in the subject areas listed in Appendix 6 of the Immigration Rules: (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/immigration-rules-appendix-6) are required to obtain ATAS clearance. From 6th April, the number of immigration categories that will require ATAS clearance for study of a course, or a period of research, in such a subject area will increase greatly. This will only affect people granted leave based on an immigration application made on or after 6th April. Currently, this requirement applies only to Tier 4 students but on the information currently available, suggests that from 6th April, most students who are following an ATAS requiring course (including student visitors, dependants and Tier 1, 2 or 5 visa holders) will need to apply and produce an ATAS certificate to the University in order to study a course or undertake research in the subject areas.  This forms a “study condition” for you and you are required by law to conform. We await further detail on this from UKVI and UKCISA and so will update you when we know more.

A further change to the ATAS requirements means that applications for the doctorate extension scheme (DES) made on or after 6th April do not require fresh ATAS clearance if students already have an ATAS certificate.

Biometric Immigration Documents (BIDS) for those applying for entry clearance

The UK Government is changing the way that it issues permission for people to come to the UK from abroad for more than six months. To start with the new system will apply only to people applying from Pakistan (18 March 2015). Soon after that it will be extended to a second group of countries in mid-April, with more countries being added on 29 May 2015, and all the remaining countries in the world on 31 July 2015.

Find out exact details of these countries.

The current system is that when students apply in their home country for permission to come to the UK, they receive an ‘entry clearance’ sticker in their passport, which usually gives them permission to enter the UK and then stay in the UK for the length of their course (plus a short time afterwards).

The new system will be more complicated. When a student makes their immigration application abroad, they will have to say what town they are going to stay in when they first arrive in the UK. They will be given a short-term entry clearance in their passport that gives them 30 days in which to travel to the UK and then go to a Post Office near the town identified, to collect a ‘Biometric Immigration Document’ (‘BID’) which shows their permission to be in the UK for the rest of their course (plus a short amount of time afterwards).

Most students will want to collect their BIDs very soon after arriving, as they are likely to be needed for many purposes.

When completing the entry clearance visa application form online, students will be asked to provide their intended date of travel to the UK and to give a postal code for an address where they will stay after arriving in the UK.

The post code will be used to determine which Post Office the residence permit will be delivered to; the single-entry travel visa will be valid for 30 days from the intended date of travel to the UK. This travel visa cannot be extended. Students will need to carry the Home Office decision letter in their hand luggage and present this with their passport at their designated Post Office within 10 days of arriving in the UK. Find out more.

This information may be amended over the next few months, as there are currently considerations surrounding alternative proposals to collect BID’s during the peak Autumn term periods, when large numbers of students will need to collect their BID from a Post Office. We will keep you up to date with this, when we receive more information.

Exit checks when leaving the UK

From 8 April 2015, the Home Office will check the immigration status of those leaving, as well as entering, the UK.

Information about passengers who travel using scheduled commercial flights will be gathered in the same way as now, using advance passenger information. There will be more checks than usual for those travelling in other ways, for example, by train or ferry, so allow more time to go through immigration controls before your departure.

The Home Office has published guidance about how exit checks should work.

 

 

International Student Support

E international.support@sussex.ac.uk
T +44 (0)1273 67 8422