Immigration Rules: information for students and family on November changes

01 December 2016

Note: This story was updated on 16 December 2016 to reflect new information from the Home Office about when the new way of calculating how much money a dependant needs to show comes into effect.


There have been recent changes to the Immigration Rules and guidance which affect people making an application under Tier 4, as well as those applying under the dependant of Tier 4 route. These changes took effect from 24 November 2016. You should familiarise yourself with the new requirements, regardless of whether you started making an application (which you have yet to complete) before the above date, or you have yet to start your application.

We have updated our relevant web information on applying for leave as a student, and as a family member. However, a few key points for students and family to note are outlined below.


Maintenance evidence for dependants of Tier 4 students

The Home Office has changed its guidance on how to calculate how much money a dependant needs to show when they make their immigration application. It used to say that it depended on the length of a student’s course. Now it says that it depends on the length of the student’s immigration permission. The Home Office says it will apply this new way of making the calculation to all applications made on or after 26 November 2016. If you make an application from 26 November 2016 onwards, you should use the new way of making the calculation. If the student has already got their immigration permission, you can look at that to calculate how much you need. If the student does not have their immigration permission yet, you will need to look at the Tier 4 policy guidance (page 29 and 30) to see how long they can expect to be given, so that you can make your calculation.

The Home Office says it will not provide any protection for people who have been preparing to make their applications showing a smaller amount of money but who have not made their applications yet; such people will have to use the new method for calculating the figure. If you made an application on or before 25 November 2016 and you are told you are being refused because of not meeting the maintenance requirement, contact the International Student Adviser at your college or university immediately.  


Maintenance evidence for DES applicants

The Immigration Rules are now clear that applicants under the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) have to show a fixed amount of two months’ worth of funds. The same is true of their dependants.


Evidence of English language ability: new documents required

If the course you are going to study is at degree level-or-above at a higher education institution (HEI), your HEI sponsor continues to have a right to make its own assessment of your English language ability and, in such cases, you do not have to submit any evidence of your language ability with your immigration application. However, several changes affect Tier 4 applicants who are planning to rely on the exemption from requiring a Secure English Language Test (SELT) on the basis of having obtained a previous qualification:

  • Where you are relying on having obtained a qualification in a majority English-speaking country (equivalent to a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD, in the UK ), you must now include an original document from UK NARIC which confirms the assessment of the qualification’s equivalency to a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD, in the UK.
  • If you are doing a short-term study abroad programme as part of studies in the US then, according to the new Immigration Rules, you must also now provide such a document confirming equivalency. However, you can entirely ignore this, because the policy guidance for students (page 39) and for sponsors (document 2 paragraph 5.19) tells you that this requirement is not going to be applied. And please note that if you are a US national, you are in any case exempt from providing a SELT because you are included in the list of nationals whose countries are considered by the Home Office to be majority English-speaking countries.
  • Where you are relying on having obtained a qualification in the UK, the qualification obtained must actually be a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD, qualification, and can no longer be merely equivalent to one of these qualifications.

Academic Progress for Tier 4 applicants

The list of exemptions from being required to show academic progression has been extended. You are now exempt from having to show academic progression where you are applying for leave to remain:

  • because you have previously re-sat an exam(s), or re-taken a module(s), for your course and you need further leave to complete that course; or
  • for the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES); or
  • as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised Foundation Programme; or
  • to undertake a role as a student union sabbatical officer.

Additionally, academic progression is now deemed to be satisfied where you are progressing from:

  • Bachelors to Masters level, as part of an integrated Masters course; or
  • Masters to PhD level, as part of an integrated Masters and PhD programme;

as long as you have been offered a place on the higher level course by the sponsor after an assessment of your academic ability.


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