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New UK Student Visa changes

We have a sad announcement to make: the Tier 4 student visa scheme is dead. It was replaced on 5 October 2020 by the new “Student” visa and “Child Student” visa scheme. Non-EEA nationals who want to apply to study in the UK must now apply under the new scheme and, as from 1 January 2021 (when European free movement will have ended), EEA nationals will also have to apply under it.

However, the new scheme has a lot in common with the old Tier 4 scheme, and a lot of the basic structure is preserved: the sponsor licence and certificate of sponsorship systems are staying the same as before. (The Tier 4 rules no longer appear in their original place on the Home Office website, but you can access a copy here:

But there is one important difference in the new scheme: the visa switching rules have been made much easier. It was previously very difficult to switch visas into the student route within the UK and most people who wanted to switch had to go back home and make a new entry clearance visa application.

This is now no longer the case in most situations. Migrants who hold, for example, family visas or working visas will be able to switch to a student visa within the UK if they have been offered a suitable course and they meet all the relevant requirements.

This constitutes a major, and very favourable, change in the rules. Another change, not quite as significant but nonetheless helpful in some cases, is that students who have been in the UK for at least 12 months will no longer have to meet a financial maintenance requirement.

As before, there are still English language requirements and also as before students may be allowed to work part-time during study periods (either 10 hours or 20 hours per week, depending on the case) and full-time during course holidays and when the course has finished and their visa is still valid.

So there we have it: those with long memories will remember the old Student and Child Student routes that existed before the points-based system was created, which just goes to show that things go round in circles.

But it has to be said that the new scheme is more flexible and a bit “softer” than its predecessor. If you want help and advice with a student visa application we at GSN Immigration will be able to assist you.

And readers will no doubt also be interested to know – if they have not heard already – that the Home Office is creating a new post-study visa (which may be known as the “Graduate” visa) for students who have successfully graduated in the UK. The full details have not yet been published but this new route is expected to come live in summer 2021 and it is expected that the visa may be of two years’ duration (just like the old Tier 1 Post-Study Work visa).

We will keep readers informed about this as the details become clear.



Oliver Westmoreland

OISC Level 3 Immigration Lawyer

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