New Tier4 visa pilot
Home Office just published a new internal document for its staff on the 4th of June with new UK Tier4 student visa pilot. Any Tier 4 student qualifies for the pilot if the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) is for a level 7 master’s course (Regulated Qualifications Framework RQF 7, see under), for a duration of 13 months or less (excluding any pre-sessional courses) and issued by a specific list of universities (see under).
What’s new with this pilot is that those universities are now responsible to check all the following before issuing a CAS. Eligibility checks still require that you speak English at level B2 for degree level 7. Your previous qualification or award certificate from previous study must also be submitted. And there is a time limit : the length of your study at degree level must not exceed 5 years. Finally the course must meet the requirements of Tier 4, and must be above the RQF level of the previous course where Tier 4 leave was granted (some exceptions may apply). You must also check with the genuine student criteria rule (for general student).
The main change introduced by this pilot is the document differentiation from regular Tier4 student visa (see under). If you qualify, you will just need to provide the same list of documents as if you were from one of the countries listed in Home Office Tier4 Appendix H, that need to provide a list of documents that is far less bulky than regular Tier4 requirements.
The other main change for british Tier4 student visa pilot is the 6 months additional leave provided by the participating universities at the end of the course. Home Office staff must now give students (and their dependants) who qualify under the pilot and meet the requirements of the Rules a 6 month period of leave to enter at the end of their course, regardless of the course length.
For example, if the course of study begins on 3 October 2016 and finishes on 7 July 2017, Home Office staff must issue leave to enter until 7 January 2018, all this to minimise the inconvenience to students and the additional costs incurred in replacing the BRP (Biometric Residence Permit).
Eligible dependants will qualify for this document differentiation only if they submit their applications at the same time as the Tier 4 student and the applications can be considered together.
If the dependants submit their applications separately, they will need to submit full evidence of their ability to meet maintenance and accommodation requirements.
But ! Home Office staff still has the right to ask individual applicants for documentary evidence (and retain the ability to refuse the applications if they are not provided within the specified period), even if those who qualify for this pilot benefit from the same document differentiation as Appendix H countries.
For exemple, they can ask your funds reference (like bank statements), despite those documents not anymore required to be submited. And you must have those funds already for some time on that bank account. Which means you should prepare your documents as if you would be applying for a regular Tier4 general student visa just in case...
Eligible to RQF level 7 qualifications
All level 7 qualifications (Regulated Qualifications Framework RQF 7) are eligible:
- integrated master’s degree, for example master of engineering (MEng)
- level 7 award
- level 7 certificate
- level 7 diploma
- level 7 NVQ
- master’s degree, for example master of arts (MA), master of science (MSc)
- postgraduate certificate
- postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE)
- postgraduate diploma
List of univertities participating in Tier4 visa pilot
Based on overall visa refusal rates, these universities have been invited to participate in this Tier4 student visa pilot that provides for qualifying students to be granted additional leave at the end of the course :
- Imperial College London
- University of Cambridge
- University of Bath
- University of Oxford
- Cardiff University
- Goldsmiths University of London
- Harper Adams University
- Newcastle University
- Queen’s University Belfast
- The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
- University of Bristol
- Durham University
- University of East Anglia
- University of Edinburgh
- University of Essex
- University of Exeter
- University of Glasgow
- University of Leicester
- University of Liverpool
- University of Manchester
- University of Nottingham
- University of Reading
- University of Sheffield
- University of Southampton
- University of Wales Trinity St. David (Swansea Campus)
- University of Warwick
- University of York
Tier 4 student visa pilot submission
Student qualified for this pilot will benefit from the same document differentiation as Appendix H countries. This means that you are not routinely required to submit:
- certificates or documents used by the Tier 4 sponsor to assess academic ability, for example: qualifications, transcripts, references
- when applying in the UK, you are not required to submit evidence that you have completed your previous course in the UK (this will be noted on the CAS)
- English language tests or documents used by the Tier 4 sponsor to assess English language ability (for example a Secure English Language Test (SELT))
- documentary evidence of your funds, for example: bank statements, building society passbooks, loan letters, (for Tier 4 (General) applicants) evidence of relationship to a parent or legal guardian who is providing financial sponsorship
If your CAS meets the eligibility requirements of this pilot, you will therefore only need to:
- complete the relevant box at section 5.4 of Appendix 8 to confirm that you have the documentary evidence required
- submit the visa application form (VAF, and appendices), your travel document, any required Tuberculosis (TB) and Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificates
There is no requirement for the Commercial Partner staff at the Visa Application Centers (VACs) to determine pilot eligibility as part of the submission process. This will mean that applicants wishing to submit documents will be allowed to do so.