Immigration - changes to the rules affecting students and their sponsors
The government recently published a Statement of Intent containing details of the changes to the points based system which come into effect on 6 April 2012.
Employers and education providers need to be aware of these changes as they have an obligation to ensure that individuals who are working in or studying at their organisations are legally permitted to do so. In a case last year, a college’s licence to sponsor was suspended by the UK Border Agency for its failure to comply with its immigration control duties.
A number of other changes to the points based immigration system are coming into effect. These are covered in our article 'Immigration update - changes to the immigration rules'. Please see the link to this article in the 'Resources' section below.
The Statement of Intent contains details of changes affecting study, post-study work and maintenance requirements for students and workers. The changes include:
- A requirement that all Tier 4 sponsors must have achieved Highly Trusted Sponsor status and have been inspected by a designated independent body.
- A limit of 5 years (subject to certain exceptions) on the period students are able to remain in the UK for the purpose of degree level study.
- The introduction of a Tier 1 (graduate entrepreneur) route for those students who develop world class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills during their studies in the UK and who wish to remain in the UK to continue working on their ideas after graduation.
- The closure of the Tier 1 (post study work) route to new applicants from 5 April 2012 and its replacement by provisions under Tier 2 (general) dealing with graduates who would previously have been eligible under the Tier 1 (post study work) route.
- The duration of work placements for Tier 4 students studying courses below degree level will be restricted to one third of course time (currently work placements can be for up to one half of course time). Those students studying courses at degree level or above will continue to be permitted to spend up to one half of course time on a work placement.
- The maintenance requirements under Tiers 1, 2, 4 & 5 are to be increased for the first time since 2008.
- An increase in the fees charged by the UKBA.
Employers and education providers should ensure that they are aware of the changes and their effects and act accordingly.