The Home Office recently announced major changes that will affect those in the Education sector, although the changes attracted a great deal of press attention, there was a lack of analysis as to how this would impact institutions at an operational level.
I have prepared the following summary of the major changes and how institutions will need to react to these.
14 July 2015
The first change which came into force dealt with the new procedure for entry clearance. International Students no longer receive a stamp in their passport with the full duration of their visa but will instead receive a 30 day entry visa, and will then need to collect a biometric residence permit once they have entered the UK.
Institutions with international students will need to ensure that their staff are aware of this new procedure and that they ensure students provide a copy of their biometric residence permit once it has been collected. If an institution only keeps a copy of the initial entry visa it will not be in compliance with its obligations to the Home Office and enforcement action could be taken.
3 August 2015
From 3 August the Immigration Rules were amended to provide greater clarity on the meaning of "Academic Progression" for international students.
The Home Office have clarified that this means the student must be moving up a level on the National Qualifications Framework unless the course is related to their previous period of study or supports their genuine career aspiration. While the Home Office has not given any guidance on how institutions should assess "genuine career aspirations" care will need to be taken when assessing if a new course of study represents academic progress, particularly in light of the changes announced last year which can result in the loss of Highly Trusted Sponsor status where an institution's visa refusal rate reaches 10%.
Also, new students granted visas to attend publicly funded further education colleges from this date will only be given the right to work for 10 hours a week during term time and these institutions will need to review the information provided to students.
12 November 2015
Institutions will also need to be aware of a number of changes which will come into force on 12 November 2015 that will affect future visa applications.
The first of these changes will be an increased maintenance requirement for all applications and the removal of the "established presence" rule which applies a lower maintenance requirement to existing students applying for extensions. This will require new and existing students to show additional funds when applying for visas. Institutions will need to ensure that their internal advisors make students aware of these changes and should also review any information they publish.
A further change which comes into force on this date is that students studying at Further Education Colleges will not be able to apply to switch onto other work or study based visas from inside the UK at the end of their course. They will instead need to leave the UK and submit a further application. This will affect students with existing visas and institutions should ensure that their students are aware of this.
If you require any further information about how these changes will affect your institution and how you can comply with them, please get in touch.