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Goodbye Tier 4, Hello Student Route - Everything you need to know about recent UK visa updates

The UK government announced on Friday that new student and child student rules will take effect from the 5th October. Initially expected to come into effect from January 2021, the change will mean that students who are planning to study in the UK from January will need to apply through the new revised, rebranded points-based immigration system. So, what does this mean for students?

More flexibility

Students will see a general increase in flexibility in visa rules. Here’s a breakdown of all the changes set to take place:

· No limit on the number of international students who can come to the UK.

· No time limit on study at post-graduate level, provided the student is progressing academically.

· Students who need to repeat a year, retake a module, or resit an exam do not need to demonstrate academic progression, as would usually be required for those applying in the UK.

· With a huge proportion of international students dealing with travel disruptions on their university plans, students will be allowed to apply for a visa once they are ready to travel to the United Kingdom.

· Visa applicants and their sponsors will see a more streamlined process. University sponsors will be able to self-assess an applicant’s academic and English language abilities.

· Students will only need to show evidence of their finances in their first application, with the requirement being automatically met thereafter. Electronic bank statements will also be confirmed as acceptable.

· Increase in in-country extension options for students below degree level who wish to continue UK studies, but further academic progression must still be met to enable further leave to complete or begin a course.

· Extending leave to take examinations and assessments will also be permitted

Graduate Work Route to come into effect in summer 2021

Another significant benefit for UK visa applicants under the new Tier 4 visa student route is the ability to apply under the new post-study work visa.

The visa, which will be launched in the summer of 2021, will enable international degree-level students to live and work in the UK after their studies for two years in most cases, and for PhD students for up to three years. This includes every university student who started their studies online in the 2020/21 academic year.

It will encourage skilled talent to remain in the UK, with the option to switch into sponsored work later, helping to make UK universities a more competitive and attractive proposition in the global market.

Highly skilled visa route introduced

Lastly, a new route is proposed for a limited number of the most highly skilled workers to come to the UK without a job offer. The route is expected to roll out in early 2021, and will complement the existing Global Talent route.

You can use a Global Talent visa to work in the UK if you’re a leader or potential leader in one of the following fields:

· Architecture

· Arts

· Digital and Tech

· Engineering

· Fashion

· Film and TV

· Humanities

· Medicine

· Science

A welcome change

Introducing these rules early will mean that students can benefit from new, simplified processes and educational sponsors can take time to adapt once enrolment for Autumn 2020 is complete.

Overall, the news is a welcome change for international students at this time of uncertainty, and a clear message that the UK is as committed as ever towards welcoming international students.

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