Visa and immigration news: changes to immigration rules

The Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules have been laid in Parliament on Thursday 7 December and will apply, unless otherwise stated, to applications made on or after Thursday 11 January 2018. Tier 4 sponsors should have received correspondence direct from the Home Office.

Below are the changes that are most relevant to members. For more details and information please review the statement of changes in full. Further guidance will be issued by the Home Office in January.

Short term study

The key changes to the route are:

  • 16 & 17 year olds can apply for the 11 months visa
  • Students can stay in the UK for up to 30 days after their course ends

The minimum age for students applying for the 11 months visa is being lowered from 18 to 16. This means that students who are 16 years old on or after Thursday 11 January will now be able to take an English language course for up to 11 months. (NB: students must be 16 already on the day that they pay for the visa application)

To reflect the lowering of the minimum age for the 11 months visa route, child protection provisions are embedded in the rules. This ensures that immigration officers make the necessary checks ahead of granting entry clearance or permission to enter the UK.

As a reminder, as part of these checks, an immigration officer is entitled to request a copy of the host's passport to assess whether suitable arrangements have been made.

The Home Office is providing clarity on the date of departure from the UK at the end of the course. The rules will allow students to remain in the UK for up to 30 days after their course has ended.

The rules are being amended to make it clear that students on a 6 months short-term study visa are will be allowed to undertake courses concurrently and consecutively. Students wishing to do consecutive courses will need to make this clear on their application, including the total time they plan to spend in the UK, so that a proper judgement can be made by the decision maker with regards to the amount of funding available to them to cover the full visit.

General grounds for refusal

For applications made on or after Thursday 11 January 2018 the 10- year period of automatic entry clearance refusals will apply to those applying for a visa on arrival as well as when applying for a visa extension in the UK

Electronic visas

Further to plans by the government to issue visas in electronic format, the rules are being amended to allow for electronic visas to be an acceptable form of entry clearance. There is no date set as yet for the introduction and roll out of the e-visas. A small pilot is planned with visitors from the USA.


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