English UK today welcomed an announcement by the UK Border Agency that from 10 January 2010, the Student Visitor Visa will be valid for a maximum of 11 months for English language courses only.
The students must return home at the end of their course, but then should have reached a high enough standard in English that they could apply for a General Student Visa (GSV) to further improve their language skills or enrol at a British university.
Since March, the GSV has only been available for students who had already achieved level B1 – roughly equivalent to AS Level. This was almost impossible to achieve within the previous six-month limit of a SVV, and prevented many genuine students from studying in the UK.
Students who want an extended SVV (including non-visa nationals) must apply in their own country, showing that they have enrolled on a course lasting 6-11 months. They cannot work, bring dependents, switch to another visa type or extend their stay. The extended SVV will be a pilot in the first instance.
Tony Millns, English UK Chief Executive, said: "This change to the student visitor maximum length will provide a route for English language students who are relative beginners and are likely to need a course longer than six months to reach level B1.
"We will monitor how this change works in practice, and will respond to the consultation on student visas, but welcome this as a positive interim move by the UK Border Agency."