Changes affecting study, post-study work and maintenance requirements for students and workers

The Immigration Minister has announced new changes to the immigration rules affecting study, post-study work and maintenance requirements for students and workers to be brought into effect from 6th April, 2012.

The Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) route will close on 5th April, 2012, and be ‘replaced’ by new provisions under the Tier 2 (General) immigration category allowing those who have graduated from a UK recognised body with a  Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD (or a PGCE or PGDE) to work for a registered employer in a skilled job if the salary is at least £20,000 a year (and at least the ‘going rate’ for the job according to the Codes of Practice).  Those applying for leave to remain in the UK in this category will not be subject to an annual limit in respect of Certificates of Sponsorship.  So far, no difference to current Tier 2 rules!  However, there is one effective difference: the employer will not need to undertake a Resident Labour Market Test in respect of such applicants.

A new Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme will be opened for those students identified by participating Higher Education Institutions (who must be Highly Trusted Sponsors and A rated if they hold a Tier 2 licence) as possessing ‘world-class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills’.  The institution from where the application has graduated will need to sponsor the applicant.  There will be a limit of 1,000 places in the first year.  Recipients will be granted 12 months’ leave initially and will be expected to spend their time developing their business but will be permitted to work for 20 hours a week in order to support themselves.

In the second year graduate entrepreneurs will be expected to switch into the main Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category or leave the UK but will need access to only £50,000 to invest in their business.  (This lower investment funds limit will also be applied to Post-Study Workers who have established their own business in the UK.)  Time spent in this graduate entrepreneur category will not go towards the qualifying period for indefinite leave to remain.

Maintenance funds requirements for all the Points-Based System’s categories will be increased
There will be a limit of five years that can be spent studying at degree level under Tier 4.
All Tier 4 sponsors will need to be highly trusted and approved by a designated independent body by December 2012.

Work placements on courses below degree level or not at a Higher Education Institution (HEI) will be limited to one third of the course time.

Students wishing to study a pre-sessional course before the main course on a single CAS will need an approved English language test certificate to level B1 (and will no longer be able to be assessed in this regard by their HEI sponsor).

Posted in English on Feb 12, 2012.