Advice on student immigration changes

On Monday 13 July 2015 the UK government announced some major changes to the immigration rules which have been widely reported in the media. They include the removal of rights to work for international students in Further Education Colleges. These changes do not apply to students at the University of Sheffield (or to any student at a UK Higher Education Institution).

However, there are a number of other changes which may affect you and your family members which we outline below.

From 3 August 2015

Time limits on study

There are currently time limits on the time you may spend in the UK on a Tier 4 visa. For applications made on or after 3 August 2015, periods of additional leave granted before or after a course will now be included in the caps. If you need to extend your visa in August after the rule has changed you should check with the University’s International Student Support team as to whether your application might be affected by these changes.

From 12 November 2015


If you are applying to extend your Tier 4 visa after 12 November 2015 you will no longer be able to rely on ‘established presence’ where you could show just 2 months of funds to extend your visa. You will need to show funds for the remaining period of their studies up to a maximum of 9 months. This change in the rules does NOT apply if you are applying for a Tier 4 DES visa and you will continue to be able to show just 2 months of funds.

In addition, if you are applying for your Tier 4 General or DES visa after 12 November 2015 you will need to show more funds:

  • £1015 per month (currently £820)
  • £680 per month for each dependant (currently £460)

This means for example a PhD student with 3 dependants needing to extend their visa for a further 12 months after 12 November 2015 will now have to show a total of £27495 compared to £4400 under the current regulations. A PhD student applying for Tier 4 DES would have to show £2030 plus £1360 for each dependant.

Academic progression

There have also been changes to the rules on academic progression but again we are waiting for some clarification as to how these will be applied in practice. They appear to limit students in a whole range of circumstances from being able to apply for Tier 4 (General) leave in order to complete courses they have already started. If you are applying for a new course on or after 3 August which is an increase in level eg. pre-sessional English language to a Masters you will not be affected.

Further changes to be announced.

Work rights for dependants

The Home Office has announced in a press release that it intends to restrict the work rights for dependants from the autumn in order to: “stop Tier 4 dependants from taking a low or unskilled job, but allow them to take part-time or full-time skilled work”. We have not been given any detail as to what is meant by ‘low or unskilled’ work but this may mean that any dependants who make a visa application after these rules changes may have to give up a job if it does not meet the definition of ‘skilled’. We are seeking further clarification from the Home Office as to their proposals. However, at present dependants with a right to work can continue to work in any job without restriction.

Support and advice

If you are concerned about any of these changes please seek advice and support as follows:

Time limits/academic progression - International Student Support

Funds - Student Advice Centre

Work rights - Student Advice Centre

General updates - UKCISA