The New Student Route
Only several days ago the UK Government introduced a new Student route, which will become a part of the UK’s New Points-Based Immigration System.
In this article, I’ll analyse the route and help you understand the eligibility requirements.
Is the New Student Route for You?
This route is for prospective students over 16 who want to study in the UK. You’ll need to enrol on a course of further or higher education, a pre-sessional English course, a recognised foundation programme or on the Doctorate Extension Scheme. It is also for someone who wants to take an elected post as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.
Kids, aged 16 or 17, who want to study with a sponsor that is an Independent School on a course at Regulated Qualifications Framework 3 or Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework 6 and above will have a choice. They can apply as a Student or as a Child Student.
The Key Ingredients of a Successful New Student Route Visa Application
There are three key elements of a successful student visa application. To succeed, all prospective students will need to meet:
- The Suitability Requirements
- The Eligibility Requirements
- The Procedure
The Suitability Requirements
In very simple terms, these requirements are there to ensure that anyone who enters or remains in the UK on a visa will not endanger those who already live in the UK.
These requirements are about criminality, fraud, failure to attend interviews or provide further information, which is necessary to assess the application. They are about debts to NHS and failure to pay the Home Office’s litigation costs.
There are two types of Suitability Requirements: mandatory and discretionary. If you are caught by the mandatory grounds for refusal, the decision-maker has no choice but will need to refuse your application.
If any of the discretionary grounds for refusal apply to you – the decision-maker has the discretion and can either allow or refuse your application. I’ve written several detailed articles explaining General Grounds for Refusal. Please feel free to explore this deep topic further.
Do bear in mind that General Grounds for Refusal will vary, depending on where you are. If you are outside the UK, then General Grounds for Refusal for Entry Clearance applications will be relevant. If you are in the UK, then you’ll need to check General Grounds for Refusal for leave to remain applications.
The Eligibility Requirements for the New Student Route
You Need a Visa to Study in the UK
The Home Office says that anyone who wants to come to the UK on the Student route must apply for and obtain entry clearance (visa from outside the UK) as a Student before they arrive in the UK.
This means that even if you are from a non-visa national country, you cannot just flight to the UK and cheerfully announce to the immigration border officer that on your way to the UK you saw a great film about Coco Chanel and now would like to study fashion in the UK. The UK immigration office will not share your enthusiasm and will, unfortunately, not allow you to enter the UK. So, you need a visa to come to the UK on a Student route.
The 6-months and the 3-months Rule
You cannot make your entry clearance application earlier than six months before the start date of your course.
With the UK new Points-Based System rules, the Home Office introduced a new legal phrase: “permission to stay”. In the definition section, the Home Office defines this phrase as ‘leave to remain and references to a person having, having had, or being granted “permission” means permission to enter or permission to stay.’
Those, with ‘permission to stay’ can apply no more than three months before the start date of the course. You’ll find the ‘start date’ in your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies, which you’ll need to get before applying for your visa.
Persuading the decision-maker that you are a genuine student is one of the most important aspects of the application.
The Home Office did not give the definition of a ‘genuine student’ in their rules. However, in their guidance, they provided a helpful list of factors, which the decision-makers will consider when assessing this element of the application.
Here they are:
- The immigration history of the applicant and any dependant
- The applicant’s education history, study and post-study plans
- The personal and financial circumstances of the applicant and any dependant
- The qualification, course provider and agents
- English language ability
- Role of dependants
- Pull factors (factors which influences students’ choice of the UK as a study destination)
Every prospective student will need to get 70 points for the application. Despite the ‘mix and match’ idea behind the UK’s new Points-Based system, prospective students don’t have the luxury of choosing from which points to choose.
Their choice is limited to:
- 50 points for meeting the following five requirements:
- the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies requirement
- Course requirement
- Approved qualification requirement
- Level of study requirement
- Place of study requirement
- 10 points for meeting the financial aspect of the application and
- 10 points for meeting the English language requirement
They’ll need to score all these points to succeed in the application.
10 points for Meeting the Financial Requirement
There are two groups here: those who don’t need to show funds and those who do.
You don’t need to show that you have funds if one of the two case scenarios apply to you:
- You are applying for permission to stay and have been living in the UK with permission for 12 months or more on the date of application.
- If you are applying for entry clearance or permission to stay and are applying as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer or to study on a recognised foundation programme as a doctor or dentist in training.
You will need to show that you have funds if you are applying for Entry clearance or permission to stay (when you have been in the UK with permission for less than 12 months).
The amount you need show will depend on where you intend to study:
Studying in London
If you intend to study in London, you’ll need to show that you have at least £1,265 for each month of your course. However, only for nine months. So the maximum amount you’ll need to have in your bank account is £1,265 x 9 months = £11,385.
If you are enrolling on the Doctorate Extension Scheme – you’ll only need to have £2,530.
You don’t need to show any funds if you intend to study at the Residential Independent School. All you have to do is to cover course and boarding fees for one academic year.
Studying outside London
You’ll need to have less money in your bank account if you intend to study outside London. The maximum amount is £9,135 (£1,105 per months, for a maximum of 9 months).
It is only £2,030 for those on a Doctorate Extension Scheme.
The same rules apply to prospective students wishing to study at the Residential Independent School.
10 points for meeting the English Language Requirement
If you intend to study at the Bachelor Degree level than you’ll need to know the English language at the B2 level of the CEFRL in all four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening.
If it is a below Bachelor Degree level course, then it is must be at the level of at least B1 with all four components.
Academic Progress Requirement
When I studied at the University in London, there was a phenomenal guy, who we called the ‘forever’ student. He was from a wealthy family from a visa national country. The guy loved living in the UK and attending various courses. He took his time to digest new subjects and was not shy repeating the modules or resitting the exams, whenever it was necessary. At that point, he already had two degrees and was aiming to get another one.
The Home Office introduced the academic progress requirement to ensure that guys like him do not make studying their full-time career.
The rules behind the academic progress requirement are very simple. When you have an intention of extending your visa while in the UK, you’ll need to show that the course on which you’ll be enrolling is above the level of the previous course. So, if you did the foundation course, you’ll need to progress to the Bachelor Degree level course. If you did the Bachelor degree course – you’ll need to do a Masters Degree.
There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, when you intend to extend your visa to resit the exam or repeat a module. However, you can only do this twice. It is unless the Sponsor is a student sponsor (i.e. is not a probationary sponsor).
Maximum Period of Study Requirement
The rules below apply only to you if you are over 18.
You can stay for a maximum period of two years if you study at the below degree level. It’s three years for postgraduate doctors and dentists.
If you study at the degree level, you can remain in the UK for up to five years.
You will be exempt from the 5-year rule if you study:
(a) architecture; or
(b) medicine; or
(c) dentistry; or
(d) veterinary medicine and science; or
(e) music at a music college that is a member of Conservatoires UK; or
The procedure consists of five steps:
- The form;
- The fee;
- The ID and the documents;
- you’ll also need to provide a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies reference number. The Sponsor should have issued it to you before the date of application.
Switching is a legal term which defines the process of changes the UK immigration categories while in the UK. For example, if you came to the UK as start-up migrant and then married a British citizen and applies as a spouse of a British citizen – you have ‘switched’ immigration categories.
The UKVI has strict rules about switching to the new Student Route. According to these rules, you cannot switch to this new UK’s Point-Based Immigration category if you remain in the UK:
- as a Visitor; or
- as a Short-term Student; or
- as a Parent of a Child Student; or
- as a Seasonal Worker; or
- as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or
- remain in the UK without a visa; or
- are on immigration bail
If your application is not successful, you can apply for Administrative Review.
The standard ones:
- you cannot claim benefits
- no work is allowed unless you are a full-time degree level student (20 hours) or a below degree level student (10 hours).
- You cannot study anywhere else (with some exceptions)
- You’ll need to register with the police.
Your Visa Duration
The length of your visa will depend on the duration of the course.
|Type of Course||Period granted before course start date||Period granted after course end date|
|A course of 12 months or longer||1 Month||4 Months|
|A course of 6 months or longer but shorter than 12 months||1 Month||2 Months|
|A pre-sessional course of less than 6 months||1 Month||1 Month|
|A course as a Postgraduate doctor or dentist||1 Month||1 Month|
|A course of less than 6 months in length which is not a pre-sessional course||7 Days||7 Days|