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On 13 July 2015, the Home Office announced a number of changes being made to the UK Immigration Rules in relation to Tier 4 visas.
At present, a foreign national can apply to study in the UK if they are 16 years of age or over and meet certain eligibility requirements. The government has now announced a number of changes to this type of visa. Of particular note to employers is the following:
New students at publicly funded colleges will be prevented from being able to work in the UK, bringing them in line with those of international students at private colleges. This restriction will be in place from August 2015.
Tier 4 dependents will be stopped from taking a low or unskilled job, but will be able to take part-time or full-time skilled work. This change is expected to be put in place from the autumn.
College students will be banned from being able to switch visas to Tiers 2 or 5 in the UK, and required to apply for them from outside the UK. This ban will be imposed from November this year.
The time limit for study at further education level will be reduced from 3 years to 2 years to bring the maximum period into line with the length of time British students generally spend in further education. This only applies to students studying at below degree level in further education colleges and will take effect from November 2015.
The new rules represent a significant shift for Tier 4 students at publicly funded further education colleges. At present these Tier 4 students can work up to 10 hours a week in term time and full time in vacation periods, so the ban on working for these Tier 4 students is likely to have a significant impact. Importantly, employers who recruit or engage students from overseas should be aware of the changes to the UK Immigration Rules and make any necessary changes, including checking that any Tier 4 students they employ are able to work in the UK.