Thursday, November 29, 2012

Student visa expiring

Foreign students in the UK who are not nationals of the European Economic Area must contend with one of the toughest immigration systems in the world and an ever-changing set of rules. This article gives an overview of the options available when your UK adult student visa is expiring. If you intend to continue studying in the UK The most straightforward option is normally to extend your student visa. This is an application for “leave to remain” under the Tier 4 (adult student) category. You must meet the following requirements:
  • Have been accepted onto an suitable course with a registered Tier 4 sponsor;
  • Not have spent more than the maximum period permitted in the UK on a student visa (ranging from three to eight years depending on the course level);
  • Meet the English language requirement;
  • Meet the financial requirement (to have held a specified amount of money for a month preceding the application); and
  • Not fall under the general grounds for refusal (relating to criminal convictions etc).
Further details on the eligibility criteria can be found in the Immigration Rules and official guidance (available on the UK Border Agency website). It’s vital to understand the requirements as there is very little flexibility if they are not met. If you want to work in the UK If you have a job offer from an employer who is licensed to sponsor foreign workers you may be able to extend your stay in the UK under the Tier 2 (General) immigration category. This is subject to various requirements, including a minimum proposed salary and skill level. A list of licensed Tier 2 sponsors is available on the UK Border Agency website. Alternatively, if you want to engage in business in the UK after graduating you could consider the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category (you must have £200,000 or in some cases £50,000 available for investment); or the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category (you must have studied at degree level at an authorised institution that has approved your proposed business plan). If you are married to or in a long-term relationship (two years cohabitation is normally required) with a British citizen or national of the European Economic Area you might be able to make an application to remain here on that basis. There is a number of immigration categories in addition to the above that may allow you to extend your stay in the UK. It is also possible to make a “discretionary “application if you do not fall under a specific category although these are only approved in the most compelling circumstances. In all cases there are two golden rules to follow when your student visa is expiring. First, start planning well in advance. Second, use an adviser who is registered with the Law Society or the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). This will not guarantee that you will be able to stay in the UK but should ensure that you are aware of all the options and minimise the risk of your application being refused on a technicality.
If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: or visit for free immigration news updates.

Unfair family migration Rules

Habib Rahman, Chief Executive of Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) said during the coming year the organisation will focus on campaigning against the Government’s restrictions on family migration. Speaking at the JCWI’s AGM in London last night, Mr Rahman said the Immigration Rule changes, in particular the minimum £18,600 income requirement to bring in a non-EU spouse or partner, introduced by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in July were dividing families and hitting British. Mr Rahman also referred to an article in yesterday’s Evening Standard "Tough New Visa Rules put Foreign Students off London”, where an unlikely ally Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson called on Prime Minister David Cameron to remove students from net migration targets. Speaking in India, Johnson accused the Government of causing “unnecessary alarm” with tough immigration rules, which have already resulted in a 9% fall in student visas, expected to rise to 25% next year. Last week the outspoken London Mayor strongly criticised his own party’s target to slash net immigration, claiming that visa policies were preventing the City and universities from recruiting the brightest talent, and were “a block to growth”. One of the guest speakers at the meeting was Emma Ben Moussa, a British bride of a Moroccan husband, who has just given birth to their first child nine weeks ago. Emma tried to live in Morocco with her husband, but found the life hard and had no chance of finding well paid employment. She returned to her home in Kent this year during the middle of a complicated pregnancy, but could not return to her job as a store manager at WH Smith. The couple found themselves caught in the £18,600 trap and even if she returned to work immediately she would not be able to show 6 months payslips required to sponsor him on a spouse visa. Her husband’s prospective income cannot be taken into account or the fact that she would be able to work full time if he could be here to look after the baby. They obtained a visit visa after what Emma described as a very difficult experience dealing with the British Embassy in Casablanca, Morocco. The JCWI are currently helping the couple to stay together in the UK and have submitted an “outside the Rules” application for further leave to remain. Should this be refused, her case will almost certainly go to appeal and could end up as a test case in the High Court. The second speaker, Professor Eleonore Kofman of Middlesex University, highlighted the discriminatory nature of the new Rules, which will adversely affect 61% of women, double the rate of men, due to lower earnings. Professor Kofman noted that it was not just the arbitrary £18,600 income requirement which was splitting families. Other restrictions contained in the Rules include not allowing a partner’s prospective earnings to be taken into account and length of time needed to prove income. She said the UK was now the second hardest country to sponsor a spouse after Norway. Raza Husein QC offered some hope pointing to two upcoming cases challenging the Rules in the Upper Tribunal and High Court early next year. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, said the Rule changes were rushed through by the Executive without a vote or proper Parliamentary scrutiny. He was disappointed that a “Negative Prayer” or objection laid down in Parliament was only signed by 7 MP’s. Corbyn said it was easy for the Government to be “tough” on poor migrant families and reminded us that the UK was built on immigration and would be a “wet and insular little island” without it. Referring to the London Metropolitan University’s licence revocation, which is in his constituency, he claimed that the UKBA had not acted rationally and had done spot checks on overseas students during the holidays. The meeting ended with a lively question and answer session in which Habib Rahman defended JCWI’s record of campaigning against the UKBA’s onslaught on private colleges and international students. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) is an independent national charity which campaigns for justice in UK immigration, nationality and refugee law and policy.
If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email: or visit for free immigration news updates.

150,000 Tier 4 student notifications of change backlog allowed thousands to overstay visas

John Vine, the Chief Inspector of immigration, admits that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has a backlog of 150,000 ‘notifications about changes in Tier 4 students circumstances’ sent to them by colleges and universities, which means they do not know who has left the country and who has overstayed their visas. The latest UKBA fiasco, reveled in the latest Chief Inspector’s report this week, has allowed thousands of overseas students to potentially overstay in Britain when they should have had their visas curtailed. Mr Vine, has confirmed that at the time of his inspection in May there was a backlog of over 150,000 notifications about changes in students' circumstances, which includes discontinuing studies, failing to enrol on their courses or breaching the conditions of their visas. In John Vine’s report, published this week, Vine says: "As a result, there could potentially be thousands of migrants in the UK who were not complying with the conditions of their visa and whose leave should have been curtailed by the agency but had not been. "One senior manager informed us that at the time of the inspection there were potentially 26,000 students whose leave should have been curtailed and who should have had enforcement action taken against them." The backlog of notifications about changes in the circumstances of overseas students dates back to March 2009 when Tier 4 of the five tier points based system was launched. The problem with Tier 4 is that although it was supposed to be a fully computerised system, it was actually launched as a paper based manual system. Many commentators say ill-prepared points system has ended in tears. Visas were dished out all too easily and non-compliant students reported by the colleges were allowed to overstay their visas. Private colleges have long been aware that change of circumstance reports, such as a student dropping out of a course, sent to the UKBA are rarely even acknowledged let alone acted upon. Now the UKBA is spending millions of pounds of tax payers money employing private companies to track them down – shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Why didn’t the UKBA deal with them when they had their addresses at the time they were reported? Meanwhile UKBA bosses pay themselves massive bonuses, which the Chairman of Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz MP says should be repaid following reports that UKBA officers misled Parliament over another backlog of asylum cases. The UKBA launched ‘Operation Mayapple’ (which sounds like something out of a Bond movie) last May to “identify” student who could still be in the UK and not complying with their Tier 4 visa conditions. ‘Operation Rosehip’ was launched by the at the same time to target students who should have left Britain. As a result 23,000 students had been ordered to comply with their student visas or face enforcement action. Responding to the report, the Immigration Minister, Mark Harper, said: "We are the first government to tackle the historically high levels of abuse in the student visa system. We have toughened the rules to ensure that genuine students are not taken advantage of by organisations looking to sell immigration not education. "At the same time, we have a great offer for the brightest and best international talent who want to study at our world class institutions." Labour's Shadow Immigration Minister, Chris Bryant, said this is yet another damning report about the UKBA and a scandalous situation. Bryant conveniently failed to mention that Labour introduced the points based system and were in power when the backlog of overstayers built up. Cynthia Barker of immigration advisers Concept Care Solutions has helped over-staying students who were arrested and detained pending removal orders. One Nigerian university student client, who had never been in trouble, spent 80 days detained in prison conditions, refused bail, sharing cells with convicted criminals and terror suspects. She said: “Young students from good families are intimidated by the experience of being detained and feel pressured into leaving voluntarily or are scared to seek legal advice. “Some clients leave voluntarily when they had a right to appeal or stay in the UK, for instance because they are in a relationship and have children. “Visa overstayers can avoid removal if they have an EEA partner. In this case we managed to pull him off a deportation flight ten minutes before take off because he was in a genuine relationship, and therefore a human right to a family life under article 8, with his Eastern European girlfriend.” If you have overstayed your visa or need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed down, Visa, ILR, Settlement, Citizenship, Dependent Visa or an appeal against a UK Border Agency or British Embassy refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email or visit