Tier 4 students switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa
Taught students who wish to apply for a Tier 2 (general) visa before completing their course can now apply to switch from a Tier 4 to a Tier 2 visa when they are within 3 months of the course end date, without needing to prove they have sat all exams and submitted all coursework. A confirmation of the course end date from the institution, in the form of a Student Status Letter endorsed by the University, will be sufficient.
There is no change for doctoral students’ Tier 2 visa applications, who still need to provide a student status letter to demonstrate evidence of at least 12-month study at PhD level to apply for a Tier 2.
Two new post-study work visa routes for non-EEA nationals
UKVI is introducing new Start-up and Innovator categories for those coming to the UK to set up a business, replacing the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) categories. The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category has now closed, and the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) is due to close on 06 July 2019.
The Start-up visa is granted for 2 years and provides for those starting a new business for the first time in the UK. The Innovator category is for more experienced business people who have funds to invest in their business.
Amendment to Appendix H of the Immigration Rules (Tier 4 visa)
Appendix H of the Immigration Rules contains a list of countries of low immigration risk whose nationals benefit from a streamlined Tier 4 visa application process. 2018 saw the expansion of visa national countries included in Appendix H for the first time, which benefited tens of thousands of students.
The latest annual review of Appendix H has resulted in the inclusion of Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Oman, Peru and Tunisia; whilst Argentina, the Maldives, and Trinidad and Tobago are being removed from the list.
ATAS for Short-term study visas
Students on an ATAS doctoral course applying for a short-term study visa to attend a viva no longer need to secure a new ATAS certificate for the visa application - students are now able to reuse the original ATAS certificate they obtained to study their doctoral course. Students needing a short-term study visa for other study purposes still need to apply for an ATAS at each visit.