The UKBA has published a Statement of Intent document, outlining proposed changes to the Immigration Rules. These proposals will be laid before parliament on 15th March 2012 and, if passed, will come into effect on 6th April 2012.

Five year limit for study under Tier 4

Currently adult students are limited to studying courses below degree level (e.g. A-Levels) for a maximum of three years.

In addition to this limit, the UKBA plans to introduce a general limit of five years for study at or above degree level. This means that individuals will usually be able to spend a maximum of eight years studying as adults. Some exceptions to this limit have been outlined, to allow students to follow longer courses (e.g. Medicine, Architecture) or for students in Scotland, where degree courses typically take four or five years.

Full details of the exceptions to this rule can be found on page five of the Statement of Intent, found on the Home Office website, here.

These time limits are being introduced in order to ensure that student visas are not exploited, and study unnecessarily extended, to allow individuals to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the 10 years Long Residence route.

Increased maintenance requirements for Tier 4 (General) applications

The maintenance requirements currently in place have not been reviewed since their introduction in 2008. The UKBA has now decided that these amounts should be increased, in line with the rise in cost of living in the UK.

The UKBA has announced that maintenance amounts for Tier 4 (General) will be brought in line with the level of maintenance loan and grant support available for settled students.

Currently Tier 4 (General) applicants must be able to show £800 for each month of study (up to a maximum of nine months) if studying in inner London or £600 for each month of study (up to a maximum of nine months) if studying elsewhere.

These minimums will be increased to £1000 per month if studying in inner London or £800 per month if studying elsewhere.

Dependants of Tier 4 (General) applicants must currently show £533 for each month of study (up to a maximum of nine months) if the main applicant is studying in inner London or £400 for each month of study (up to a maximum of nine months) if the main applicant is studying elsewhere.

These minimums will be increased to £600 per month if studying in inner London or £450 per month if studying elsewhere.

We understand that individuals applying from 6th April 2012 will need to meet the new maintenance requirements. The UK Border Agency has not yet announced whether there will be any transitional arrangements.