close menu

Important update to UK student visa rules

by 1st Contact | Aug 21, 2015
  • This week the Home Office updated the rules for non-EU students studying in the UK. There are now massive restrictions on students working while they study. Other changes have also been made to the student visa system, which you need to be aware of if you intend to study in the UK.

    Who can no longer work

    From November 2015 only students who are studying full-time (at degree level) at publicly funded British institutions will have the right to work 20 hours a week. If you don’t fit into this category, you are prohibited from working.

    Exceptions to work restrictions

    Students will be allowed to work:

    • If their course requires them to work
    • If their degree has a work-placement programme in which they participate

    Unfortunately, all other non-EU students will be prohibited from working while they complete their studies in the UK.

    Student dependants

    If you are a student dependant, your right to work will also be severely limited. You will only be allowed to work in highly skilled positions. The Home Office plans to release more detail on this in the future, and we will keep you updated.

    Converting your Tier 4 visa to a Tier 2 visa

    Many students who completed their studies in the UK would apply to have their Tier 4 converted to a Tier 2 visa. The new rules, however, mean that only students who are studying full-time (at degree level) at publicly funded British institutions will be allowed to do this.

    If you do not meet these criteria, you must apply for a Tier 2 (or a Tier 5) visa from outside of the UK after you have competed your studies. This application will then be subject to the resident labour market test.

    Students studying below degree level

    Students wishing to apply for a degree-level course after completing vocational studies or receiving a certificate or diploma will have to apply for their new course from outside of the UK. The time these students are allowed to spend in the UK on a Tier 4 visa has been reduced from three to two years.

    How long are UK student visas valid for?

    Whether studying towards a degree, certificate or diploma, a student visa’s time limit will be subject to a less favourable methods of determination. As of November 2015 all of the time a student spends in the UK will now be taken into consideration. Previously, only the duration of a student’s courses counted toward the time allowed by the student visa.

    Degree-level learners will have a maximum of five years (with a few exceptions for doctoral candidates), while below-degree-level learners will only be allowed two years.

    Monitoring students and their studies

    From November 2015 the “established presence” concession will be discontinued. All students (not only those continuing their studies) will have to show that they have access to at least two months of maintenance funds. Students can also be asked to provide evidence of sufficient funds for a period of up to nine months if the Home Office deems it necessary.

    In addition to this, the Home Office will be scrutinising institutions that award Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. This will happen where an institution has been identified as trying to circumvent the new rules. Students may also be interviewed by immigration officials to scrutinize their credibility and motivation to study.

    If you’re a non-EU citizen and you need help with your student visa email 1st Contact Visas or give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7759 7527, and we’ll help you make sense of these new rules.

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

    • visa application
      What’s the difference between a UK Marriage Visitor visa and a spouse visa?
      Nov 08, 2019  |  by John Dunn
    • Sydney skyline
      Invest in Australian property and earn permanent residency for you and your family
      Oct 18, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood
    • Australia-look-see.png
      Everything you should do on your look-and-see visit to Australia
      Aug 12, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood
    • Porto cityscape
      10 reasons to move to Porto, Portugal
      Jul 29, 2019  |  by John Dunn
    • Oxford-street
      Everything you ever wanted to know about applying for a UK Tier 2 (General) visa
      Jul 18, 2019  |  by John Dunn
    • Australia skyline
      Landed a temporary job Down Under? Get an Australian working holiday visa
      Jul 08, 2019  |  by Guest writer
    • sydney-australia
      Australian visa processing times: How long you’ll wait for approval
      Jun 27, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood
    • British passport and citizenship approved
      British citizenship and indefinite leave to remain: Why you need to know the difference
      Jun 25, 2019  |  by John Dunn
    • seven-corners-image
      The importance of purchasing travel insurance with a Tier 4 UK student visa
      Jun 13, 2019  |  by Guest writer
    • kangaroos
      Two new Aussie visa routes for skilled migrants
      May 23, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood

    South Africa

    Cape Town

    Regent Square
    Doncaster Road
    Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120


    25 Richefond Circle
    Umhlanga 4320 +27 (0) 31 536 8844

    United Kingdom


    One Croydon
    12-16 Addiscombe Road
    Croydon CR0 0XT +44 (0) 20 7759 7514



    9 Yarra Street
    South Yarra
    VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

    Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services Licence issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS Licence number 335 126).

    We use cookies to provide the best website experience for you. Using this website means that you agree to this. How we use cookies.