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Closure of Tier 4 & Introduction of the Student and Child Rules

14 September 2020 Grace McGill Blog

The Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes will be closed to new applications after 5 October 2020 at 0859. References to Tier 4 have either been deleted from the Immigration Rules or amended where appropriate to reflect the new Student and Child Student rules.

Guidance relating to these rules changes will be updated and placed on GOV.UK website.

Closing the Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes with have little or no effect on students currently in the UK or who were planning to apply under the routes as the Student and Child Student rules will replace the existing routes and will provide a simplified pathway through the UK’s education system. The changes will have a higher impact on students of EEA nationalities, as they will no longer be able to enter the UK on the basis of Free Movement and will have to apply for a visa prior to entering the UK

The changes are being introduced to give effect to the Government’s plan to create a global visa system which applies equally to all individuals coming to the UK to work or study, including EEA nationals. The Government set out its intent in a policy statement, The UK's points-based immigration system , on 19 February 2020 and provided further details in its policy statement, UK points-based immigration system: further details statement , on 13 July 2020.

The Student and Child Student routes, collectively referred to as the Student routes, are for both European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA nationals who wish to come to the UK for the purpose of study. The Student and Child Student routes will replace the Tier 4 (General) and Tier 4 (Child) routes in the Immigration Rules. The main differences between the Tier 4 routes and the Student routes are outlined below:

  • EEA nationals will be incorporated into a global application system. EEA nationals will be required to meet the same requirements to study within the UK as non-EEA nationals and will need to apply under the Student rules;
  • There are increased switching permissions within the study route and increased switching between routes within the Points Based Immigration System. Students will be able to apply for further permission from within the UK, provided they meet the Academic Progression requirement and the new course of study commences within 28 days of the expiry of the current leave. Under the Student and Child Student routes, applicants will be able to apply for further permission to stay in the UK to study under Student Routes, unless they last held leave as a visitor; or a short-term student; or granted outside the immigration rules. Additionally, a migrant cannot apply if they last held leave as a Parent of a Child Student; a Seasonal Worker; or as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household. These applications will be rejected rather than refused if they do not meet this requirement;
  • The eight-year time limit on studying courses at postgraduate level has been removed. There is no longer a limit on the time that an individual can spend studying postgraduate courses;
  • Applicants who apply for permission to stay in the UK will not be required to provide evidence of maintenance funds when they have spent longer than one year in the UK on their current visa;
  • Students at higher education providers with a track record of compliance will not routinely be required to provide evidence of academic qualifications used to obtain the offer of sponsorship;
  • Students who will be applying for leave as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer or to study on a recognised Foundation Programme will not be required to prove evidence of maintenance funds, as it is accepted that these individuals will be earning an income during the validity of their visas.

As part of the new simplified style, new rules are being introduced on English Language and Finance (which will only apply to the new Student and Child Student routes at this stage) with the intention of creating Rules on themes that apply across several routes. These thematic Rules include changes to:

  • ensure applicants only need to prove the required level of English language to the Home Office once;
  • update the majority speaking English language country list to include Malta and Ireland (where, for example a non-Irish national has a degree from an Irish university they can rely on this to show their English language ability);
  • allow applicants who have gained GCSE/A’Level or Scottish Highers in English while at school in the UK to rely on this to prove their English language ability, replacing the ability of Child Students to rely on 6 months in the UK to prove English;
  • no longer require applicants who have met the maintenance requirement on their current route to meet it again if they have been supporting themselves in the UK for more than a year;
  • allow applicants to rely on electronic bank statements;
  • allow applicants to show they meet maintenance requirements by relying on a wider range of accounts. There are also some minor and technical changes to the way time periods are calculated and our approach to accounts with financial institutions where the Home Office cannot verify financial evidence.

The list of countries whose nationals may submit reduced documentary evidence (formerly Appendix H) has been updated to add all the countries which form part of the EEA and Switzerland. The following countries have been added to the list: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Statement of Changes


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