Category Archives: UK Student Visa

Translation Website Launched for International Student Visa Applications Makes Buying Translations Easier And Cheaper For Students

Established translation company Talking Heads® has launched the UK’s first website designed specifically for students to get their visa applications translated.

At, students can get a price for their documents (including a hefty student discount), upload their documents and pay – all online. There is even information in different languages to help the process go smoothly.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs reports that in the 2009-10 academic year, over 405,000 international students were studying in UK universities, an increase of 10% on the previous year.

Talking Heads® has been working with a variety of Universities across the UK for a number of years and identified that these students require excellent support when buying translations, as it is such a critical part of applying to the UKBA (UK Border Agency) for their study visa.

Partner at Talking Heads® and creator of translatemydoc, Laurianne Enos, says “We understand that international students are quite rightly concerned that they are following the correct procedures at this crucial time of applying for their visa. We provide this essential hands-on support but we’ve also made it much easier to do the practical stuff like uploading documents and paying online at We’re also happy to support the international student community in the UK by offering a healthy discount.

The development team behind have taken time to make sure that they’ve really understood what it feels like to be a student in this position and created the website with them in mind. The customer service team is always at the end of the phone and email too.”

Laurianne adds, “We are looking forward to working closely with International Student and Welfare offices to support the University staff also.”

This post was submitted by Laurianne.

Updated Secure English Language Test Providers

For Tiers 1, 2, 4 and spouses and partners. When all of the transitional arrangements have expired, this new list will replace all existing lists of English language test providers.

Transitional arrangements

For Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system tests that have been booked or taken with the existing lists of providers can be used in applications as long as they are received by the UK Border Agency on or before 17 May 2011. From 18 May 2011 only tests taken with providers on the new list can be used as part of applications for Tier 1 and Tier 2.

For those applying as a spouse or partner, you may use a test with an existing provider in an application received on or before the 17 July 2011. From 18 July 2011 all applications must be submitted with evidence from a provider on the new list published on the 6 April.

There are no transitional arrangements for Tier 4 of the points-based system as the current list of providers is being expanded. A test can therefore be taken with any provider on the new list from 6 April 2011 and submitted as part of an application.

Approved Secure English Language Test Providers April 2011 (pdf)

Student Visa Cuts – 8 facts you should know

The UK education industry has taken quite a beating lately. Set against a backdrop of a shrinking economy and budget cuts of up to 40%, it is no wonder there will be job losses in the education sector and the wider public sector. We already know that 73 jobs are to go at East Durham College and even Cambridge University is not immune, with staff asked to consider voluntary redundancy. Clearly, education providers are feeling squeezed already and with the UK Coalition considering restricting the numbers of international students, here are eight key facts that should also be remembered. I invite anyone in support of the drastic reduction in student migrants to also consider the following facts in relation to their argument.

1.      Vital part of Economy: Worth some £40 billion, the export of education and training is the second largest contributor to the UK economy.

2.      Benefit the Wider Economy: For every £1 in income generated by education providers, 50p is generated in other industries.

3.      Subsidise Home Students: International student migrants from non-EEA countries provide 37% of total fee revenue for universities alone.

4.      Cultural Value: Bringing knowledge of different cultures to the UK benefits businesses wishing to expand overseas, as well as wider society.

5.      GDP Benefits: Those non-EEA international student migrants who graduate and remain in the UK contribute £1 billion every year to UK GDP.

6.      Fiscal Benefits: Those non-EEA international student migrants who graduate and remain in the UK contribute more than £100 million a year in fiscal benefits.

7.      Foreign Graduates not a Threat: The most recent independent research into the Tier 1 Post-Study Work category of the Points Based System clearly shows that non-EEA students who graduate and remain in the UK do not displace British citizens from jobs.

8.      Increase Competitiveness: In the US it has been found that a 6% rise in patents per capita can be attributed to a rise of 1% in the proportion of student migrant graduates. It is likely a similar relationship exists in the UK.

Reducing Net Migration Without Targetting Students

With international students contributing so much to the UK economy and in this time of austerity, it is vital that the £10 billion plus per year they contribute is continued. Further, UK education is a top five UK export and respected around the world. If student visas are the wrong target for cuts, what instead can be done to achieve the Coalition’s aim of drastically reducing net migration whilst retaining the benefits that international student migration brings?

Key proposals on reducing net migration and settlement include:

  • Making it much more difficult to transfer from temporary to permanent migrant status
  • Demanding higher levels of skills, qualifications and English language requirements for skilled workers, possibly including a minimum pay limit
  • Restricting numbers entering via the family route and increasing requirements on those entrants, particularly in English language proficiency, assessed through a secure test
  • Classifying post-study work as ‘not leading to settlement’
  • Banning students on shorter courses from working,  or allowing unpaid work (internships) only
  • Considering removing the right to bring dependants for students on shorter courses, or removing the right of dependants to work.

To reduce abuse of the visa system:

  • Assessing the potential risk posed by nationals from different countries. Those posing the lowest risk, such as Japan, would move to visa-waiver status, with restrictions placed on students on lower-level courses from the highest-risk nations.
  • Creating an overarching new accrediting body for private sector colleges and remove the lowest-quality ones from the Register of Sponsors so they cannot bring in students
  • Requiring students to pay fees in advance, in full for courses up to 6 months and two-thirds of first year fees for longer courses.

English UK suggests that after the current tier 4 student visa review is complete, there should be no further changes to the system for at least one year. Following, future amendments should only be made twice yearly. There has been near-constant change in the points-based system since its introduction which has led to great confusion and anxiety, surely damaging the UK’s attractiveness as a study destination.

“There is no need for drastic action on student visas,” said Tony Millns, chief executive of English UK.  “The economic situation has already made the UK less attractive to migrants, and the new system is considerably tougher at all points than it was prior to 2009.  Students do not contribute significantly to net migration or settlement, and they are the wrong target for cuts in UK visas.”

English UK argues strongly that students contribute little to net migration (Home Office research found they were the likeliest group of migrants to return home at the end of their visa period) and are a vital contributor to the UK economy and the financial health of the university sector.

Moreover, students contribute little to net migration due to their relatively fast turnover: new entrants are balanced out by students completing their courses and leaving the country.

Student Visas are the Wrong Target for Cuts

English UK argues that targeting student visas would not help the Government to reduce net migration and would in fact seriously damage the UK’s education sector and wider economy.

English UK have put forward six solid reasons in opposition to the Migration Advisory Committee’s December recommendations.

1.       The Government’s aim of reducing net migration is in fact the wrong target. Instead, government should be trying to reduce permanent not temporary migration, thus reducing the pressure on public services. This can partly be achieved by making it much harder to switch from a temporary to permanent immigration category.

2.       The Migrant Journey, a Home Office commissioned report published 6 September 2010, shows that of all the migrants that come to the UK, international students are the least likely to permanently settle.  In 2004, of the 186,500 successful UK student visa applicants, only 5,568 were later granted the right to settle. That’s less than 3%. By far the biggest category of migrant gaining permanent settlement were those coming with family or work visas, accounting for a whopping 84% of all those granted the right to settle in 2004.

3.       International students are by definition temporary migrants not permanent migrants. This is because in any given year, the number of international students who finish their course and leave the UK is near equilibrium with those student migrants entering the country. The Migrant Journey goes on to show that in 2004, nearly 3 of every 5 international students had left the UK within two years. Those who were still in the UK had remained lawfully, extending their visas to continue their studies, found work in highly-skilled or shortage occupation positions or got married to a British national. The report concludes: “It seems plausible that the vast majority of migrants granted non-visit visas in 2004 have left the UK”.

4.       International students are worth their weight in gold. Contributing over £10billion a year to the UK economy on course fees and living costs, UK education is a top five export. International student spending will be a vital contribution to the UK’s economic recovery. Bolstered by an increasingly favourable exchange rate over the past two years, the UK has become more attractive for international students.

5.       A cap would target the wrong students. Those students who are coming to study courses of more than one year typically follow international foundation programmes leading to degree courses. In fact, UK universities recruit as much as nearly 50% of their international students from those already in the UK on foundation programmes.  Fees generated from international students are an ever increasingly important source of income for UK universities, allowing them to keep faculties open and preserving choice for domestic students too. There is a real fear that a student visa cap could see some universities face insolvency as early as 2013.

6.       Net migration and the performance of the UK economy are correlated. Throughout most of the 1970s, UK net migration was negative and remained so into the early 1980s. The late 80s saw the “Big Bang” in the City of London, resulting in many financial services companies moving to the capital. Net migration dropped again following the early 1990s recession and has continued to rise consistently during the UK’s economic recovery from 1996 to 2008. The point? Net migration naturally drops during periods of economic crises, and we are certainly in one now.  Even on the current government’s most optimistic forecasts, UK economic growth over the next 4 years will lag behind that of most other major countries, and especially that of fast-developing nations like Brazil, China and India.  The UK will simply be a much less appealing destination for migrants – except perhaps exactly the international students we need, who are attracted by the UK’s reputation for quality in education.

“We will be asking the Government to take note of all of these points in the review of student visas,” said Mr Millns.

The Extended Student Visitor Visa – Frequently Asked Questions

Student Visitor Visa – what is it?

The Student Visitor Visa (SVV) is for students taking a short course of study in the UK for six months or less. As the name suggests, it falls under the visitor visa category rather than the main student visa category (Tier 4). Like a visit visa, the SVV does not allow students to undertake any employment or bring dependants.

Under 18s/Over 18s

The SVV is only available to students over 18. Students under 18 wishing to come to the UK to undertake a course of study will have to apply as a general visitor.

How to Apply?

Students applying for a SVV need to use VAF1D. Under 18s have to use VAF1A.

In some countries students can also apply on-line.


The cost of a SVV is currently £70.

Extended Student Visitor Visa

In December 2010 Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, announced a new Extended Student Visitor Visa (ESVV) for English language students.

The ESVV will only be available to students who want to study an English language course for between six and eleven months. The visa will be valid for 11 months. Students enrolling on other courses or English Plus courses will not qualify for the ESVV.

Students will need to show that their course is longer than 6 months. The ESVV will cost £70 and will be available to students applying from 10 January 2011.

How much will the Extended Student Visitor visa cost?

The cost for an Extended Student Visitor visa is the same as the cost for a 6 month Student Visitor visa, £70.

Who can apply for the Extended Student Visitor visa?

Students of all nationalities (including non-visa nationals) who are planning to come to the UK to study an English language course between 6 and 11 months long.

What courses can be studied under the Extended Student Visitor visa?

Courses which only teach English as a foreign language. Mixed courses with a portion of time spent learning English will not qualify.

What level of English language course will this extended student visitor visa apply to?

Students can study English language courses at any level.

What do you define as an ‘English language course only’?

Where 100% of the syllabus and teaching is English language.

Is this a replacement for the current 6 month Student Visitor route?

No. The Student Visitor route will remain in place. This is a concession to allow those coming to study English language courses only to be able to study on courses for longer than 6 months and no more than 11 months.

How much leave will I be given if I am studying for longer than 6 months?

You will be granted leave for 11 months.

Can I still study non-English language courses if I come to the UK as a 6 month student visitor?

Yes. The requirements for the 6 month Student Visitor route remain the same.

Which visa application form do I use to apply?

You must use the application form VAF 1D, which is available on the Visa Services website.

How do I make an online application?

Online applications for the extended student visitor visa will only be available from 10 January 2011. After accessing Visa4UK via the Visa Services website and entering your email and password details you will be taken to the ‘Your Visa Requirements’ screen.

You will then need to:

  • select your ‘Current Location’ and ‘Country of Nationality’
  • select “Visit” for the ‘Purpose of Application’
  • select “(General) Student visitor, to study English Language”

You will then be taken through the appropriate Visit VAF 1 to complete the remaining information for your application.

Where can I find more information on what evidence I need to provide if I wish to apply for an Extended Student Visitor visa?

Further information about applying for an Extended Student Visitor visa can be found at

Can I transfer to another course within the time I am studying?

Yes. You may move to another English language course e.g. if you progress faster than expected, provided you do not stay in the UK for longer than your visa states. You must not move onto a course of study in any subject other than English language.

Can I transfer to an English language course offered by another education provider during the time I am studying?

Yes, provided the other English language school provider holds a Tier 4 sponsor licence or is accredited by a UK Border Agency-approved accreditation body, and is prepared to enrol you onto their course.

Can I transfer to another type of course once my course is completed?

No. The Extended Student Visitor visa does not allow students to transfer to another UK course once they have completed their English language course. If you wish to continue studying in the UK you will need to return to your home country and re-apply under the correct route.

Can I work while I am studying under an Extended Student Visitor visa?

No. You cannot take up any employment if you are here on any type of student visitor visa.

Can I bring my dependants to the UK while I am studying on an Extended Student Visitor visa?

No. The Extended Student Visitor visa does not allow you to bring your dependants to the UK. If you wish your dependants to accompany you, they must apply for a visa in their own right.

I don’t need a visa to attend a course up to six months. Will I need to apply for a visa if I want to stay longer?


Will there be an appeals process for students whose applications for an Extended

Student Visitor visa are refused?

No. The appeal rights are the same as the Student Visitor route and will not attract a full right of appeal.

I am a non-visa national currently in the UK as a student visitor studying English language with 6 months leave to remain. Can I apply for an extension (or the Extended Student Visitor visa) in the UK before my 6 month leave expires?

No, you cannot extend a student visitor visa and you can only apply for the Extended Student Visitor visa outside of the UK.

Proposed New Tier 4 System – A New Reality for International Students?

New system for international students that might operate in future – shortly after 31 January 2011. BE PREPARED!!!

It is no longer news that the UK government intends to reduce annual net migration to the UK to sustainable levels, in the tens of thousands a year. Now, it expects the student route to make its contribution towards reducing net migration to the UK. The government’s policy aim is to ensure that only genuine students who are committed to their academic study come to the UK, with a presumption that upon completion they will leave promptly. UKBA has now set out consultation sets out their proposals for achieving this aim.

The consultation is now seeking your views. DO NOT HESITATE!


This consultation will run until 31 January 2011. UKBA intend to announce their response and final decisions as soon as possible thereafter.

Below is the summary of UKBA’s proposals for the new system for international students:


UKBA’s proposal:
• Restrict Tier 4 largely to degree-level courses and child students.
Only Highly Trusted Sponsors will be permitted to offer courses below degree level to adults (i.e. NQF 3, 4 and 5 / SCQF 6, 7 and 8).
Lower level courses of under six months’ duration will continue to be offered outside the PBS, through the student visitor route.

• They propose no tightening of the Tier 4 (Child) route; this is a relatively small part of the Tier 4 composition and one which poses UKBA least risk


* NQF 3, 4 & 5 – Highly Trusted Sponsor only

* NQF 6 (Degree Level and above) courses + – any sponsor (A or B rating)


UKBA’s proposal:
• Raise the Tier 4 language bar as a key indicator of fitness to complete a higher level course.
All Tier 4 (General) applicants including degree level and English language students will be subject to a secure English language test showing competence at level B2.

Summary: All courses levels: SELT required, minimum B2 level


UKBA’s proposal:
• Students wanting to remain in the UK after their initial course to extend their studies will have to show clear evidence of academic progression to a higher level.
They are also considering whether such students should be required to leave the UK and re-apply from overseas.

* They propose to close the Tier 1 Post Study Work route .


* Students must return home and apply for entry overseas.

* Students must demonstrate intention to study at a higher level on return.

* Tier 1 Post Study Work closed.

* Graduates with a job offer can apply under Tier 2 – The consultation says ‘UKBA have recently facilitated this process by allowing employers to not carry out the Tier 2 Resident Labour Market Test in respect of foreign graduates recruited in the UK through the milkround. This will continue.’ My question is how true is this statement? Please comment.

Excerpts from the consultation on Tier 1 Post-Study Work:
UKBA says the student route is a temporary migration route, with students expected to leave on completion of their studies.
UKBA says they are concerned that the Post Study Work route confuses this concept.
UKBA says The Higher Education Careers Services Unit published their annual report in November 2010 which showed that graduate unemployment has risen to its highest level for 17 years and they concluded that there is a risk that the Post Study Work route is adding to this problem.
UKBA believe that a student’s primary motivation for coming to the UK should be the prospect of obtaining a world class education here, not of being able to work afterwards.
Following from all of the above UKBA therefore propose to close the Tier 1 Post Study Work route.


UKBA’s proposal – 4 changes proposed as below:
• Students should only be allowed to work on campus during the week and for any external employer at weekends and during vacation periods.

• Where a course includes a work placement, raise the minimum ratio of study to work placement from 50:50 to 66:33 so that these types of courses become less attractive to people using them as a way to gain access to the UK employment market.

• Remove permission to work for all dependants of Tier 4 students, except where they qualify in their own right under Tier 1 or Tier 2 of the PBS.

• Only those Tier 4 students studying for more than 12 months to be allowed to bring their dependants to the UK.

Tier 4 (General) All course levels:

* On-campus working only during the week

* Any employment at weekends and during vacation

* Study to work placement ratio – 66:33

Tier 4 (Dependants) All course levels:

* Course less than 12 months long – no dependants

* Course longer than 12 months – dependants allowed but no permission to work (unless qualify under Tier 1 or Tier 2


UKBA’s proposal:
• Impose different requirements as regards evidence of maintenance and previous qualifications in order to lighten the burden on lower risk students.


* Lower risk students can self-declare that they can meet the maintenance requirement & hold specified qualifications.

* Higher risk students must provide original documents as now to demonstrate maintenance & previous qualifications.

* Proposal to differentiate according to sponsor rating i.e Highly Trusted Sponsor Vs A or B rating sponsor.


UKBA’s proposal:
• Tighten the accreditation regime, working with departments responsible for education across the UK to ensure the quality of education provision within private institutions of further and higher education for Tier 4 purposes.


* UK Border Agency and UK education departments to ensure quality of education provision within private institutions of further and higher education.


The consultation document is available on the UK Border Agency website and responses may be returned by completing the online survey, which can be accessed via the UK Border Agency website, at:

Responses can also be posted, using the template available on the UK Border Agency website to:
Student Consultation
1st Floor, Green Park House
29 Wellesley Road

In addition, responses can be emailed to: [email=””][/email]
The closing date for responses is 31 January 2011.


Concerned Tier 4 forum member (se8)

This post was submitted by Pappi.

Applicants of English Language Courses Remain Banned in Bangladesh

Following Damien Green’s visit to Bangladesh, the ban on Bangladeshi UK visa applicants was partially lifted on 22 July 2010, with those applying for foundation degrees, Bachelor programmes and post-graduate courses able to finally arrange a visa application appointment. The ban on all Child Student visa applicants was also lifted.

On 12 August 2010, the UK Border Agency lifted the ban on all courses expect English language. The suspension of applications for those wishing to join English language courses will remain under close review by the Border Agency.

Tier 4 applicants are required to make an appointment at a visa application centre in order to submit their Tier 4 visa applications. Appointments are free of charge. Guidance on how to schedule an appointment is available on the website:

On 12 August, the UK Border Agency will introduce a secure English language test requirement for Tier 4 (General Student) visas worldwide. Applicants who are studying courses below degree level, excluding a foundation degree and an English language course, need to pass a secure English language test. This test must be taken with a UK Border Agency-approved provider before the applicant applies for a CAS from the sponsor.

All applicants who make Tier 4 (General Student) visa applications to study the above courses from 12 August and using a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) issued from this date will need to pass a new secure English language test.

It is important that applicants follow the current Tier 4 guidance carefully, complete their applications fully and submit the correct supporting documents. There have been some significant changes to the Tier 4 policy in 2010. Tier 4 guidance and application forms are available to customers free of charge.

If applicants submit fraudulent documents or false information, their visa applications will be refused. They also face an automatic ban on entry to the UK for the next 10 years for any category of visa.

Applicants may be requested to attend an interview with the UK Border Agency as part of the visa application process.

Further information

1. The temporary suspension of new Tier 4 applications was implemented in Bangladesh on 1 February 2010.

2. With effect from 22 July, the temporary suspension is lifted for the following courses: foundation degrees (including the Scottish HND in (3) below), degree and postgraduate courses only. On 12 August the suspension will be lifted for other NQF 5 equivalent courses and below. The suspension will remain in place for English language courses.

3. A foundation degree means a programme of study which leads to a qualification awarded by a UK higher education institution with degree awarding powers, which is at a minimum of level 5 on the revised National Qualifications Framework (NQF), or level 8 on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework. Further information about NQF levels is available at:

4. Tier 4 (General Student) visas are for people coming to the United Kingdom for their post-16 education. Tier 4 (Child Student) visas are for children between the ages of 4 and 17 to come to the UK. Those aged between 4 and 15 may only be educated at independent fee-paying schools. Applicants aged 16-17 years studying on courses at NQF level 3 or above have a choice of making an application either in the Tier 4 General Student category or the Tier 4 Child Student category.

5. Tier 4 of the points based system was reviewed earlier in 2010 and a number of significant changes have been introduced. The main changes are as follows:

The electronic CAS has replaced the Visa Letter.

Students who are studying below degree level, excluding foundation degrees, are permitted to work a maximum of 10 hours per week (a reduction from 20 hours). Their dependents are not permitted to work unless they qualify in their own right under the points based system.

Students who are studying a course of 6 months or less are not permitted to bring their dependents with them.

A new “highly trusted sponsor” designation has been introduced for education providers that can offer courses at National Qualification Framework level 3 and Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 6 and below.

To study courses below NQF level 6, students need to be competent in English language to level B1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Until now, it has been the education provider’s responsibility to test this.

6. The published Tier 4 guidance is available free of charge at:

7. Tier 4 visa application forms (VAF 9 and appendix 8 for General Students and appendix 9 for Child Students) are available free of charge at:

8. Applicants are required to demonstrate that they are proficient to at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening. Applicants who are intending to study a foundation degree or at degree level (NQF level 6) and above, or an English language course, are not required to take a secure English language test before applying for a visa. Education providers may however, request students to provide evidence of English language proficiency to ensure they are capable of following the course for which they have applied.

This post was submitted by Heron.

Immediate Changes to Process of Switching Sponsor Introduced

From 23 July 2010, existing Tier 4 students who want to change to a sponsor with a Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) licence will be able to begin their new course of study, at their own risk, while they are waiting for the UK Border Agency to make a decision on their application to change sponsor.

Students applying to change to an A- or B-rated sponsor are not permitted to begin their new course of study until they receive a positive decision from the UKBA on their application to change sponsor. To avoid unnecessary delays in beginning a course, the UKBA have put processes in place to prioritise applications made by students who want to change to A- or B-rated sponsors.

Ban on Bangladeshi Visa Applications to be Lifted Soon

Alan Duncan, the Conservative Minister of State for International Development has announced that the Bangladeshi visa ban is to be lifted soon, during a visit to the country.

Mr Duncan described the process of solving the problems that led to the UK student visa ban as being soon to be resolved during a meeting with Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Tier 4 (General) Student Visa ban first came into place in January 2010 and has caused much angst amongst Bangladeshi students. Mr Duncan is the first MP from the UK’s Conservative-Liberal coalition government and has stressed his Government’s desire to increase their ties with Bangladesh in a range of areas. Poverty reduction was a key policy for Mr Duncan, as well as development of Bangladesh in general and would be a focus of his government’s term.

Various challenges that Bangladesh now faces were discussed during the meeting: climate change, education, health, poverty reduction, sanitation and corruption. Dr Dipu Moni claims Bangladesh will be the most affected country of climate change and has tried to secure British help.
She apprised the British minister about various steps taken by the Bangladesh government for alleviating poverty and improvement of education and health sectors.

Referring to the government’s efforts to make the Anti- Corruption Commission more affective, she said the present government has been able to control corruption to a great extent.

Bangladesh’s foreign minister congratulated the new UK government on winning the election and expressed hope that ties between Dhaka and London would be strengthened in the coming days, months and years.