Tier 4 of the UK Border Agency Points Based System
The immigration rules have changed many times over the last few years. The government introduced a Points Based System (PBS) for immigration with 5 “tiers” (categories). Students are under Tier 4. PBS has an impact on the role of the LSE and on what students are able to do while in the UK as a student.
LSE’s role and responsibilities
The LSE has a licence to “sponsor” students. This licence comes with responsibilities including record keeping and a responsibility to report students who do not attend / interrupt / withdraw from LSE. This means it is important that staff keep attendance records up to date. Registry staff have responsibility for reporting to UK Border Agency and DTs simply need to continue with current procedures on dealing with students who do not attend or are choosing to interrupt or withdraw from their studies. The majority of international students at LSE have a Tier 4 visa so any academic decision could have an impact on their immigration status in the UK.
Students need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. This is a virtual number and replaces all paper letters and visa letters. Students may still request letters from staff to “help” with their visa application but students should be referred for immigration advice. Staff may be contacted by registry staff for information but it is unlikely that you will need to provide letters for students.
Tier 4 students are subject to employment restrictions while they are in the UK, and these restrictions apply to both paid and unpaid work. Tier 4 students:
- work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time (this includes the dissertation period for Master’s students);
- can work full time in the vacations;
- cannot be self-employed;
- cannot take on a full time permanent contract.
The consequences of breaking the rules are very serious both for students and for the School. Please refer any students with questions about working to ISIS for immigration advice. See section bellow "Immigration advice for international students" for contact details.
If you meet any student in this situation, please refer them to ISIS as soon as possible. See section bellow "Immigration advice for international students" for contact details.
Students must remain registered full time at LSE.
Students who do not meet their attendance obligations are reported to the Home Office by the Registry and will have their visa curtailed as a result.
Students who interrupt, defer or or withdraw from their studies will also be reported to the Home Office and will have their visa curtailed. Students who need to retake exams may also find that their visa is affected.
People who remain in the UK after their visa has expired (without submitting a new visa application) are known as "overstayers". Overstaying can have very serious consequences for the student, and for the School if the student continues to study while they do not have immigration permission to be in the UK. Students can also become overstayers if their visa application is refused, or rejected as invalid.
Non-Tier 4 students
Students who are studying in the UK with different immigration permission (for example as a dependent of a PBS migrant or as a Student Visitor) are not affected by the Tier 4 rules and the LSE does not have the same responsibility to report them to the Home Office. However, it is important that all non-EEA/Swiss students at the LSE have immigration permission that allows them to study.
Immigration advice for international students
Students in the UK with student immigration permission may ask for advice about extending their student visa in the UK or about the implications on their visa if they change their study pattern or choose to interrupt their studies or have to re-sit exams. It is important that students obtain specialist advice from trained advisers before they make a decision on their studies. The rules changed in April 2012 and there is a cap of five years that a student can study at degree level in the UK as a Tier 4 student. It is vitally important, therefore, that students receive advice on their options to ensure that they are able to return to complete their studies in the future.
At LSE, students can seek advice on Tier 4 and other student immigration rules, including the rules on working, from the International Student Immigration Service – ISIS – in the Student Services Centre (SSC). Academic advisers and departmental tutors can also refer students to the ISIS section of the SSC website.
ISIS runs a daily drop n service in Michaelmas and Lent terms in the SSC reception from 1.30pm to 2.30pm. Drop in is on Tuesdays and Thursdays the rest of the year. ISIS can also arrange individual appointments where necessary. Students can also email via the webform on the ISIS website (there is a link from the menu on the main page). Academic advisers and departmental tutors can contact ISIS staff at firstname.lastname@example.org are advised to write “staff” in the subject of the message. If a case is urgent, you may call the manager of ISIS on 0207849 4927 or email email@example.com.
The Students’ Union no longer advises on immigration.