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.
There are restrictions on the work that students can do during their studies:
- 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 for immigration advice.
Students must remain registered full time at LSE
Students who do not attend and are reported will have their visa cancelled by the UK Border Agency and have to leave the UK.
Students who interrupt their studies or withdraw, and students who have to take re-sit exams will be reported by LSE to the UK Border Agency and their visa will be curtailed so they must leave the UK
Students who “overstay” (stay in the UK after their visa has expired) for over 28 days cannot apply for a new visa inside the UK. If they overstay beyond 90 days they will face a time bar and will not be able to return to the UK for 12 months. Students can become overstayers if their Tier 4 application is refused or returned as “invalid”. If you meet any students in this situation, please refer to ISIS as soon as possible.
Non-Tier 4 students
Students who are studying in the UK with different immigration permission (for example as a “dependant”) are not affected by the Tier 4 rules and LSE does not have reporting responsibilities for non-Tier 4 students.
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-in service in Michaelmas and Lent Term 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 J.Allen2@lse.ac.uk.
The Students’ Union no longer advises on immigration.