In the ever-evolving landscape of UK immigration policies, staying abreast of changes is crucial. Fortunately, Synergy Immigration Solutions is dedicated to helping you navigate the constant and confusing changes taking place. With our comprehensive understanding of the latest updates and the implications these have for future students, workers and families intending to move to the UK, we’re ready to help every individual in need with their UK visa applications and understand the changes taking place.
The UK is a popular destination for students from all over the world with some of the oldest and most renowned educational institutes in the world. But in 2024, students will face changes to the UK Student visa regulations that they should be aware of before they apply to come to the UK.
Let’s look at what the current regulations are, what changes are being made in 2024 and how we can help you understand and deal with the changes to the immigration system in the UK.
Travel Regulations for UK Student Visas
After applying for a Student visa for the UK, you will have your passport sent back to you within 8 weeks, with a vignette sticker that allows you to enter the UK to then pick up your biometric residence permit (BRP) at either a local Post Office or from your Student visa sponsor. If your Student visa has been refused, you’ll receive your passport back and a letter explaining why the Home Office came to their decision and informing you of your right to appeal.
Once in the UK, international students should make themselves aware of their course’s official term dates to ensure they do not travel or work without permission during term time. ‘Outside of term time’ refers to official course holidays (not including reading week, for example) as well as periods without education between the end of one year’s study and the start of the next.
International students need to demonstrate their commitment to their course, and as such may not travel during term time without a permission letter from their course supervisor explaining the reason for travelling, such as a school trip, or the need to attend a funeral in another country.
BRPs do not grant permission to travel with the same rights as a UK citizen or permanent resident, so when travelling abroad, international students must obtain any necessary visas according to the nationality of their passport, including to EU countries such as Ireland.
Work Regulations for UK Student Visas
Just as international students cannot travel during term time, there are also restrictions on when and where they can work while studying in the UK.
During term time, international students:
- who are studying below degree level may not work more than 10 hours per week
- who are studying at degree level or above may not work more than 20 hours per week
Outside of term time, international students may work full time; full-time for under 18s is no more than 40 hours a week and 8 hours per day, while for over 18s, it’s 48 hours per week. Getting caught working more hours than you’re permitted can result in your visa being withdrawn, so it’s important you know your work restrictions before starting any part-time jobs.
International students also face restrictions on what jobs they can do while in the UK.
International students may not:
- Have permanent, full-time positions
- Be self-employed or freelance
- Own a business
- Work as professional sportspeople, including sports coaches
- Work as entertainers, including actors, musicians, dancers and performers, unless they are dance, drama or music students at university level and on work placements.
- Work as doctors or dentists in training
International students will also pay relevant taxes in the UK which will be automatically taken from their payslips. If they have overpaid tax, they can apply for a refund before leaving the UK.
New Immigration Changes in 2024
Towards the end of 2023, the government announced some plans to change rules regarding certain visas to try to curb the number of immigrants coming to the UK as net immigration was higher than they’d expected. While such plans are likely an attempt to appeal to voters in post-Brexit Britain with an election expected in 2024, they will have real consequences for workers and students, and their families wishing to come to the UK.
As of 1 January 2024, only students studying postgraduate research programmes for longer than 9 months may bring their family members with them. Family members only include partners and children. Postgraduate research programmes are research-based master’s or doctorates such as a PhD, and the student must be government-sponsored.
Students already in the UK with their families will not be affected by the changes, but those wishing to come to the UK in 2024 will have to adhere to the new regulations.
There are many types of work visas available for foreign workers to come to the UK for work, and the government intends to introduce plans affecting several of them from Spring 2024. One of the most common work visas is the Skilled Worker visa, previously known as the Tier 2 visa, for which every applicant needs a job offer from a valid sponsor for a job on the list of eligible occupations and to meet the minimum salary requirements for that job.
Currently, to meet the salary requirement, Skilled Workers must be paid the higher of:
- £26,200 per year
- £10.75 per hour
- the ‘going rate’ for the type of work they’ll be doing
The rate will change in April 2024 to a minimum of £38,700, except for health and care workers or some educational workers, although the minimum hourly rate has not been made clear. Jobs on the eligible occupations list are also likely to change in April.
The Impact of the UK Government’s Visa Changes
Changes being made to the immigration system not only make things difficult for those considering applying for visas for the UK, but they also make people who are already in the UK on certain visas feel uneasy. New changes will not affect foreign nationals already in the UK, however, if they apply to extend their visa or switch from a Student visa to a work permit, it may make things more complicated as they must meet new requirements.
Currently, students can apply to extend or renew their visas if they are applying to further their career opportunities by studying at a higher level, or equivalent level if they can prove it will help their career advancement. However, they will need to meet the new terms regarding having their dependents with them if they wish to stay in the UK.
Moreover, students who came to study in the UK with the intention of switching to a Skilled Worker visa will have to meet the new regulations including the staggering £12,500 minimum wage increase. This may put employers off employing international workers as they will have to increase their employees’ salaries significantly.
However, it is still entirely possible to continue living, working and studying in the UK if you wish.
How We Can Support You
Synergy Immigration Solutions was established in 2020 to help foreign nationals navigate the complex landscape of immigration and visa processes in the UK. Our team of immigration experts has helped thousands of people apply for and switch their visas, including collecting the relevant documents, including financial records and translations, and paying the necessary application and IHS fees.
When changes are being made regularly due to instability in the government and policies are introduced to appeal to voters, it can be extremely difficult to stay on top of all of the changes yourself and ensure your visa application is correct. Synergy Immigration Solutions is here to help individuals understand the visa process and stay up to date with the new relevant information that may affect their visa applications. From Work Visas to Family Visas and Student Visas, we’ve got the expertise to help you.
Get Visa Assistance from Synergy Immigration Solutions
If you need help with your current or future UK visa, contact Synergy Immigration Solutions today for support.