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Entry Clearances: Overseas Students

Volume 495: debated on Monday 29 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultation his Department carried out on proposals affecting student visas before the recent changes to the regulations were made. (280743)

Tier 4, the student tier of the Points Based System (PBS), was introduced on 31 March 2009 and was the culmination of the extensive changes to the immigration system first announced in 2004. Before introducing these changes, we consulted widely and in July 2005 published a consultation document: "Selective Admission: Making Migration Work for Britain"; this consultation ran for an extended period until November 2005.

The Joint Education Taskforce (JET) is the UK Border Agency's principal mechanism for consultation with the education sector. The JET was also established in 2005 and comprises senior figures and representative bodies from all parts of the education sector and it and its sub-groups continue to meet on a regular basis. In July 2008 we published "Students under the Points Based System—(Tier 4) Statement of Intent". While this was not a further consultation, we welcomed comments from stakeholders affected by the changes proposed which were incorporated where appropriate. Both documents are available in the House Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are employed to conduct sponsor inspections under the Tier 4 regulations on immigration; and what training has been provided by his Department for such post-holders. (281394)

[holding answer 19 June 2009]: The UK Border Agency currently employs 125 staff nationally to conduct visits to sponsors and prospective sponsors under the Points Based System which includes Tier 4.

All visiting staff receive ongoing training and development on and off the job to enable them to carry out their duties in a professional and effective manner.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether guidance issued by his Department on Tier 4 immigration regulations is publicly available. (281596)

[holding answer 22 June 2009]: Policy guidance on Tier 4 policy, which expands on the immigration rules provides the evidential requirements a migrant must meet is published, as is the Points Based Sponsor guidance which provides the evidential requirements a sponsor must meet. These documents are on the UK Border Agency website.

The Tier 4 caseworking instructions, which provide step by step process instructions to assessing officers as to how to physically consider an application, are currently being considered for publication.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether student visa applications made before 31 March 2009 are determined in accordance with the immigration rules in force at that time. (281597)

[holding answer 22 June 2009]: Yes. Student visa applications submitted prior to 31 March 2009 are determined under the immigration rules in force at that time.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effect on visa application rates of the requirement under the Tier 4 rules on immigration for certified translations of all documents. (281598)

[holding answer 22 June 2009]: The requirement for certified translations of all documents does not appear so far to have had a significant effect on application rates. However, as Tier 4 of the Points Based System was only introduced on 31 March 2009, it is too early to draw any definitive conclusions.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason students under Tier 4 of the points-based immigration system may not undertake a paid or unpaid work experience or internship as part of their course of study. (282215)

Students under Tier 4 of the Points Based System may undertake a work placement as part of their course, as long as it is an assessed part of the course and the work placement does not equate to more than 50 per cent. of the length of the course in the United Kingdom. In addition, students can undertake a work placement where their course includes a legal (statutory) requirement for this.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the new online system for the registration of overseas students to be in operation. (282233)

[holding answer 25 June 2009]: The next stage of the online system for the registration of overseas students will be launched in autumn 2009. The roll-out of the new system will be complete by the end of March 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has made an assessment of the effects on the integration of non-EU domiciled students of requiring academic institutions to register their attendance. (282234)

All academic institutions have their own procedures in place to be able to monitor their students' attendance both to ensure their continued progress on a course but also to fulfil their duty of care. The reporting requirements placed on institutions as part of their sponsor duties under Tier 4 are sufficiently robust to ensure that students who are no longer attending are reported to the UK Border Agency, while also being sufficiently flexible to allow for the different ways in which institutions monitor student attendance.