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Changes in Immigration Rules

Volume 679: debated on Thursday 10 September 2020

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a statement of changes in immigration rules.

We have made changes to the immigration rules which will introduce the student and child student routes to replace the tier 4 (general) and tier 4 (child) routes.

The changes are being introduced to give effect to the Government plan to create a global visa system which applies equally to all individuals coming to the UK to work or study, including EEA nationals, with the exception of Irish nationals.

The student and child student routes, collectively referred to as the student routes, are for both European economic area (EEA) and non-EEA nationals who wish to come to the UK for the purpose of study. The routes are the first to be introduced as part of the new points-based immigration system, and the first to be simplified in line with the recommendations of the Law Commission in its report, “Simplifying the Immigration Rules”, to which the Government responded on 25 March 2020. We have consulted the Simplification of the Immigration Rules Review Committee, which represents several external stakeholders, on the drafting of the simplified rules. The immigration rules will eventually be consolidated in the new style.

As part of the new simplified style, we are introducing new rules on English language and finance—which will only apply to the new student and child student routes at this stage—with the intention of creating rules on themes which apply across several routes. These thematic rules include changes to:

ensure applicants only need to prove the required level of English language to the Home Office once;

update the majority speaking English language country list to include Malta and Ireland (where, for example a non-Irish national has a degree from an Irish university they can rely on this to show their English language ability);

allow applicants who have gained GCSE/A-level or Scottish higher in English while at school in the UK to rely on this to prove their English language ability, replacing the ability of child students to rely on six months in the UK to prove English;

no longer require applicants who have met the maintenance requirement on their current route to meet it again if they have been supporting themselves in the UK for more than a year;

allow applicants to rely on electronic bank statements;

allow applicants to show they meet maintenance requirements by relying on a wider range of accounts.

EEA nationals are subject to transitional arrangements until the transition period ends on 31 December. An EAA or Swiss national who makes an application in the UK under the new student rules before 1 January 2021 will have their application rejected since they continue to have freedom of movement under EU law and are entitled to apply to the EU settlement scheme. EEA nationals who apply under the student rules from outside the UK will only be granted leave that commences on or after 1 January 2021, provided they meet the requirements of the route.

The list of countries whose nationals may submit reduced documentary evidence (formerly appendix H) has been updated to add all the countries which form part of the EEA and Switzerland. Appendix 15 of the immigration rules will be deleted and replaced with a new appendix ATAS which sets out requirements and conditions for the academic technology approval scheme (ATAS). EEA and Swiss nationals, and nationals of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and South Korea will be exempted from having to apply for an ATAS certificate in order to study certain sensitive subjects in the UK.

The tier 4 (general) and tier 4 (child) routes will be closed to new applications after 08.59 on 5 October 2020. References to tier 4 have either been deleted from the immigration rules or amended where appropriate to reflect the new student and child student rules. All references to students or child students in the new rules must be read as including references to people who currently hold leave as tier 4 migrants, including in part 9, appendix AR and appendix W. All student and child student applications, including dependant of a student applications, which are made at or after 09.00 on 5 October 2020 will be decided in accordance with the new student rules, even where they are accompanied by a confirmation of acceptance for studies which was issued under the tier 4 rules and policy in place before 09.00 on 5 October.