Immigration law specialist offers guidance on how to handle Tier 4 changes in UK

In order to learn more about how the industry can best manage the Tier 4 student visa changes in the UK, ICEF Monitor sat down with immigration law specialist Mark Taylor, Executive Director of The Taylor Partnership Ltd. based in the UK.

In July of this year several changes were made in the UK, which have been having a strong impact on students, educators and agents alike.

UKBA agents are conducting interviews to determine how genuine a student is, as well as judging the English language skills of the applicants. A recent statement from home secretary Theresa May explains that this process will be extended in 2013:

“We will extend radically the UK Border Agency’s interviewing programme. Starting with the highest-risk countries, and focusing on the route to Britain that is widely abused, student visas, we will increase the number of interviews to considerably more than 100,000, starting next financial year.”

“From there, we will extend the interviewing programme further across all routes to Britain, wherever the evidence takes us. I believe this new approach will help us to root out the abuse of British visas, and improve the integrity of our immigration system.”

Under these procedures, an entry clearance officer can deny a student entry into the UK if the interview doesn’t go well, even if the student has a visa. As a result, the UKBA has created what Taylor refers to as a “culture of arbitrary decision making” with consequences such as:

  • uncertainty amongst staff managing Tier 4
  • uncertainty amongst students seeking to come to the UK
  • easy to make mistakes
  • risk of suspension / revocation of Tier 4 license

In addition, the burden of administration is an added cost to schools, which now have to raise costs to students/parents to cover those costs.

As a way to cope with all of this, Taylor offers advice regarding visa applications and explains that “the relationship between the agent and the school is paramount to success.”

In the second part of our interview, Taylor explains how Tier 4 sponsors can better manage the recruitment process. He also reveals the biggest reason for visa denials and offers sound advice on how to prepare students for visa interviews.

Taylor states,

“Schools must take a pro-active role in working in partnership with agents to make sure the students are equipped properly, and prepared for the interview with the immigration officer.”

In Taylor’s opinion, there “must be some level of credibility within the market itself, and it has to be regulated but rather than letting the UKBA regulate it, it has to be industry regulated.”

Most failed applications are as a result of poor supporting documentation (especially bank statements); most rejections are either because students didn’t have original bank statements or not enough funds in the account for the right time frame. According to regulations, “there must be sufficient funds in the bank account for 28 consecutive days within 28 days of the date of the application.”

The final segment of our interview turns the focus towards educational institutions and the actions they can take to gain insulation through compliance.

Taylor emphasises that those working with overseas students should appreciate its commercial value and use it to force change:

“This is an enormous business – worth over 55 billion pounds to the UK economy – and if you’re not handling it like one, then you’re making an enormous commercial error.”

Taylor also points out that agents can play a key role, too. For instance, if a UK-based educational provider doesn’t have a full understanding of Tier 4, then agents may be wise to advise their students to apply elsewhere, rather than risk a visa rejection.

Schools need to allocate resources adequately, have systems in place to maximise the success of an application, be prepared for UK Border Agency inspections, be thorough, and be organised. And agents shouldn’t be afraid to challenge schools on their compliance efforts. He summarises: “The ongoing co-operation between agent and school is crucial for the benefits of all concerned.”

For more background on the visa and immigration changes in the UK over the last few months, please see the following articles:



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4 thoughts on “Immigration law specialist offers guidance on how to handle Tier 4 changes in UK

  1. Based on my 12 years experience in UK education as an agent based in London and several cities of Asian markets, I do not agree 100% on reasons of refusal.

    The fact of the matter is now UKBA has given all powers back to Entry Clearance officers abroad and given them country targets that not to grant visas more than a specific numbers per country as part of coillation of UK Govt to cut numbers.

    Reasons of refusals are neither bank statements, nor others! Before visa ratio was 98% between 2009 till 2011 and now dropped to less than 10% even students secure all the 40 points of Tier4 visa requirements.

    Please go through refusal letters and correct the readers. Thanks

    • Editor on said:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with our readers. We would like to point out a recent statement from home secretary Theresa May:

      “We will extend radically the Border Agency’s interviewing programme. Starting with the highest-risk countries, and focusing on the route to Britain that is widely abused, student visas, we will increase the number of interviews to considerably more than 100,000, starting next financial year.

      “From there, we will extend the interviewing programme further across all routes to Britain, wherever the evidence takes us. I believe this new approach will help us to root out the abuse of British visas, and improve the integrity of our immigration system.”

      The home secretary said the government wanted to “strike a balance” between encouraging the lucrative market in higher education and ensuring visas are not a “backdoor route into working in Britain”.

      She added: “If you can speak English, and you can get a place on a proper course at a proper university, you can come to study in Britain.

      “There is no cap on the number of students able to come here – and there are no current plans to introduce a cap.”

      May said the coalition had been “left to deal with the consequences of more than a decade of uncontrolled, mass immigration”.

      She denounced the student visa policy inherited from Labour as a “mess” which had been “abused on an industrial scale”, with numbers of visas reaching a record 303,000 in one year.

      Read the full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20692893

  2. Pingback: The changing face of agency engagement with Australia | ICEF Monitor - Market intelligence for international student recruitmentICEF Monitor – Market intelligence for international student recruitment

  3. Pingback: British enrolment figures: looking beyond the headlines | ICEF Monitor - Market intelligence for international student recruitmentICEF Monitor – Market intelligence for international student recruitment

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