The UK government has announced major changes to the visa rules for non-European Union students which are aimed at cracking down on those who abuse the immigration system.

They also address issues that have emerged whereby it is deemed to be ‘too easy’ for overseas students to get work and stay on in the UK after graduating.

students UK

The new rules will stop new students at publicly funded colleges from working, bringing them in line with those at private colleges from August 2015. Previously they had been able to work for up to 10 hours a week.

Under the changes, international students will be able to study a new course at the same level but only where there’s a link to their previous course or the university confirms that this supports their career aspirations. There will be credibility interviews and sanctions against universities who abuse this rule.

There will be a complete ban on college students from extending their Tier 4 visas in the UK unless they are studying at an ‘embedded college’, one which has a formal, direct link to a university that is recognised by the Home Office.

Under this change they will be required to leave the country and apply for a new visa from outside the UK if they wish to study another course as of November 2015. They will also be banned from switching visas to Tiers 2 or 5 in the UK, and they will be required to apply from outside the UK.

The time limit for study at the further education level is also being reduced from three years to two years. This brings the maximum period into line with the length of time British students generally spend in further education and will also apply from November.

Tier 4 dependants will not be eligible to take a low or unskilled job, but allow them to take part time or full time skilled work from the autumn of this year.

‘These changes will help reduce immigration abuse, ensuring the UK maintains a competitive offer and attracts the brightest and best international students. The UK continues to welcome genuine students to our world class universities,’ said a Home Office spokesman.