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New Essex Students

Here’s some information that we think you’ll find useful as you begin your studies in the UK. You can find out lots more about the rules and requirements within our immigration pages and we have specialists who you can contact via the ‘Ask us a question’ section if you can’t find what you’re looking for or need further clarification

It is your responsibility to ensure you understand the conditions of your visa and the University regulations relating to your immigration status.

If you are a Tier 4 student, you’ll receive our Tier 4 leaflet when you register for your course, if you don’t you can download it online or collect one from your Student Services Hub. This is a useful overview of your responsibilities to us and to the Home Office with links to further information. You’ll get an updated version when you register for each year of your course.

If you have a Short-term student entry clearance sticker or a short-term student stamp in your passport you will receive our Short-term student leaflet when your register for your course. You can find information and guidance for Short-term students on our website. It’s important that you note that although your entry will have been granted for six months, if your course finishes before then you will need to leave within 30 days of the course finish date. You can’t apply for another visa from within the UK.

Police registration – Tier 4 students

Some Tier 4 students have a condition to register with the Police, it depends on your nationality. If you are studying a course of less than 6 months you shouldn’t have the condition. The condition will be found in the following places:

  • If you applied for your Tier 4 visa outside the UK it will be on your entry clearance sticker.
  • If you applied for your Tier 4 visa inside the UK it will be shown within the email from ‘Home Office Atlas’.
  • If you recently applied to extend your Tier 4 visa in the UK you’ll need to wait for your decision email and BRP before you can register.

Once you are registered you must keep your registration certificate up to date: if any of your details change including your address or a new visa, you will have 7 days to update it.

This condition isn’t stated on a BRP so it’s really important you check the above documents. Failure to register is a breach of your immigration conditions which is an offence and can have serious consequences for you and your ability to remain in the UK. If you are worried that you should have registered and haven’t, please contact SU Advice for confidential immigration advice.

To register - contact your local Police station to make an appointment to register there.

Working in the UK whilst studying

It’s really important you make sure you know exactly what you can and can’t do whilst you are in the UK studying, if you are in any doubt don’t start work until you have sought advice. Breaching your work condition is an offence and can have serious consequences for you and your ability to remain in the UK. If you are worried that you may have broken your working conditions please contact SU Advice for confidential immigration advice.

Short-term students

If you have a short-term student entry clearance sticker or stamp in your passport, you cannot work at all whilst you are in the UK. This includes voluntary work, unpaid work and work placements.

Essex Tier 4 students

You should have the right to work in the UK during your studies. Here are the answers to some frequent questions we receive, you can find more detailed information on our website. The type of work you can do is restricted, including as a work placement and there are a maximum number of hours you can work per week during your terms.

  • How many hours can I work?

    You’ll need to look at your BRP or entry clearance vignette where it will show how many hours you can work weekly during term time. A week is Monday to Sunday. You must never exceed your weekly limit in any individual week, for instance you can’t do 21 hours one week and 19 the next week.

  • When are my vacations

    If you want to work more than your weekly limit in your vacations you’ll need to check exactly when your official University vacations are, these differ depending on your course. Your employer will need written confirmation from the University of your terms and vacations, you can obtain this from our International Services Team. If you are a Masters student you will not have a summer vacation, if you are a PhD student you will not have any vacations.

  • Can I run my own business or work as a consultant?

    No you can’t, this is one of the types of work Tier 4 students can’t do, you cannot engage in business activity of any kind or be self-employed.

  • Is it true that I can’t work as a professional entertainer, sports person or sports coach?

    Yes it is. You can work as an amateur entertainer, sports person or sports coach though. Make sure you know what is meant by amateur and check with your potential employer what you status would be.

  • What type of work can I do?

    The Immigration rules and guidance detail the kind of work you can’t do. The Home Office expects that Tier 4 students who want to work will be working to supplement their income in a part-time job for an employer usually in the retail sector or something similar or in an integral and assessed work placement as part of their course. Read our advice and the UKCISA blog for more information on what work you can or can’t do.

  • When I’ve finished my course do the work restrictions still apply?

    Yes they do, unless you switch to a different immigration category to stay in the UK to work.

Take care of your BRP

Your Biometric Residence Permit is proof of your immigration status; you will need it for lots of things but don’t need to carry it around with you. We recommend you keep it in a safe place with your passport and don’t use it as a general form of ID or carry it around in your wallet/purse.

If it is lost or stolen you’ll have to make a report to the Home Office and apply for a new one which usually takes up to 8 weeks to obtain and costs £56 for a postal application. If you need the replacement quickly the only option is to pay £666 for a premium in person application. If it goes missing whilst you are overseas you won’t be able to travel back to the UK until you have obtained a single-entry visa to replace a BRP, this costs £154 and can take up to two weeks to receive, then within 1 month of returning to the UK you have to apply for a new BRP card at a minimum cost of £56.

Have you got a new BRP or passport?

If you have been issued with a new BRP or passport since you registered for your course, don’t forget to bring them to your Student Services Hub. As your Tier 4 sponsor the University is required to keep a copy of your latest immigration documents and your passport. We also need to know if you’ve changed your immigration status and report this to the Home Office.

If you recently applied to extend your Tier 4 visa from within the UK you must tell us as soon as you receive the outcome from the Home Office and bring us your new BRP proving that you continue to have the right to study with us. It is your responsibility to ensure you understand the conditions of your visa and the University regulations relating to your immigration status.

If you are registered with the Police you’ll also have to update your certificate within 7 days.

Tier 4 rule and guidance changes - January 2019

There are a few changes to the Immigration Rules that will come into force in January 2019, the following are the changes that may affect Essex Tier 4 students. You can read the UKCISA news to find out about other changes.

  • Maintenance (funds) requirements:

    'London' for maintenance purposes is redefined as the University of London, the City of London and the 32 London boroughs ('Greater London'). The Home Office have confirmed to us that our Loughton Campus will no longer be considered to be ‘London’ for maintenance purposes. Therefore, if you will be making a Tier 4 application to study or continue to study at our Loughton Campus on or after the changes come into force, you will need to have the lower amount of £1,015 per calendar month for each month of your course up to a maximum of nine months so the maximum is £9,135 plus tuition fees.

    Money from a loan/official financial sponsor - the maintenance requirements are being reworded but remain the same. It will be made clear that money from a loan does not have to be available to you on the date of application and that you need not have held funds from a loan or from an official financial sponsor for a 28-day period before you apply.

  • Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) to increase

    If you are making a Tier 4 application on or after 8 January 2019 you will have to pay £300 for each year of your visa, instead of the current fee of £150.

  • ATAS changes – Postgraduate Research students

    From 1 January 2019 the way academic courses in the UK are recorded changed and different codes will be allocated to courses, they are called CAH or CAH3 codes rather than JACS codes. Appendix 6 of the Immigration Rules will be updated to reflect the courses that will require ATAS clearance. If you applied for your ATAS certificate before 1 January 2019, it will still be accepted for an immigration application provided it remains valid.

    As of the 6 July 2018, regardless of the length of course or type of visa, students who are taking a course that requires clearance from the Academic Technology Approval Scheme must obtain their ATAS certificate before applying for their visa or for entry to the UK. This includes students returning for part of a course including students who are distance learners or who need to seek entry as a short term student to take their viva. At Essex this only applies to some of our PhD students.

Changes to how Tier 4 applications are made in the UK

From 5 November, you will no longer need to submit photographs as part of an application in the UK. From 5 November you will also no longer be required to submit original documents (copies will be accepted) for an application made inside or outside the UK. The process for applying in the UK will also change.

The Home Office has recently introduced a new system for making a Tier 4 (General) application in the UK. You will still make your initial application online and will be able to upload your documents. However, the way you submit your biometrics depends on whether you use the old or new system. We do not yet know when the old system will come to an end.

Whatever system you are using to submit your biometrics, we highly recommend that you seek free advice from SU Advice, who are part of our Essex Student Union. SU Advice have immigration specialists who are experts in advising Essex students all about extending their Tier 4 visa inside the UK, they offer visa workshops as well as document checking and one to one appointments to submit your online application.

More information about applying for a Tier 4 visa to study at Essex is available on our website.

Old system – Biometrics taken at Post Office

At the time of writing, it is still possible to apply via the old system where biometric information can be submitted at a participating Post Office. We do not yet know when the old system will come to an end and be replaced entirely with the new system.

New System – UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS)

If you apply using the new system you will need to visit a UKVCAS service centre to have your biometrics taken and can have your documents scanned if you don’t want to do this online. These new service centres are operated by a different organisation, Sopra Steria. There are a number of extra services on offer and relevant fees apply so please make sure you know exactly what type of service you want to book. If you just want to submit your biometrics you should be able to do this free of charge, however, we understand that appointments are limited and so it’s important you make your application and book an appointment as early as possible. If there are no free appointments left, you may need to book an alternative appointment that will incur an additional fee.

  • Choosing a service centre

    During the online application process you’ll input your postcode to find out the nearest service centre to you. If you are reliant on public transport please check the routes as the nearest service centre may not be the easiest or quickest to travel to by public transport. For Essex students you are likely to choose centres based in London including Stratford. For Colchester Campus students there is a service centre in Ipswich, Suffolk and Norwich, Norfolk both of which are fairly easy to travel to via train from Colchester.

  • Don’t travel outside the UK until you have your new BRP

    If you use the service centre you will keep your passport and other evidence. However, it’s really important that you do not travel outside the UK until you have received your new BRP. If you leave the UK whilst your application is still being considered by the Home Office it will automatically be withdrawn and you won’t get a refund. In most cases you would have to obtain a new visa overseas before you could return to the UK and this may mean you can’t continue your course as planned. Seek advice from our International Services team if you need to leave the UK urgently.

  • Problems or questions about the new service

    Unfortunately, we understand that there are various issues with this new service, however, there is no facility for the University to contact Sopra Steria direct and the Home Office will not assist us with queries that relate to this service. However, we would appreciate it if you could tell us about any difficulties you encounter so that we can compile a list and feed this back to the Home Office via UKCISA. You may wish to use the old system, whilst it remains available.

    If you have any questions or problems with the UKVCAS service centre you can find out more on their website. You can make an enquiry about the services they offer or make a complaint online. If you need to talk to them about your application you have to telephone their support line which costs £2.50 per minute.

European students

Keep informed and read the latest guidance from UKCISA regarding Brexit including their short videos.

EU Settlement Scheme open to students from January 2019

From the 21 January 2019 the EU settlement scheme will be open to most students. You’ll be eligible to apply under it if you are either:

  • An EU national with a valid passport (not an identity card), or
  • A non-EU citizen who has a residence card or permanent residence card issued on the basis of an application you made on or after 6 April 2015

It will not be open to family members of British citizens who are currently in the UK under EU law provisions.

If eligible you will be granted pre-settled or settled status, depending how long you can prove you’ve been in the UK for.

Find out more about the scheme on the UKCISA website and contact their advice line if you have any questions.

The UK’s future, post-Brexit, immigration system

The Government has published its white paper stating the intentions for the UK’s future immigration system once the UK has left the EU. It’s important to note that these are only proposals at this stage. The Government have indicated that there will be a 12 month consultation period.

The proposal includes:

One system for all international students who want to come to the UK to study; there will be no lowering of standards that currently apply to the study routes.

EEA students will be treated as non-visa nationals. If they wish to come to study for short periods they will come under the short-term student route. For longer periods of study EEA nationals would have to apply for the appropriate student visa, currently Tier 4 of the Points Based Immigration System. There will be special provision for EEA nationals on Erasmus or similar programmes.

The period that full time UG or PG degree students will be able to remain in the UK after their course has finished will be 6 months (currently 4 months for the majority of degree students, provided course is at least 12 months long). PhD students will be given an extra 12 months.

More information is available on the UKCISA website.