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New UK Immigration Rules  
The UK immigration rules has changed to a Points Based System (PBS).  PBS has five tiers (categories) of visas which will allow non-EEA/EU/Swiss Nationals to work or study in the UK.  Tier 4 is specifically for students going to the UK to study.  From 31 March 2009, all new students wanting to go to the UK will be required to apply for entry clearance under Tier 4 before travelling.  In addition, students already in the UK who are applying for a visa extension as a student will now be assessed under Tier 4 of PBS.

 How will PBS affect my entry clearance/ student visa application?
From 31 March 2009 you will require a ‘visa letter’ from college or University before you can apply for entry clearance as a student.  This ‘visa letter’ is your Letter of Acceptance – Unconditional, which will be issued to you after you have formally accepted your place at college or University, paid any fees required as a deposit and met all of the academic conditions.  This letter will include specific information required by the UK Border Agency (UKBA), without which your entry clearance application will be refused.

What type of student visa do I need?
If you are 17 years old or above and intending to study for a full time postgraduate or undergraduate degree programme, or a pre-sessional programme leading onto a full time degree programme, you must apply for a General (Adult) Student Visa. 

Students who plan to initially enrol on a pre-sessional programme which is less than 6 months must also submit the conditional offer letter for the target course as part of the visa application to ensure that the correct entry clearance is granted.

Pre-sessional programmes include English Language, Foundation and bridging programmes which are compulsory before admission onto the full time academic programme.

How many points are required to obtain a student visa?
You will require 40 points in order to obtain entry clearance as a student under Tier 4 of PBS.

    * 30 points will be awarded for a valid ‘visa letter’ or CAS along with the original supporting documents (or certified copies) listed.
    * 10 points will be awarded for meeting the financial maintenance requirements outlined by the UK Border Agency. 

What if I want to change my student registration status?
If you enter the UK on a student visa and do not enrol at your chosen institution you will be in breach of your immigration status and viewed as an illegal immigrant.

Under the new Points Based System, college or University will be obliged to report to the UK Border Agency any student who obtains entry clearance under PBS on the basis of an offer to study one of the programmes but does not enrol at the start of the semester specified.  Students who enrol at college or  University but later decide to withdraw, interrupt or suspend their studies, or who fail to attend their classes for significant periods will also be reported to UKBA.

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