#Article (Archive)

Fresh Rules For Migrant Students, Others In UK

Oct 16, 2009, 3:37 AM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point's UK correspondent

The UK Border Agency responsible for protecting the borders of the United Kingdom has announced and published fresh rules indicating 'two new documents' to assist not only students but also 'education providers' via the channel known as 'the process of sponsorship'.

These rules are specified under the Tier 4 of the points-based system which has been previously detailed to readers by the Point Newspaper and are currently effective. As usual, students are urged to try and acquaint themselves with the new rules as soon as possible.

According to legal practitioners, it is unfortunate that some students and sponsors are still not 'in-tune with the new rules'- thus the Home Office documents are designed to reply to some of the most common Tier 4 questions that are asked by sponsors and students.

The documents also indicated the fact and distinguished applications applying within the UK and those students applying from outside.

According to the Border Agency, such forms to be used by those applying from within the UK also outlined the 'new versions of these forms to be used for applications made on or after Monday 1 June 2009'.

Regarding the forms for applications from overseas, the agency explains that they are also available on its website for the attention of concerned persons.

This correspondent saw and read the forms which are more eligible and easier to fill, including a section where evidence required from such students are properly outlined.

Those with difficulty for understanding them are also asked to consult agents or solicitors for that matter, hence capable and competent Gambian lawyers in the country have renewed their calls for students to get in touch with them for any help or assistance they may need.

Other helpful offices provided and funded by the government like the Citizens Advice Bureau are also available for similar help. It is vital to note that most of them are asking for little or no payment for such vital help.  Such organisations could even help in terms of unfair or wrongful dismissal or other range of useful services.

A young Gambian man who was recently directed by this correspondent to one of the Bureaus in the country, following a complaint of 'unfair suspension' from work came back with a positive result and now got back to his job.

According to the Home Office, the revised versions of the policy guidance for tier 4 of the points-based system, and of the PBS dependants' policy guidance, have also been published by the agency. Proof of availability of finances - loan documentation also 'allows applicants to provide a letter from an appropriately regulated financial institution confirming availability of funds in the form of a loan'.

Currently 'slight revisions' have been made to the required content of these loan letters, to allow for the fact that they will not always include an applicant's account number. This part has also been welcomed by many who thought that certain students cannot or found it difficult to have their names in such account details.

A Cambridge university student who spoke to the Point said: 'This is pretty good and make sense. I am rich but my name is not in my account, therefore it helps a great deal because there are some students like me who could have encountered problems previously'.

Regarding 'official financial sponsorship', the Border Agency recalled that 'prior to 1 June 2009, there was no provision for a tier 4 migrant's official financial sponsor to extend their financial sponsorship to the family members' of the tier 4 migrant. However, from '1 June 2009 a tier 4 migrant's official financial sponsor will be permitted to extend their financial sponsorship to cover the tier 4 migrant's dependants'.

The new rules also explains the 'electronic signatures on visa letters' with the policy guidance revised to clarify that either a digital signature or a scanned signature will be accepted as an 'electronic signature' for these purposes.

Furthermore, there is no doubt that living in the city of London is far more expensive and therefore taking that into consideration, the 'maintenance requirements - inner and outer London is also now an issue. Henceforth, applicants who will be studying in 'inner London' are required to show a higher level of funds to cover their living costs than those who will be studying outside London.

Nonetheless, the definition of who the higher maintenance requirements apply to has not changed, according to the Border Agency.

Some of the changes, according to some students and legal professionals 'rectified and answered' various questions which were previously 'hard to understand' and therefore commended the Home Office for remedy.

A law professor and university tutor in London who also deals with immigration issues told the Point: 'It is always a good thing that any ambiguity or uncertainty that takes people's times in such matters are rectified...therefore the changes are very important in the eyes of many as long as it is properly defined'.