Update on UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI)

Report
Matthew Russell
Academic Registrar, Cranflled University
Jon Pink
Academic Registrar, University of Kent
Update on UK Visa and
Immigration (UKVI)
UKVI Practitioner Group – Future Meetings
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Matthew has taken over Chair of the UKVI (UKBA) PG
Jon will continue as Vice-Chair
The PG will focus on operational matters relevant to
practitioners
Jon will continue, at this time, to represent ARC with the Home
Office
Do we need to change the focus of the PG to compliance with
other PGs picking up relevant visa matters or keep it wider?
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Current and emerging issues
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ATAS
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Turnaround time and inexperience of staff
Currency of ATAS clearance is only six months
No joined up thinking or communication between FCO and HO
ATAS a requirement for Tier 4 but not for other visas on which students
can be enrolled – how “inclusive” should HEIs be?
 Unclear guidance on “change of circumstances” and when ATAS
clearance should be re-sought
 (Possibly just an issue for Cranfield but…) no joined up thinking with
MoD agencies, especially their security clearance agencies for
international students coming in on military visa
UKBA Compliance Visits
Current and emerging issues
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Police Checks, no decision yet, Police are preparing for
registration so very unlikely to be stopped for this year
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India and the rupee exchange rate – current impact?
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HEAT – training, operation and implications
Working during a Masters dissertation period
Working after the course has finished but before visa expires
Co-regulation steering group and its potential impact
Definition of course start and end dates
Credibility interviews – robustness, fairness operations
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UKBA Compliance Visits
HEAT Update and Training Programme
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The HEAT has had a short day session arranged by UUK and
GulidHE, QAA did a session.
The HEAT have started visiting volunteer Universities, the
Universities hosting are representative of the sector
HEAT have visited Cranfield University
Have you been visited yet?
How HEAT operates is the subject of discussion at the co-regulation
steering group, the Home Office are producing a document setting
out the HEAT priorities and method of operation
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Co-regulation Steering Group
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There have been 4 meetings so far, another on Monday
The last two meetings have focused on:
 changing the format of the Policy Guidance, possible 4 sections to
reflect the topisc and users.
 The HEAT operations
 After a compliance visit how the outcomes are communicated and the
sanctions to be applied
The meetings are positive and the Chair, Sonia Dower, is
keen to make progress and hold Home Office staff to account
However progress is slow partly due to staff leave
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Course start and end dates definition
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Paragraph 452: after “course level” add “, start and end
dates”
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In Paragraph 453 add at the end, “ In assigning a CAS to a
Tier 4 (General) student, the following definition of course start
and end date should be applied:
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The course start date is the date of enrolment in person or induction on
the course, whichever is the earlier.
 The course end date is the date by which the student is expected to
have completed all academic elements of the course – taught sessions,
examinations including meetings with examination boards,
assessments, including oral assessments and other formal
assessments, and writing and submitting dissertations or theses. In the
case of PhD students, academic elements include writing and
correcting theses and oral (viva) examinations, provided the sponsor is
satisfied that they can continue to carry out their sponsor duties for the
student.”
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UKBA Compliance Visits
Course start and end dates definition
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It is recognised that sponsors’ academic schedules can
change, and that it may therefore be difficult for you to
pinpoint the end date of a course precisely when issuing a
CAS. If changes to the academic timetable means that the
student’s course finishes up to two weeks earlier or later than
the course end date given on the CAS, this will not be
considered as non-compliance with sponsorship duties.
However, if there is evidence that a sponsor repeatedly gives
course end dates that are significantly later than students are
expected to complete their studies, that will be considered to
be a breach of sponsorship duties.
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UKBA Compliance Visits
Course start and end dates definition
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Replace Paragraphs 490 and 491: Writing up
(postgraduate students) with:
490. You may continue to sponsor a postgraduate student to
write up a dissertation or thesis if you are confident that you
can meet your sponsor duties for them during the period
leading up to its final submission, including any oral (viva)
examination. If you cannot meet your duties during this
period you should tell us this, and advise the student to leave
the UK. You may later assign a CAS which they may use to
apply to return to the UK. You may be able to meet your
sponsor duties if for instance you require their continued
participation in classes or by contact.”
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UKBA Compliance Visits
Course start and end dates definition
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Replace Paragraphs 490 and 491: Writing up
(postgraduate students) with:
490. You may continue to sponsor a postgraduate student to
write up a dissertation or thesis if you are confident that you
can meet your sponsor duties for them during the period
leading up to its final submission, including any oral (viva)
examination. If you cannot meet your duties during this
period you should tell us this, and advise the student to leave
the UK. You may later assign a CAS which they may use to
apply to return to the UK. You may be able to meet your
sponsor duties if for instance you require their continued
participation in classes or by contact.”
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UKBA Compliance Visits
Course start and end dates definition
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Replace Paragraphs 490 and 491: Writing up
(postgraduate students) with:
490. You may continue to sponsor a postgraduate student to
write up a dissertation or thesis if you are confident that you
can meet your sponsor duties for them during the period
leading up to its final submission, including any oral (viva)
examination. If you cannot meet your duties during this
period you should tell us this, and advise the student to leave
the UK. You may later assign a CAS which they may use to
apply to return to the UK. You may be able to meet your
sponsor duties if for instance you require their continued
participation in classes or by contact.”
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UKBA Compliance Visits
Credibility Interviews – the set up
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Members of the JET – representatives from UUK, GuildHE,
UKCISA, NUS, Study UK, English UK went on visit to
Sheffield in June to see interviews in practice
The interviewing operation is run from a business park in
Sheffield
It is an expansive open plan office space with approximately
60 cubicles set up across it. The cubicles are three sided like
the voting booths you get during elections. They allow for
some privacy but are not completely enclosed
Staff sit within these cubicles to carry out the interviews.
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UKBA Compliance Visits
Credibility Interviews – the positives
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Interviews are carried out in a friendly but professional manner
The interviews were not carried out in an intimidating manner
aided by the young and casual appearance of the staff and
the fact they did not have an immigration background
Staff thanked applicants for applying to come to the UK and
thanked them at the end for their time (wishing them an
enjoyable ‘rest of the day’)
There are clear efforts being made to promote consistency in
interview procedures
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UKBA Compliance Visits
Credibility Interviews – the negatives
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Lack of recording is a big issue
Lack of appeals process
Interviewers face a difficult task in conducting interviews and
recording them simultaneously. This may lead to mistakes and
inconsistencies
Interviewers are required to make a subjective judgement on
the applicant and this will inform to some extent the outcome
of that individual’s application
Still unclear at this stage how much information we can
provide members on the content of interviews – can we
explain to them the exact nature of the questions on the proforma or will this be viewed in a negative light (and open to
coaching of applicants)
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UKBA Compliance Visits
Questions
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