Dear Mr Bassie,
I am already in the United Kingdom and I intend to further my education while I am here, but I understand that there are some new requirements that have been put in place for prospective students. I am hoping that you can advise me on what the requirements are.
You are correct that there have been some changes in this area. As of the October 1, 2013, the route for prospective students and their dependants has been closed to all new applicants. Therefore, a person may still be eligible if he or she is already in the United Kingdom under the prospective student category. The prospective student category is for nationals of countries that are outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
A person may still be able to operate in the United Kingdom as a prospective student if he or she had intended to originally study in the United Kingdom under the Tier 4 (General) of the points-based system, (which tier is for adults who would like to go to the United Kingdom for their post-16 education) but that person has not completed all the arrangements for his or her course of study. This may be possible if, for example, that person had arrived in the United Kingdom as a prospective student and had been provisionally accepted on a course, with the final acceptance dependent on an interview.
The prospective student should have a clear idea of the type and purpose of course that he or she would like to study, and the prospective student should already have been in touch with educational institutions in the United Kingdom. If the prospective student only has a vague intention to study for qualifications or to enter an unspecified university or other institution, he or she cannot operate in the United Kingdom as a prospective student.
A prospective student must be able to show that he or she will start his or her course within six months of arrival in the United Kingdom. This may possibly be evidenced by that prospective student providing a letter of acceptance or prospectus that gives details of the course.
If a person already has an unconditional offer of a place on a course, which he or she intends to accept, then that person should not go there as a prospective student but instead, he or she should apply to enter the United Kingdom under Tier 4.
The person who has prospective student status must show that he or she intends to switch into Tier 4 of the points-based system to begin his or her course within six months of arrival in the United Kingdom and then leave the United Kingdom at the end of that person's course; or leave the United Kingdom when his or her permission to stay as a prospective student expires, if that person has not been able to switch into Tier 4.
That prospective student must also be able to show that he or she has enough money to meet the costs of his or her intended course, accommodation, and to support himself or herself without working or help from public funds. Also, there is no minimum age requirement as a prospective student.
Just for completeness, it is possible for a husband, wife, or civil partner, and any of his or her children who are under 18, to go to the United Kingdom with that person while he or she arranges his or her studies. The children are known as the prospective student's 'dependants'. The prospective student must be able to show that he or she can adequately accommodate and support any dependant without working or needing any help from public funds. The person should provide documents to show that he or she meets the above requirements. In order to utilise the status of prospective student that person must have gone to the United Kingdom on a visa as prospective student.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.