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UK: Short-term study for business/tourists OK

In significant news for the English language teaching industry in the UK, Immigration Minister Mark Harper has announced that short-term language study would be permissible for those entering the country on a business or tourism visa from October 28.

Companies such as Stafford House School of English will now be able to accept tourists among their short-term student body.

Visitors will be able to use the study allowance flexibly, either doing a six-week course in a single block or in weekly sessions

Chief Executive of English UK, Tony Millns, applauded the news, which his organisation had worked towards, along with others, for some time behind the scenes.

Visitors will be able to use the study allowance flexibly, either doing a six-week course in a single block or in weekly sessions, but may only take courses at centres accredited by approved bodies, such as Accreditation UK for the English language sector.

As part of the immigration update, it will also now be possible for international students to take up corporate internships of up to a year once they complete their degree.

Tier 4 students will soon be able to apply in-country for one of the Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange Schemes (GAE) schemes, provided it directly links to the qualification they gained at a UK university.

Minister Harper, announcing the changes that benefit businesses and international students, said, “The UK is open for business: we are building an immigration system that works in the national interest and supports growth.”

“This is a sensible move to end the current anomalous situation”

Millns said accredited English centres would be delighted with the change: “This is a sensible move to end the current anomalous situation where technically tourists could learn to ride a horse or do pottery or yoga, but not sit in a classroom and learn the language of the country they are visiting.”

In a Statement of Changes published 6 September, Harper underlined a raft of amendments including this one and others that relate to Tiers 1, 2, 4 and 5.

It will become easier for graduate entrepreneurs to switch into Tier 2 and English language requirements for intra-company transferees will be scrapped.

English UK members were delighted with the news, amending policy that we reported earlier this year was meaning thousands of pounds in lost business.

“Our members get many requests from people here on business to brush up their business English and negotiation skills, but they must currently turn them away because study is not permitted on a business visitor visa,” explained Millns.  “So we strongly support this change and will work with the Home Office to try to ensure that non-accredited centres do not see this as a loophole for abuse.”


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