On 5 October 2009, new Tier 4 students' permission to stay in the United Kingdom will be 'tied' to the education provider that is sponsoring them. This will bring Tier 4 in line with other tiers of the points-based system.
From 5 October, every new Tier 4 student will find their sponsor's reference number on the vignette in their passport or on their identity card for foreign nationals.
In future, if a student wants to study with a new Tier 4 sponsor and they made their last application for a Tier 4 visa on or after 5 October 2009, they will need to apply for a new Tier 4 visa. They will not be allowed to begin studying with the new education provider until they have received a decision on the outcome of their application - if they do so, they will be committing a criminal offence for which they could be prosecuted or removed from the country.
We have been asked whether students in this situation will be able to begin studying with the new education provider, at their own risk, before they have received a decision on their application. The UK Border Agency cannot condone a criminal offence, and therefore cannot advise students that this is an option for them. We will make every effort to ensure that applications from students wishing to change education provider are considered within the published service standard, so that they can move to the new education provider as quickly as possible.
If a student wants to study with a new Tier 4 sponsor, and they made their last application for a Tier 4 visa before 5 October 2009, they will continue to be allowed to change their without making a new Tier 4 application. They must, however, seek permission from us to change their sponsor.