News & Updates

Warning! Telephone Scam Affecting International Students, September 2016

We have been made aware of a scam affecting international students. This has been happening for a number of years but we've just been told about a recent case. A caller claiming to be from the Home Office tells students that they are in possession of confidential information and they have not paid for an immigration service. The caller tells the student that as a result of this there is a fine to pay or they will be reported to the police or Home Office.

People who have been targeted have reported that the fraudsters become increasingly insistent and verbally aggressive, resulting in them feeling coerced into making a payment.

If you receive a call like this, do not make any payment or give any personal information (The Home Office does not issue financial penalties).  If you are worried, ask the caller to contact the Lancaster University Visa and Immigration Team at 01524 594214  or ask for their name and number and contact us.

Recent Home Office Changes

Making Changes to your Programme of Study (including upgrading, year in industry, integrated masters programmes)

The study condition for Tier 4 (General) students is being tightened so that if you apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa on or after 6 April 2016 you can only change course at the same institution if: 

  • you haven’t completed the course for which your CAS was assigned
  • the course is taught by a UK recognised body or HEI that has Tier 4 sponsor status
  • the course is at degree level or above the new course isn’t at a lower level than the previous course for which you were granted leave
  • you will be able to complete the new course within your current period of leave
  • if you have previously been granted Tier 4 (General) or Student leave your sponsor must confirm that:
    1. the course is related to the previous course for which you were granted leave (that is, it is connected to your previous course, part of the same subject group or involves deeper specialisation)or
    2. your previous course and the new course in combination support the your genuine career aspirations

Should you wish to change your course or extend your visa you will now have to return home in order to apply for your new visa. The academic progression rules do not apply for applications made outside of the UK. For further information please contact the Visa and Immigration team as soon as possible to discuss your situation:

Email: visa-advice@lancaster.ac.uk

Telephone: 01524 594214

Time Caps (Length of time allowed in the UK for study)

the Immigration Rules will clarify that when calculating the time limits (or ‘caps’) on study, it is the period of leave that you have previously been granted that will count towards the time limits, even if you did not spend all of this time studying and/or you used this time to study a different level of course. Currently it is suspected that if your leave has been curtailed at any point that the Home Office will include all leave up until the date of the curtailment not the time you left your previous course.

Working During Your Studies

If you are allowed to work, you cannot:

  • be employed as a doctor in training (except on a recognised foundation programme);
  • be employed as a professional sportsperson (including a sports coach);
  • be employed as an entertainer;
  • be self-employed or engage in business activity; or
  • fill a full-time, permanent vacancy (except on a recognised foundation programme or as a students’ union sabbatical officer).

You cannot be self-employed or engage in business activity. Everyone in the UK undertaking self-employed work must be registered with HMRC; you must check HMRC guidance to see if you need to be registered as self-employed.

You will be considered to be engaging in business activity where you are working for a business in a capacity other than an employee in which you have a financial or other significant beneficial interest.

This would include the following:

  • setting up a business as a sole trader or under a partnership arrangement and that business is either trading or establishing a trading presence;
  • being employed by a company in which you hold shares of 10% or more (including where the shares are held in a trust for you); or
  • working for a company where you also hold a statutory role, such as a director.

Warning! Home Office Telephone Scam is Still Active

A recent communication has been received from the Home Office to advise that the telephone scam is still active and students are still being targeted. Please see the information below from them:

We have been made aware of the following scam which targets Tier 4 students whereby the student receives a telephone call from an individual who fraudulently purports to represent the Home Office.

The caller instructs the student to verify their telephone number 020 7035 4848 on the www.gov.uk website, search for Home Office, and then scroll down to the bottom of the screen so that they can verify that the caller is calling from the genuine Home Office number. The caller ID on the student’s mobile does show this number.

The caller is in possession of the students full name, postcode in the UK and passport number, and asks the student to confirm those details are correct.

They then proceed to tell the student they have not paid for an immigration service and, as a result, have to pay a fine (usually £1200 - £1520) or they will be reported to the Police/or the Home Office who will detain or deport them.

Students who have been targeted have reported that the fraudsters become increasingly insistent and verbally aggressive resulting in them feeling coerced in to making payment.

UKVI will not contact students in this manner and we recommend that your students are warned about such criminal activities.

If this should happen to you please do not give any payments or details to the person on the phone and contact the Visa and Immigration Service immediately. You can contact us on visa-advice@lancaster.ac.uk or call us on 01524 594 214.

Update from Home Office on Premium Service Appointments

13th May 2016

They are currently experiencing problems with our premium appointment booking service.

Applicants will be able to continue and edit their application, however they will not be able to book, rearrange or cancel an appointment.

The service should be returned soon.

Advice about Phishing Emails and Scams

6th April 2016

There is a new scam email being sent to students from (name)@ cas.org.uk requesting payment with a link to view the invoice

"Regarding the amount due 1462.15 GBP, we act on behalf of Safety Assurance Services Ltd in order to collect the outstanding account value of your debt.

We would like to remind you that the amount above was due for payment on 29.03.16 but as no payment has been received, your invoice is now considered as overdue.

Please find a printable version of your invoice at the following link:”

Please do not open the link but delete the email from your inbox.

You can find further information about Phishing emails and scams here:

www.gov.uk/report-suspicious-emails-websites-phishing

Warning! Work Visa Scam

15th February 2016

An immigration adviser who is registered with the Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) has been operating a scam to obtain exorbitant fees of up to £13000 to find jobs and make Tier 2 applications for students. Victims have claimed that the jobs do not exist and the applications made have had devastating consequences for the students, who are accused of deception by the Home Office when their applications are refused.

You must very careful when using immigration advisers and if you have any suspicions or concerns about anyone please contact the Visa and Immigration team at visa-advice@lancaster.ac.uk  

 Update & Approve

Updates to the Tier 4 Visa application

25th January 2016

On Thursday 28th January the Home Office will be introducing a new Tier 4 online application. The new form will be phased in between Thursday 28th January 2016 and 9am on Monday 1st February 2016. During this time frame some students will get directed to the current form and others to the new form. The Home Office are hoping to complete this transition as soon as possible however please avoid using this form during this period unless your visa is expiring before 1st February 2016, in which case you must use it and submit your visa application in time.

If you have started an application using the current form before it is replaced by the new form then you will be able to log in and complete this application until midnight on Thursday 25 February 2016.  If you do not complete and submit your application by this deadline (including paying the application fee and the immigration health surcharge, if applicable) then it will no longer be accessible and you will have to submit a new application using the new form.

If you have any queries regarding the above information please contact the Lancaster University Visa and Immigration team.

Warning! Fake landlords target international students

November 2015

The National Union of Students is warning international students to beware of fake landlords offering accommodation to students in the UK.

This BBC article discusses the fate of one student victim: www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-34608919.

Rental fraud is on the rise so if you are looking for University-approved accommodation in the private sector, be sure to use our Lancaster University Homes service.  

Our website has Lancaster’s widest range of private halls, city apartments and traditional shared housing – all from reputable landlords. 

Warning! Travel Scam

28th July 2015  

We have received an email from Prima Passports and Visas .  Please note that this company is not affiliated with Lancaster University.  You are reminded that if you require visa immigration advice to contact the relevant embassy of the country that you wish to travel to.  Please be vigilant of any one contacting you regarding immigration and do not give any personal information or payments over the telephone or by email.  If you are in any doubt please contact the LU Visa and Immigration Team.

Warning! Telephone scam - UKCISA

21st April 2015 We've been contacted by several of our members to warn us that some international students in the UK have recently been targeted as part of a telephone scam.

This scam follows a similar pattern to previous scams:

  • A student receives a call from someone pretending to be from the Home Office
  • The incoming number appears to match a genuine Home Office number
  • The student is told that there is a problem with their visa and that they need to pay a fine and/or give the caller personal information and contact details
  • Some students are also told that they will be visited by a Home Office official

Please remember that the Home Office will never call an international student to request payments or ask for personal details in this way.  DO NOT make payments or give information to anyone calling you like this.

You can read our full information on telephone frauds and scams, including how to report a scam call if you receive one.