There are currently 1304 (as of 22 March 2017) registered Tier 4 sponsors in the UK. The Application process can be cumbersome and overwhelming and may require legal experts to submit a successful application first time around. Your Institution you must apply online, print and forward a completed submission sheet and your supporting documents (see Appendix A for list) to the Sponsor case operations team. The process usually takes up to 4 weeks but in some instances, the UKVI may opt to visit your institution to ensure it is suitable. There are key requirements which must be satisfied are the Guiding Principles, Educational Oversight requirement and Eligibility and suitability for a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence.
To be granted a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence your institution must be able to demonstrate that they are;
- A genuine education provider that has an acceptable education quality standards, and is operating lawfully in the UK;
- Your institution must be eligible and suitable for a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence and
- Your institution must be able to demonstrate that it is capable of carrying out its duties as a registered sponsor.
In order to establish whether your institution meets these requirements, the UKVI will consider a number of factors, such as its history, key personnel named on its application and your institution’s policies and how your institution aims to meet its sponsor duties. In some occasions, the UKVI may opt for a site visit to help them reach a decision. It is important to note that the UKVI will refuse applications from the onset where there are concerns regarding dishonest conduct or there has been a history of dishonesty or history of immigration crimes being committed.
Educational Oversight requirement
The purpose of the educational oversight requirement is to determine whether your institution and all of its sites satisfy the acceptable education quality standards. A independent professional Educational Oversight body authorised by the Home Office undertakes the assessment. There is a table published by the Home Office as to appropriate professional Educational Oversight bodies. The majority of publicly funded colleges are already subject to statutory education inspections and in some occasions, these are considered adequate for the purpose of the Tier 4 Sponsor Licence. However, if your institution has passed a statutory inspection but the course you wish to teach was not considered under the inspection i.e. it may be a new course you wish to teach, the UKVI may require another assessment for that particular course to ensure your institution meets the requirements.
If your institution is a private education provider and wishes to apply for an Education Oversight inspection it must have been continuously teaching a course that meets the Tier 4 requirements for at least 2 years prior to its application. In addition to this, if your institution is private and offers a range of courses at different levels of education at different sites, your institution may be required to conduct several different assessments to ensure each site meets the requirement. Your application may be refused if you fail any one inspection, i.e. if your institution requires 3 inspections but passes 2 and fails one, this will be considered insufficient for the purpose of the application. We have recently seen the UKVI change its approach on assessing Tier 4 Sponsor Licence applications; they have set down their requirements and have demonstrated that these must be satisfied fully and in accordance with their guidance. The UKVI have cracked down on rogue education providers who are abusing their Tier 4 Licence and will continue to do so.
All Education Oversight inspections will cover two core requirements but in some occasions, they may wish to add further requirements to their oversight if they feel it is appropriate to do so. The two main requirements are for an Education Oversight Inspection is;
- Quality assurance including academic governance; and
- Financial sustainability, management and governance.
Eligibility and suitability for a Tier 4 Licence
Ultimately the decision to grant an application for a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence will be made by the UKVI but it will take into consideration the Guiding Principles and the Education Oversight inspection into consideration. It will take into account any relevant factors it feels are necessary and appropriate, including (but not limited to) whether or not:
- Your institution has met the Educational Oversight requirement and you have complied with any time restrictions for an application for a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence;
- Your institution and all of its sites must have complied with the immigration rules and Sponsor guidance in the past;
- You must be able to demonstrate that your institution is a genuine education provider and is operating lawfully in the UK, i.e. registered for VAT with the HM Revenue and Customs; and
- During the Tier 4 Sponsor Licence application, you will need to allocate specific roles to members of your staff. The personnel assigned must demonstrate that are honest, reliable and capable of complying with the immigration rules and sponsor guidance. There are 4 mandatory roles, which must be assigned. The roles are as follows:
- Authorising officer- this person will be in charge of staff and representatives who use or have access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS);
- Key Contact- this person will be the main point of contact for the institution and will directly communicate with UKVI about any queries about the Tier 4 Sponsor Licence application;
- Level 1 user- this person will be responsible for all day to day management of your institution’s Sponsor Licence using the SMS; and
- Level 2 user (optional)- this person will also have access to the SMS, but with more restricted permission, as this person will only be responsible for basic duties.
It is essential you evaluate and consider each candidate for each of the roles in accordance with the UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor Licence guidance. As the UKVI may revoke your Tier 4 Sponsor Licence if they discover you have assigned the aforementioned roles to someone who has an unspent criminal conviction, a fine issued against their name from the UKVI in the last 12 months or have been reported to the UKVI.
Using Legal Representation to Apply for a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to submit a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence application.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successful Tier 4 Sponsor Licence Applications
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your visa and immigration application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your immigration and visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.