Home Office Update: Changes to Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance

On 12 November 2015 the Home Office published a new version of the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance. The changes have brought further reform for the Tier 4 Sponsor guidance, bringing with them confirmations of practices already implemented by the Home Office but also new criteria for Tier 4 Sponsors outlined below.  

Reform for Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance

The following is a summary of changes:

  • Revocation of a Sponsor licence in the past two years:  where a Sponsor has held a Tier 2,4, or 5 Sponsor licence and has had this revoked in the preceding 2 years prior to making a new application a new application for a Tier 4 licence may be refused.
  • Holiday periods: the Home Guidance now requires Sponsors to allocate time in between academic terms for holiday and vacation periods similar to that of publicly funded institutions to prevent abuse of the immigration system.
  • Academic progression policy: a number of changes have been introduced by the Home Office guidance making the rules tighter than ever before in demonstrating academic progression.
  • Periods of time as a student below degree level: The Home Office Guidance has reduced this from 3 years to 2 years. This could mean a loss in students and thus business for a number of Tier 4 Sponsors.
  • Tier 4 Children applications : the Home Office Guidance states that only independent schools can Sponsor Tier 4 (Child) under this route.

Further Leave to Remain: Tier 4 General Student

The new Home Office guidance issued on 12 November 2015,  permits Tier 4 (General) students who have, or who were last sponsored,  by one of the UK Sponsors listed below to apply to extend their leave in the UK under the Tier 4 (General) student:

  • a UK recognised body or body in receipt of public funding as a HEI;
  • an overseas HEI, if a Tier 4 General student is completing a short-term study-abroad course in the UK; or
  • an embedded college.

Tier 4 (General) applicants who are sponsored by another institution not listed above; for example FE colleges and they wish to extend their time in the UK as students under the Tier 4 (General) route must return to their country of origin and apply for an entry clearance application as a Tier 4 student once again.

The time limit for calculating the period that a Tier 4 General student has spent in the UK will now take into account the full length of the leave granted by the Home Office as opposed to limiting this to the length of the course.

Compliance Advice for Sponsors

Specific requirements have also been set for Sponsors to allocate specific periods of time for courses which will then correspond with the length of leave granted by the Home Office, this will be calculated to take into account the length of a course accordingly.

Sponsors should ensure that they follow the strict letter of the law and comply with all Home Office Guidance on their sponsor licence under Tiers 2,4 or 5. The consequences for failing to comply with Home Office Guidance are more severe than ever before. Sponsors should aim to keep a clear record for their licences to prevent refusals in the future due to past Home Office revocations and or refusals.

The Guidance provides clarity on revocation of all sponsor licences under Tiers 2 4 or 5 where a Sponsor’s Tier 4 licence is revoked. Businesses and Sponsors aiming to protect themselves should therefore opt for dividing their Sponsorship licences in two. This way when a Tier 4 licence is revoked a Sponsor’s  Tier 2 or 5 licence will not be revoked simultaneously.

UK Immigration Advice for Visa Applicants & Sponsors

Our team of solicitors and barristers bear in mind the paramount duty of all legal representatives to act in your best interest whilst complying with the strict letter of the law. Our team of specialists can be distinguished from other law firms with our client tailored approach and scrutiny of options available to you from the outset. We will be able to advise you in respect of the merits of your Tier 4 application by providing you with advice from our leading team of barristers before your matter even reaches the Home Office. Our expert immigration solicitors provide business clients with a tailored service and are on hand to expedite the sponsor licence process. We ensure that we help you achieve and maintain an A rated sponsor licence and provide ongoing compliance checks to ensure you are aware of your duties as a Home Office registered sponsor.

If you have instructed legal representatives and you are unhappy with their conduct you can contact us to discuss your case so that we can provide you with a case assessment. To contact one of our Immigration Solicitors or Immigration Barristers please complete our legal case assessment form and we will get in touch or call us now on 02071830570 for a telephone assessment.

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