Immigration Case Note: Court of Appeal Rules on Academic Progression

Recently, the Court of Appeal published an important decision on Tier 4 Sponsor Licence holder’s obligations and held that it is for an education provider to determine if the Home Office’s ‘academic progression’ requirement has been met. In Pokhriyal [2013] EWCA Civ 1568, the Court of Appeal held that ‘academic progression’ is a matter for the academic institution i.e. Tier 4 Sponsor Licence holder and not the Home Secretary or her officials acting in her stead.

Pokhriyal: Facts of the Case

In this case, two foreign students were appealing against the Secretary of State’s decision that their proposed further courses did not constitute academic progress from their previous studies. The two appellant’s, Himanshu Pokhriyal and Amjad Hussain, came to the UK as Tier 4 General Students under the Points Based System (PBS) and had made applications for leave to remain before the expiration of their visas which were subsequently refused.

The Secretary of State’s decisions to refuse the applications were upheld by the First Tier Tribunal and the Upper Tribunal and then considered by the Court of Appeal.

Describing, the Home Office’s rules governing the PBS (which are set out in the Immigration Rules and appendices), Lord Justice Jackson, the judge sitting at the Court of Appeal stated:

“These provisions have now achieved a degree of complexity which even the Byzantine Emperors would have envied.”

Academic Progression is to be Determined by Tier 4 Education Providers

In paragraph 45 of the Court’s judgement, Lord Justice Jackson describes the phrase ‘academic progress’ as a “vague” one and clarified the Court’s position in paragraph 46:

“Whether a particular course constitutes academic progress is not a hard edged question. It involves comparing the new course with the student’s previous academic achievements and then making a value judgement. There is a degree of subjectivity which is inescapable. Paragraph 120B of Appendix A makes it clear that it is for the college, not the Secretary of State, to carry out the assessment. It is unsurprising that colleges are trusted to make this particular decision. The colleges have the requisite expertise. Also they have been approved by the Secretary of State to act as sponsors under the PBS. If any college steps out of line, its authorisation will be withdrawn.”

Successful UK Tier 4 Student Visa Applications & Appeals

Our team of experienced and professionally qualified immigration solicitors and barristers will be able to guide you through the process of making a student visa application step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of law.

We also undertake a great deal of appeal work before the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal and have a successful track record of successful results for our clients. We have the experience and the knowledge required to take your case forward successfully. If you have had a student visa refused, contact us to discuss your case so that we can provide you with a case assessment.

Contact us so that we can review your case and provide you with an assessment.

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