Applying for a Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence in the UK

The UK is one of the most attractive destinations for overseas students. In order for an academic institution to enrol students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), they will need to hold a valid Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence and will appear on the government’s official register of licenced sponsors. It can be overwhelming ensuring that all of the Home Office requirements are correctly met for a Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence application, therefore Applicants should contact our specialist business immigration team to arrange a consultation and assess whether the application will have a good chance of success.  

What is a Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence?

A Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence allows academic institutions in the UK to enrol overseas students on their courses. These academic institutions are not only higher education providers such as universities, but also colleges which offer pathway or pre-sessional courses and independent schools for a Tier 4 (Child) students aged between 4 and 17. Academies and state-funded schools cannot apply for a Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence.

During the application process, academic institutions will need to estimate the number of Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) they will need for the first year.  A CAS is an academic institutions way of confirming, as a licensed sponsor, that they want to sponsor an overseas student to study in the UK and to the best of their knowledge, that student meets the requirements of the rules for a valid CAS and will be able to make a successful application for leave to come to or stay in the UK.

Once a Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence is granted, the academic institution will have a probationary sponsorship licence for 12 months, after which they must apply for a basic compliance assessment in order to gain full Tier 4 Sponsor status. The Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence can be revoked at any time if the sponsor licence holder is in breach of Home Office compliance rules.

What are the main requirements for a Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence Application?

There are several requirements that institutions must meet when successfully applying for a Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence. The ‘Guiding Principles’ are that:

  • The academic institution must be eligible for the Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence;
  • The academic institution must meet the suitability requirement by demonstrating that it is capable of carrying out its duties as a registered sponsor; and
  • The academic institution must be a genuine education provider that has acceptable education quality standards and is operating lawfully in the UK by satisfying the ‘Educational Oversight’ requirement.

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.

What are the Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence management roles?

As with Tier 2 and Tier 5 Sponsorship Licence holders, Tier 4 academic institutions must assign 4 sponsorship management roles to one or more member of staff. The roles are:

Authorising Officer – This should be a senior and competent individual who will be responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

Key Contact – This is who will be the main point of contact with UKVI regarding the institution’s application.

Level 1 User – This individual will be responsible for the day to day management of the Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence using the SMS.

Level 2 User – This individual will have more restricted access permissions to the SMS than the level 1 user.

It is highly important that the sponsorship management roles are suitable and UKVI will perform checks on each person before they are assigned the role(s). For example, key personnel must be based permanently in the UK and must not be a contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project. Furthermore, institutions may not get their Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence or have their Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence revoked if the key personnel have an unspent criminal conviction, have received a fine from UKVI in the last 12 months or have otherwise broken the law.

Using Legal Representation to Apply for a Tier 4 Sponsorship 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 Sponsorship 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 Sponsorship 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.

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