Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence

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Apply for Tier 4 Sponsor in the UK

Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence is required for institutions wishing to sponsors international students.

Those students who wish to come to the UK to study must be eligible to do so, and must have a reputable education provider who can genuinely provide adequate knowledge.

However, the educational facility will be expected to report any change no matter the size or scope about the student to the Home Office via the SMS system.

Moreover, failure to follow this system can result in the cancellation or downgrade of the licence.

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Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence

You will need to apply for a Tier 4 Sponsorship licence if you wish to enrol students from outside the European Union (or to be more precise the EEA and Switzerland).

A Tier 4 Sponsor is an education provider that offers courses of study to full-time students in the UK. There are some exceptions (for instance not all institutions need a sponsorship licence to teach short-term study students).

How to apply for Tier 4 Sponsorship licence

You will need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence.

The main tool for this is the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)

The relevant roles are:

  • Authorising officer – a senior and competent person responsible for the actions of staff and representatives who use the SMS
  • Key Contact – your main point of contact with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)
  • Level 1 User – responsible for all day-to-day management of your licence using the SMS

The mentioned roles can be filled with just one person (or different people if you prefer).

It is also possible to appoint an optional level 2 user once you have your licence. This is an SMS user with more restricted access than a level 1 (for instance, they will not be able to withdraw a certificate of sponsorship).

Furthermore, you and your staffed will be checked whether anyone is suitable for these roles. However, you may not receive your licence if anyone involved with this licence has:

  • An unspent criminal conviction
  • Been fined by the UKVI in the past 12 months
  • Broken the law
  • Been a “key person” at a sponsor that had its licence revoked in the past 12 months
  • Failed to pay VAT or other excise duty

You and your staff must be:

  • Based in UK
  • Cannot be contractor or consultant contracted for a specific project
  • Must not be subject to bankruptcy
  • Not have a history of non-compliance with sponsor requirements

You must have at least one level 1 user who is your employee. Additionally, you can have other level 1 or level 2 users employed by third-party organisation contracted to provide you with HR services. Also, your level 2 user can be a temporary member of staff supplied by an agency.

You can also allocate any of the roles to a UK-based legal representative. Although, apart from the authorising officer role, your representative must be qualified to give immigration advice or services.

To apply for a Sponsorship Licence you will need to provide at least 4 documents

Documents must be originals or certified copies.

When you successfully apply for a Tier 4 licence, UKVI will issue you a probationary sponsor licence. Furthermore, this is a transitional period lasting 12 months whilst you demonstrate you can fulfil all of your duties as a Teri 4 sponsor. However, you must apply for a basic compliance assessment after those 12 months

Estimation of Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

This is a virtual document, similar to a database record. In addition, after you complete the necessary process you will be issued a CAS number which you have to give to the student for his/her visa application form.  Moreover, this reference number is a way of confirming, that:

  • You want to sponsor an overseas student to study in the UK
  • To the best of your 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

When you apply for a sponsor licence, you must apply for the number of confirmations of acceptance for studies (CAS) you would like to assign in your first year.

The number must include:

  • Existing students who you expect to apply for an extension
  • New students you want to sponsor

You can request a CAS allocation for up to 50 per cent of your current student body. Furthermore, your student body must comprise UK, EU or Swiss nationals.

You must provide evidence to support your request, as well as your educational oversight report. As set out in our sponsor guidance, UKVI will consider a range of factors in order to reach a decision on your CAS allocation.

Preparation for Tier 4 sponsor

Before you apply for Tier 4 sponsorship licence you must have made certain preparations.

When applying for a sponsor licence, you must show that you meet the relevant eligibility and suitability requirements as an education provider.

You must show that all your sites meet acceptable relevant education standards. In other words, You must either:

  • Have had a Tier 4 educational oversight inspection or a statutory education inspection, and you must have achieved the required rating
  • Recognised as an overseas HEI offering short-term “study abroad” programmes in your own premises in the UK

As a Tier 4 sponsor, you must comply with the guidance for sponsors and fulfil your duties. For example, you must contact UKVI if:

  • The student does not arrive for their course
  • He or she is absent without permission for a significant period
  • Leaving their course earlier than expected
  • The student drops out

You will be required to keep proper records of the students you sponsor, including contact details and a copy of their passport and BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) and give them to UKVI when asked.

UKVI will monitor your compliance with your duties. It will:

  • Give you a suitable allocation of CAS, dependent on the size of your current student body
  • Make visits, pre-arranged or not, to check compliance
  • Issue civil penalties if it finds evidence that you have somehow breached the illegal working regulations

Where there has been a breach of sponsor duties, UKVI will consider the nature of the breach and may take compliance action against you.

When you have had a probationary sponsor licence for 12 months, you must apply for a basic assessment in order to gain full Tier 4 Sponsor status. Furthermore, UKVI will revoke your licence if you do not meet the requirements.

Our Compliance Support will assist companies with meeting Home Office Regulatios and laws.
FAQ – Tier 4 Sponsorship Licence
I run a language school, do I have to apply for tier 4 sponsor licence?

No, if you run a language school that offers short-term study courses (up to 11months) you may not need this licence. However, other accreditation is necessary.

Sponsorship licence has been revoked. Can I apply again?

Yes, you can apply again, however you will need to wait for the “cooling period” to end before you can do so.

How long is the sponsorship valid?

If you are not downgraded or your licence is being revoked, it will be valid for 4 years.

Can students leave and join a different educational institution?

Yes, however they will need to reapply and you will have to keep records on the SMS that this happened.

Do I need tier 4 sponsor licence for European students?

No, Europeans and British students are exempt.

Who can I place for reporting duties?

You can place yourself or an employee that is working for you and knows how to do it.

Will the Home Office visit my place of work?

It is possible that they might even come unannounced. It is advisable to keep standards of reporting high.

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