With close to half a million international students studying in the UK every year, educational institutions including universities, schools and colleges are under continuingly increasing pressure when it comes to conforming to the terms of their sponsor licence for Tier 4 visas.
As London Metropolitan University proved a while back, get it wrong and there’s the potential to end up in hot water! In fact, the UK Home Office is becoming increasingly quick to take enforcement action on sponsors, from a reduction or freeze on CAS allocations, to a complete licence revocation if they meet a failure rate of 10% or above – a costly implication for any establishment if they can no longer benefit from the revenue stream from overseas students.
Currently the Tier 4 immigration system requires robust checks prior to offering any student a position. The system also undoubtedly faces further scrutiny and changes when the full Brexit effect comes into play at the end of 2020.
With such a complex and time consuming system, the question remains – should establishments outsource their Tier 4 sponsor requirements? The safest answer to guarantee success and safeguard students is yes…
Obtain and maintain – It all starts with a sponsor’s licence:
Every education provider must obtain a Tier 4 sponsor licence if they wish to accept non-EU students, and, shortly, EU students too. This process is complex in itself ensuring CAS estimates are correct, supplying the appropriate documents to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and meeting basic sponsorship duties. The Home Office can visit a sponsor’s premises at any time, without prior notice if they choose, to ensure the way in which they hold and process records is compliant.
Once an establishment is granted a sponsors licence they must adhere to the Home Office’s ongoing record keeping, monitoring and reporting requirements to maintain their status. Any establishment found to be enrolling students without UK immigration permission, failing to properly assess a student’s academic progression or English language ability, or even failing to monitor and record international student attendance, are all serious breaches of sponsor duties. Outsourcing immediately alleviates unnecessary stress and pressure on staff and ensures that an establishment is compliant every step of the way.
Eliminate errors and protect the establishment:
If educational institutions allow their students to arrange their own applications, rather than enforcing that they utilise their selected third party expert, it is important that they’re aware of the risk – to both school and student – to get every application right. The process and stringent checks are a minefield and the simplest of errors could lead to rejection which in turn impacts the Institution’s overall success rate. No stone is left unturned and, not only would a student be refused a visa, the establishment would be marked with a failure and could face a complete licence revocation if repeated failures were processed – 10% or above as mentioned earlier!
Outsource to success:
If an establishment has taken the wise decision to outsource then they must ensure their adviser is qualified to do so, such as being accredited by the OISC. This means everything can be actioned on their behalf, they can offer CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) and act as a consultant in the advisory stage when offering a place. The benefits of an OISC registered adviser is the protection they offer to your reputation and the security of knowing you’re in expert hands.
If you have any questions about Tier 4 sponsor licence compliance and how it may affect your establishment, contact our team of UK immigration experts for advice.