Student Sponsorship Licence Application

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What is the Purpose of a Student Sponsorship Licence?

A student sponsorship licence allows education providers to enrol international students in their courses. As a licenced student sponsor, the provider can issue prospective students with a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS).

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What is a CAS?

A CAS is an electronic document, produced by approved education providers for the Home Office. Each CAS has a unique reference number which prospective students will need to provide in order to apply for either a Student visa (formerly a Tier 4 General visa) or a Child Student visa (formerly a Tier 4 Child visa) so they can study in the UK.


What Criteria Must be Satisfied to be Granted with a Student Sponsorship Licence?

There are three broad requirements that the education provider must satisfy. The education provider must be:

  • A genuine education provider that has acceptable educational quality standards, is operating lawfully in the UK and is complying with all the appropriate rules and regulations. The assessment of educational quality will be made by the relevant educational oversight body, such as the Office for Students or Ofsted. This assessment will be passed onto UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for consideration.
  • Capable of carrying out its duties as a sponsor.
  • Considered eligible and suitable to hold a Student sponsorship licence. This assessment will be made by UKVI. They will consider whether the provider and all of its sites meet the student educational quality oversight requirement as well as factors such as previous immigration rule and sponsor guidance compliance (at both an institution and individual level).

What is the Process for Obtaining a Student Sponsorship Licence?

Once an education provider is satisfied they have met the above criteria, they will need to complete the following steps:

  • Decide which employees will undertake the sponsor management roles.
  • Estimate the number of CAS to be applied for in the first year of holding the licence.
  • Apply online and pay the application fee of £536.
  • Send the relevant documents listed in the sponsor guidance appendix A to UKVI.

If the application is subsequently approved, the applicant provider will be given access to the sponsorship management system (SMS) which allows providers to carry out their day-to-day sponsorship duties. They will also be granted a probationary sponsorship licence for a period of 12 months. This operates as a transitional period for the provider to demonstrate that they can fulfil their duties as a Student sponsor.

Once the 12-month period is up, the provider must apply for their first basic compliance assessment (BCA). This is to determine whether they meet the core requirements to remain a Student sponsor. More information on the BCA is available on our page dedicated to Student sponsor duties and compliance. If this assessment is passed, the education provider will be awarded a full Student sponsorship licence. This is valid for four years from the date it is granted, unless revoked or surrendered.

How can NA Law Solicitors Help with a Student Sponsorship Licence Application?

NA Law Solicitors has a successful track record for providing practical, precise and cost-effective immigration advice to education providers on all aspects of UK immigration law. We can help you apply for a Student sponsorship licence and thereafter comply with your obligations as a Student sponsorship licence holder.

For more information on the duties imposed on education providers, visit our page dedicated to Student sponsor duties and compliance. Alternatively, please feel free to get in touch for a 15-minute telephone consultation on how to make a successful application.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

You need a sponsorship licence if you plan on hiring employees from outside the EEA.

To meet the requirements, you must:

  • be a genuine business or sole-trader which is legally operating in the UK.
  • be able to demonstrate a genuine need for migrant workers.
  • have no unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences, money laundering, or fraud.
  • not pose any kind of threat to the UK via your company or any of its personnel.
  • not have a history of failing to carry out sponsorship duties.
  • have organised HR systems and records.

The Home Office fee depends on the type of business you have. For small businesses and charities the Tier 2 sponsorship fee is £536. For medium and large businesses the Tier 2 sponsorship fee is £1476. You are a small business if you have an annual turnover of £10.2 million and less than 50 employees.

Some of the most common reasons for Tier 2 sponsor visa rejection are:

  • Non-compliance with the Home Office security standards
  • Failing the genuineness test
  • Failing to retain documentation on sponsored migrant workers

The Home Office will award you with a license rating. Your business will be placed on the UK Sponsorship Licence register. You will be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship. Your license will be valid for 4 years.

Applying for a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence is a lengthy and complex process. NA Law Solicitors can assist with your business immigration needs by managing the entire Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence application process. We can help you adhere to your duties as a Tier 2 sponsor and steer you towards a successful outcome. Subsequently, NA Law can assist with the following:

  • Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence applications
  • Audit existing HR and record keeping systems
  • Acting as a key contact and/or level 1 user for your Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence
  • Advising on Right to Work checks as set out by the Home Office guidance
  • Applying for a restricted or unrestricted CoS and assigning it to the relevant workers
  • Advising on how to deal with closure notices and civil penalty notices
  • Assisting multi-nationals to bring their overseas staff to the UK via the Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer visa route
  • Advising on Brexit-related issues faced by EEA national workers
  • Advising on all other corporate immigration matters

During the sponsor licence application, the Home Office may come to conduct a compliance visit at the company premises. Our specialist team at NA Law Solicitors can conduct a mock audit for you. This will decrease the chance of an unsuccessful sponsor licence. Contact us for further information, advice or guidance.

Most applications are dealt with within 4 weeks. UKVI will contact the applicant once a decision is made.

Prior to making a decision on a Student sponsorship licence application or as a means to ensure a sponsor is adhering to its Student sponsor duties, UKVI may make an unannounced visit to inspect the sponsor’s HR policies and confirm they have sufficient measures in place to fulfil their obligations.

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