Student Sponsor Duties and Compliance

Sponsorship is a privilege and not a right. Licenced education providers benefit directly from student migration and therefore have a responsibility to help prevent the system from abuse. Therefore, in order to gain and retain a Student sponsor licence, providers must fulfil a number of duties and comply with certain requirements.

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General Duties

All Student sponsors must:

  • Act with honesty and integrity in all their dealings with the Home Office. This includes (but is not limited to) ensuring all statements made to the Home Office are true and that all relevant information is disclosed to the Home Office.
  • Take responsibility for all their sponsored students during the sponsorship period. This includes a responsibility to ensure that prospective students are genuine students who can comply with the Immigration Rules, and that following enrolment, students comply with their conditions of leave and see their course through to completion.
  • Ensure that any concerns about the conduct and integrity of students and child students are treated fairly and consistently with other students.
  • Comply with all aspects of the Immigration Rules and sponsor guidance. For example, providers must be proactive in ensuring that each individual student at their institution has permission to study in the UK throughout the duration of their course.
  • Co-operate with the Home office by allowing its staff immediate access to any of their sites on request. This includes unarranged visits.
  • Comply with requests for information.
  • Ensure their website and other advertisements accurately reflect their current Student sponsor status.

Specific Duties

All Student sponsors must retain all of the documents listed in Sponsor Guidance Appendix D and must do so in accordance with guidance set out therein.

Student sponsors are also under a specific duty to report on all the students and child students that they themselves sponsor, regardless of whether that student is currently studying at their own institution, a partner institution or on a work placement. Sponsors must notify UKVI if they become aware that any of the students they are sponsoring have been granted leave with the incorrect conditions of stay, if they have reported something through the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) incorrectly or if there are changes that could affect their student sponsor licence.

Any providers that sponsor children to study in the UK under the Child Student route will have additional responsibilities. This often includes ensuring that appropriate policies and procedures are in place for the safety and wellbeing of the children it sponsors.


A sponsor, in addition to its duties, is required to apply for a Basic Compliance Assessment (BCE) every 12 months. This is regardless of the length of time it has taken UKVI to reach a decision on a previous application. It is solely the sponsor’s duty to ensure the application is made on time and failing to do so will often result in the sponsorship licence being revoked. Applications and payment for the assessment can be made through the SMS.

When UKVI carries out a BCE, it will assess the sponsor on the following core requirements. The sponsor must have:

  • A visa refusal rate of less than 10%. This means that of all the CAS the education provider has assigned and that students have relied upon to support a visa application, the total number of applications that have been refused by UKVI is less than 10%.
  • An enrolment rate of at least 90%. This means that of all the students that have been assigned CAS and subsequently granted entry clearance or permission to stay, at least 90% have enrolled on their course within the enrolment period.
  • A course completion rate of at least 85%. This means that at least 85% of enrolled sponsored students have completed their course.

All these requirements must be met by the sponsor on the date the application is made. If a sponsor passes, UKVI will inform them of this via email or letter. Where an assessment is passed during the probationary sponsor period, the sponsor will be granted a full Student sponsorship licence.

If, on the other hand, an assessment is failed, UKVI will inform the sponsor of this, setting out the reasons behind the decision. UKVI will thereafter begin the revocation process and remove the sponsor from the Register of Student Sponsors. There will however be an opportunity to make representation against the revocation decision as long as these are made within 20 working days of the decision.

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How Can NA Law Solicitors Help with Student Sponsor Duties and Compliance?

As experts in UK immigration law, we can offer training, compliance reviews and strategic advice. We are able to work with education providers to enable them to fully understand and satisfy their duties as a Student sponsor.

We provide tailored advice to satisfy each client’s individual needs. We can offer small workshops, one-to-one training or even a dedicated telephone helpline to assist with any queries you may have. We are also able to audit sponsor’s existing compliance procedures to review the systems and policies currently in place. If necessary, we will advise further on the most appropriate remedial action.

Common issues we assist with are:

  • How to prepare for and pass the BCA.
  • The creation of policies and how to implement them in order to minimise refusals of Student visa applications, including those arising under the genuine student test.
  • The most appropriate procedures to adopt when conducting immigration status checks and monitoring attendance.
  • How to structure licences in relation to partnerships and sites.
  • Alternative visa routes available under the permitted paid engagement or visitor visa categories for visiting lecturers.
  • Skilled Worker or Temporary Worker sponsor licence issues.
  • How to conduct right to work checks on students, staff and employees in the prescribed manner.

If you require any further information on sponsor duties and compliance or even the application process itself, please do not hesitate to get in touch for a free 15-minute consultation.

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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