Changes to the Immigration Rules affecting Tier 4 Sponsors

The UK Government has continued its clamp down on abuse of the Tier 4 visa system for international students, with further tough new requirements recently introduced.

UKBA announced that all current Tier 4 Sponsors, if they are not already subject to inspection or review by one of the designated educational oversight bodies, must apply to the appropriate body by the relevant deadline as detailed in the current sponsor guidance. These inspections and reviews will take place throughout 2012, and the results of each inspection or review will be published on the website of the appropriate educational oversight body.

A failure to achieve a satisfactory inspection outcome from the appropriate body has implications for the sponsor’s ability to sponsor international students under Tier 4 of the points-based system.
The designated educational oversight bodies covered by the announcement are:

  • Quality Assurance Agency offers educational oversight for privately funded higher education providers and pre-sessional providers throughout the UK;
  • Independent Schools Inspectorate offers educational oversight for privately funded further education providers and English language schools in England and Wales;
  • Bridge Schools Inspectorate offers educational oversight for privately funded further education colleges in England and Wales with a clear religious purpose;
  • School Inspection Service offers educational oversight for privately funded further education Montessori and Steiner providers in England and Wales;
  • Education Scotland offers educational oversight for privately funded further education colleges and English language schools in Scotland;
  • The Education and Training Inspectorate offers educational oversight for privately funded further education colleges and English language schools in Northern Ireland.

For sponsors currently subject to the interim limit, the UK Border Agency will take the following actions based on the outcomes of inspections set out above:

  • If the college achieves a satisfactory inspection or review for Tier 4 purposes and the college has also obtained highly trusted sponsor status, it will no longer be subject to the interim limit
  • If the college does not receive a satisfactory outcome for Tier 4 purposes, but the report indicates that follow-up action is required, then the college will remain subject to the interim limit and further action will be required from the college as specified in the report. It will be for the relevant body to confirm whether the college has met the standard within a specified timescale
  • If the college fails the inspection or review for Tier 4 purposes, at the initial stage or following further action, then the college will become a legacy sponsor, and therefore they will be unable to sponsor new international students.

Please view the full article here for further details regarding these changes.

Further changes from April 2012

From April 2012, UKBA will also be implementing the following changes:

  • Work placements – these will be restricted to one-third of the course, unless the course is at degree level and the sponsor is a higher education institution or the student is on a study abroad programme
  • Time limits in Tier 4 – UKBA will limit the time students can spend at degree level to 5 years, with certain exemptions for longer courses and doctorates at higher education institutions
  • Tier 1 Post-study work – this will be closed from April 2012, however a route will be retained into sponsored graduate employment through Tier 2 of the points-based system

If you are a Tier 4 Sponsor or Student and are concerned about how these changes may affect you, please contact us.

Contact Newland Chase