UKBA publishes revised guidance for Tier 4 sponsors (again)

They’re a festive bunch at the UKBA and their seasonal gift to us all is another revision to the Tier 4 Sponsor guidance. In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, we should reflect on “silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given”: the guidance was published on 12 December, without any great fanfare, to take effect the following day.

The changes include:

·         New obligations to and arrangements for maintaining educational oversight, including risk-based interim health checks for private providers who are otherwise subject to a four-year full assessment cycle; the first such health check for providers who were assessed for EO in 2012 will be in 2013. Any provider who fails the health check will not be able to sponsor new students, though they will be able to continue to sponsor existing ones, and must apply for full reassessment within six months.

·         Further information about renewals and the interim CAS limit for 2013.

·         A new definition of pre-sessional course, which makes it clear that this does not cover courses which are designed to give a student fundamental training in the subject areas as a stepping stone to higher study.  This may impact on the foundation programmes run by some HE institutions and private providers.

·         The introduction of a user guide to assist in submitting reports on student activity using the SMS reporting structure.

·         Exempting some listed postgraduate qualifications from the 5 year limit for studying in the UK at or above degree level.

·         An obligation to notify the relevant education oversight body if a “branch” is added to an existing sponsor licence and confirmation that this may trigger a full reassessment.

·         Confirmation, if it were needed, that a sponsor may only assign a CAS for a student studying at a partner institution if that institution has been named as a partner on the sponsor’s licence, and also that any CASs so issued will count towards the sponsor’s HTS assessment.

·         Introducing a transitional arrangement that students who are refused a visa as a result of a credibility testing interview will not count towards the assessment of HTS refusal rate for at least the next year. The transitional arrangement will then be reviewed.

A possible New Year’s Resolution for the UKBA? Fewer, and more comprehensible, changes to the Guidance in 2013, please.

Smita Jamdar
Partner and Head of Education
For and on behalf of SGH Martineau LLP
DD: 0800 763 1332
M:  07909 925946
F: 0800 763 1732
International DD: +44 870 763 1332

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