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UKBA Tier 4 Sponsor Requirements and Obligations. Sarah Linton, July 2013 Locke Lord (UK) LLP 201 Bishopsgate London EC2M 3AB. Introduction. UKBA is taking a hard line with Tier 2 (employees) and Tier 4 (students) sponsors

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ukba tier 4 sponsor requirements and obligations

UKBA Tier 4 Sponsor Requirements and Obligations

Sarah Linton, July 2013

Locke Lord (UK) LLP

201 Bishopsgate

London EC2M 3AB

  • UKBA is taking a hard line with Tier 2 (employees) and Tier 4 (students) sponsors
  • Failure to comply with sponsor licence duties will lead to UKBA taking action
  • Failure to comply may lead to revocation and downgrade of licence, preventing sponsorship of international students
  • If UKBA suspends or revokes a licence, there is no right of appeal (although there may be a judicial review remedy)
  • UKBA can conduct unannounced visits
consequence of non compliance
Consequence of non-compliance
  • Prepare for worst case scenario
  • Suspension of licence:
        • UKBA must provide reasons for the suspension and suggest a plan of action. There is a penalty fine of £1,000
        • Institute would not be able to assign certificate of sponsorship if the licence is suspended
  • Revocation of licence
        • There is no appeal process. The case is forwarded to the Home Secretary; Judicial Review
general responsibilities of tier 4 general sponsors
General responsibilities of Tier 4 (General) Sponsors

Verify the student’s suitability to be sponsored for the courses

Comply with record keeping duties for sponsored students. Documents that must be held on sponsored students’ files (either physically or electronically) are listed in UKBA guidance document Appendix D

Adhere to reporting duties via Sponsor Management System. Must report most events (see below) in 10 working days

Ensure that any changes to the key licence personnel are reported to UKBAe.g. change in Authorising Officer

Monitor sponsored students’ attendance and academic progress

how can universities prepare for a ukba audit
How can universities prepare for a UKBA audit?
  • UKBA can conduct an unannounced audit at any time
  • Aim of Audit:
    • UKBA will assess if a sponsor is carrying out its sponsor duties
    • UKBA will assess five individual areas of a sponsor’s administration processes:
      • monitoring immigration status and preventing illegal recruitment
      • maintaining migrant contact details
      • record keeping
      • migrant tracking and monitoring
      • student recruitment practices
what will ukba check
What will UKBA check?
  • Proof that the institution has been inspected, audited or reviewed by one of the appropriate bodies listed below:
    • Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
    • The Bridge Schools Inspectorate
    • Education Scotland
    • Education and Training Inspectorate
    • Ofsted
    • Schools Inspection Services
    • Estyn
    • Independent Schools Inspectorate
  • May check planning permission or local planning authority consent to operate the type/class of business functioning at the address
what will ukba check1
What will UKBA check?
  • Sponsor must ensure that all relevant Appendix D documentation is kept and maintained up to date
  • Keeping documents:
    • Passport
    • Visa stamps
    • Biometric Resident Permit
    • Record of student’s absence/attendance. This may be kept either electronically or manually
    • A history of student’s contact details (residential address, telephone number, mobile telephone number). This must be updated regularly [Note: although UKBA does not require a sponsor to keep personal email address of students, if the sponsor has one, this record should also be included.]
    • (If applicable) academic technology approval scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate
    • (If applicable) details of private foster care arrangement for child students
    • Evidence used to obtain an offer (eg. copies of references, examination certificate, etc)
other information you must retain report
Other information you must retain/report

You must tell UKBA if anything you have reported through the sponsorship management system is incorrect and why it is incorrect

You must retain information in your own records about any appeal which a student makes against refusal of leave decisions. If a student’s appeal is successful and leave is granted, you must tell UKBA if his/her start date is delayed and provide a new enrolment date

You must give UKBA details of any third party, in the UK or another country, that helped the institution to recruit international students. [Note: UKBA may contact these agents as part of the audit process.]

what will ukba check2
What will UKBA check?
  • UKBA is entitled to request other documents, these may include:
    • Student recruitment or admission practices and procedures
    • International Student Prospectus/Student handbook/fee assessment criteria
    • Letters sent to applicants and students as part of the recruitment process
    • Procedures for student suspension and withdrawal of studies
    • Statement of student responsibilities
    • Lecture and seminar timetables
    • Examination details and results
  • Documents can be kept either electronically or on paper
  • UKBA is entitled to take documents or student files after the audit for further investigation
what to expect on the day of a tier 4 inspection
What to expect on the day of a Tier 4 inspection
  • UKBA may:
    • Interview staff
    • Check documents
    • Monitor immigration status
    • Migrant tracking and monitoring
    • Interview students
  • Identify key staff who will be involved in an audit
  • Plan what evidence to be provided to UKBA to address compliance
  • Cooperate with UKBA at all times (e.g. allow access to any site, whether visits are prearranged or unannounced, comply with requests for information, etc)
reporting responsibilities
Reporting responsibilities
  • What should a sponsor report?
    • Students who do not enrol for their courses
    • Student contact stops (i.e. absent without permission for a significant period of time)
    • Students who withdraw from or defer their courses*
    • Sponsorship ending for other reasons (e.g. move to another school)*
    • Significant change in circumstances of sponsor or students

*Note: If sponsor reports these events, it must also report the last recorded residential address and contact number of students.

reporting responsibilities1
Reporting responsibilities
  • Accurate and prompt reporting of student activity is essential for “Highly Trusted Sponsor” (HTS) status
  • Sponsors must report on all Tier 4 students that they sponsor even if they are:
    • on a course (including a pre-study course) at a partner institution or a branch named on their CAS; or
    • doing a work placement forming part of their course
  • Need to regularly communicate with placement providers to ensure student attendance
reporting responsibilities2
Reporting responsibilities

In general, time spent on work placement cannot exceed:

  • 33 per cent of the total length of the course
  • 50 per cent of the total length of the course where the course is at or above NQF/QCF6 or SCQF9 level and takes place at a higher education institution or where the course forms part of a study abroad programme
  • 50 per cent where the student is sponsored under Tier 4 (Child) and is aged 16 or above
monitoring attendance
Monitoring Attendance

Must continually monitor student attendance and identify when a student has missed 10 consecutive expected contacts

Must inform UKBA if a student does not attend 10 consecutive expected contacts and you have withdrawn sponsorship as a result

What counts as “contact”?

student attendance
Student Attendance

Examples of expected student contact:

1. Attending formal academic or pastoral care activities including:

  • a lesson, lecture, tutorial or seminar
  • a test, examination or assessment meeting
  • a meeting with a supervisor or personal tutor
  • a research-method or research-panel meeting, writing-up seminars or doctoral workshops
  • an oral examination (viva)
  • an appointment with a welfare adviser or international student adviser

2. Submitting:

  • assessed or unassessed coursework
  • an interim dissertation, coursework or report

3. Registration (for enrolment or matriculation)

time limits for reporting
Time Limits for Reporting
  • A-Rated Sponsor:

If a student misses 10 consecutive expected contacts without permission, sponsor must tell UKBA within 10 working days of the 10th missed contact that it intends to withdraw sponsorship of the student

  • Highly Trusted Sponsor: (2 options) either:
    • report individually within 10 days of the 10th consecutive missed contact as above, OR
    • set two checkpoints (re-registrations) during any rolling 12-month period. Must report any students who have missed 10 consecutive expected contacts without permission leading up to that checkpoint, and sponsor is therefore withdrawing sponsorship of the student
    • Must report these students within 10 working days of completing the checkpoint process
overriding reporting objective
Overriding reporting objective

Sponsorship duties aim to:

prevent sponsors abusing UKBA’sprocess for assessing them;

quickly find and address any patterns of student behaviour that may cause concern;

address weak processes which can cause those patterns; and

monitor sponsors’ and students’ compliance with immigration rules.

Sponsors therefore have an overriding duty to spot and report to UKBA any patterns of absence by students (e.g. patterns of absence by a student for lectures/ seminars even though he/she regularly turns up for mid-term registration).


No reporting duties

  • In most cases, it is the sponsor’s own responsibility to judge whether a student absence is authorised or unauthorised
    • (e.g. if a student is absent for a prolonged period, because he/she is ill or pregnant, you may decide this is authorised)
  • Circumstances where reporting is not required:
    • Student has missed 10 expected contacts but the sponsor decides that it will continue to sponsor him/her [Note: UKBA expects these cases to be very rare and the sponsor must retain evidence of decision as the compliance officers will monitor these exceptions during an audit.]
    • Student has taken an absence from studies that sponsor has authorised (e.g. illness) and that will not affect the student’s course completion date
    • Student has completed the studies on time
    • Note: need to keep document trail for audit purpose
r eporting duties
Reporting duties
  • If a sponsor re-establishes contact with a student and wants to resume sponsorship, it must notify UKBA if:
    • the student’s permission to stay in the UK has expired; or
    • UKBA cancelled it while he/she was not studying with the sponsor ─ he/she will have to apply for new permission to stay before he/she can start studying again
  • Any information which a sponsor reports to UKBA about students’ non-attendance, non-compliance or disappearance will be used by UKBA in relation to its enforcement action against the students
communicating to students
Communicating to students
  • Publish on all admission documents, relevant websites and student guides/handbooks the responsibilities of a Tier 4 student
  • Make complying with UKBA’s rules a condition of the study offer
  • Inform students that the University’s reputation as a sponsor is dependent on the accuracy of the information the student provides
  • Consider encouraging students to report attendance issues to the University should the student identify any problem
communicating to students1
Communicating to students
  • International student statement of responsibilities may include:
  • Students must bring visa and passport to the University upon registration for the University to take a copy
  • Students must also bring visa and passport to the University if they receive a visa extension and/or make any changes to their passport or visa
  • All new passports during leave period need to be provided to the University for inspection
  • Students must keep their contact details up to date
  • Students must make sure they have enrolled and registered their modules by the deadline set by the University
communicating to students2
Communicating to students
  • International student statement of responsibilities may include:
  • If students miss or foresee that they will miss any classes, tutorials, assignments, exams or appointments with tutors they must notify the University immediately with reasons and supporting documents
  • Students must inform the University if they wish to transfer to a different course, withdraw from their studies or take leave of absence
  • In general, depending on courses, students should not work more than 20 hours a week during term time, although they can work full time during the vacation period
  • Students must inform the University if they plan to have a long-term absense for any reason
  • Students must inform the University if they intend to study abroad or take part in an exchange programme or to work overseas
  • Consider setting up a contact point for students who have concerns about their ability to comply with their student visa conditions or have questions on their student immigration responsibilities
tips for managing attendance
Tips for managing attendance

Ensure no student is allowed to study if she/he does not have leave to remain

Establish checkpoint/re-registration to verify up to date student’s contact information and course attendance

Consider setting up electronic signing-in/swipe card facilities at entrance to lecture theatres, tutorial rooms, etc.

Consider asking students to sign attendance sheet for each lecture, seminar, lesson, tutorial, etc.

Maintain evidence of English language testing

Consider conducting independent audit checks regularly

tips for managing attendance1
Tips for managing attendance

Make sure all sponsored student files contain all Appendix D documentation

Implement a student attendance policy

Monitor student attendance during placements (consider setting up a placement team that reports to the university on a regular basis)

In cases of non-attendance, need to send warning letters to students

Require students to attend an urgent meeting if no records of attendance are seen after warning letter or if there are series of attendance issues


Sarah Linton T: +44 (0) 20 7861 9061


Sarah Linton is a Partner in the London office and Head of the UK Employment Practice.

Her practice encompasses all aspects of employment law, including employment contracts, termination agreements, disputes, European and domestic works councils, strategic European HR issues, employment aspects of international transactions, data protection and privacy matters, employment litigation including unfair dismissal, wrongful termination, discrimination claims and bonus disputes.

Sarah also advises on business-related immigration law. Sarah regularly contributes to legal and other publications on employment law-related subjects, in particular on the transfer of undertakings (TUPE).

about locke lord
About Locke Lord
  • Full-service, international law firm with offices in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
  • Opening of Hong Kong office and strategic expansion of London presence demonstrates Firm’s commitment to better serve clients’ needs worldwide
  • Our clients range from Fortune 500 companies and middle market public and private companies to start-ups and emerging businesses
  • London office has 7 key practice areas: Banking & Finance; Corporate; Dispute Resolution; Employment; Insolvency & Restructuring; Real Estate; Insurance & Reinsurance
ukba tier 4 sponsor requirements and obligations1

UKBA Tier 4 Sponsor Requirements and Obligations

Sarah Linton, July 2013

Locke Lord (UK) LLP

201 Bishopsgate

London EC2M 3AB