The Tier 4 Guidance for Sponsors is split into three documents as follows:

  • Document 1 – Applying for or Renewing a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence and Highly Trusted Sponsor Status;
  • Document 2 – Assigning CAS and Sponsoring Students; and
  • Document 3 – Sponsor Duties and Compliance.

UKVI have now updated all of these three documents and the new guidance is to be used for all Tier 4 applications made on or after 4 March 2015.

Most of the changes which have been made are points of clarification or update definitions and include the following:

In all three documents 

  • The definitions of “Settled Worker” and “UK Higher Education Institution” have been updated and new definitions have been added in relation to sites and teaching partnerships.

In document 1 

  • The guidance has clarified the ways in which the sponsor licence can be structured, particularly in relation to sites and teaching partnerships and has a number of transitional arrangements until 30 September 2015.  
  • The sponsor guidance also clarifies the documentary requirements for adding more than one site or partner institution to your sponsor licence application.

In document 2 

  • UKVI have added into the main body of the guidance the requirement that, before issuing a CAS, the sponsor must check the student’s English language ability, which in some circumstances requires checking using a SELT.  This was previously in the addendum.
  • The guidance also clarifies how many CAS are needed to cover a pre-sessional course and a main course where the student has already achieved level B1 but the main course requires level B2.

In document 3 

  • UKVI have clarified that they will take action against the institution if it fails to adhere to its sponsor duties in respect of any student that the institution is sponsoring across any of its sites.  The guidance goes on to state that where there is considered to be non-compliance relating to a partnership arrangement between more than one Tier 4 sponsor, then action will be taken against the sponsor that it responsible for the non-compliance.
  • Finally, the updated guidance states that one of the discretionary grounds for revocation of the sponsor licence is if any of the institution’s “key personnel” (namely authorising officer, key contact, level 1 user or level 2 user) was named as “key personnel” at any previous institution which was refused specific course designation, or had specific course designation removed, during that individual’s time at the institution.