As part of our continuing fortnight-long focus on student immigration, this post highlights some of the duties placed on sponsors of overseas students under Tier 4 of the immigration points based system.

Record keeping is a key aspect of sponsors' duties. The UKBA requires sponsors to keep proper records of all students being sponsored, including contact details and a copy of biometric residence permits (previously known as the identity card for foreign nationals) and to provide these details to the UKBA on request. On a wider note, sponsors should also be familiar with the provisions of the UKBA's "Appendix D" document (a separate item to the Tier 4 guidance document), which requires sponsors to keep evidence relating to matters such as students' attendance and absence, history of contact details, copies of evidence assessed in making offers of places to sponsored students. Sponsors will need to take care to have appropriate checklists and systems in place to ensure that all relevant documentation is obtained from the student and held securely for these purposes. In addition, sponsors will need to ensure that they hold and process such information in accordance with their wider obligations such as the Data Protection Act 1998.

Sponsors are also under a duty to co-operate with the UKBA to enable the UKBA to manage properly the sponsorship system. The UKBA's guidance provides that the UKBA expects sponsors to allow UKBA staff access to any of the sponsor's premises on demand (whether visits are pre-arranged or unannounced) and to comply with any good practice guidance produced by the UKBA or any sector body.

In the event that the details of any sponsor change (such as a change of address or key contact), this information must be relayed to the UKBA via the Sponsor Management System for the UKBA to update its records accordingly. Sponsors are subject to a duty to notify the UKBA within 28 days in instances where they are the subject of a takeover or merger with another body. As above, a sponsor must have adequate safeguards in place to take steps to report any changes to UKBA in order to avoid the risk of any action for non-compliance being taken against the sponsor.

More to follow tomorrow on sponsorship duties and obligations.....