An increasing number of overseas students are running into difficulty renewing their student visas where the educational provider is not listed on the Tier 4 Register of sponsoring colleges, according to Immigration Adviser Evelie Padadac.
Since Tier 4 of the Points based System was implemented on 31 March this year, colleges must be licensed by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to take international students on student visas.
In country students already in the system do not come to light until they want to extend their visas.
The new 56 page ‘TIER 4 (G)’ form (APPLICATION FOR A GRANT OF LEAVE AND BIOMETRIC IMMIGRATION DOCUMENT UNDER TIER 4 GENERAL STUDENT), which replaces the FLR form, clearly requests the ‘Sponsor Licence Number’ in section 3.
Evelie, an OISC registered adviser with Bison UK, has advised several students this week whose visas are expiring but are studying at colleges not yet licensed by the UKBA.
Some have even been told by the non-registered college that their “applications have been sent to the Home Office”, which leaves the students in a very dangerous position since the application, in the unlikely event that it had been submitted, would be rejected.
Evelie was worried that they could be left stranded if their visas expired. She said:
“The students are being kept in the dark by the college, which has applied for the sponsor licence, whilst the clock is ticking on their visas.
“If their visa expires they will have to leave the UK and could be branded an ‘overstayer’.
“Others have had their applications returned by the UKBA advising them to “register with a licensed college”.
You can check the Sponsors Register on the ‘Sponsoring students under the points-based system for immigration‘ of the UKBA website.
Colleges appearing on the register will be given a Tier 4 ‘A’ or Tier 4 ‘B’ rating based on a scoring system, but the main point is that they must be listed.
Colleges not yet listed may be one of the hundreds of educational institutions still be going through the accreditation process with one of the accreditation bodies such the British Council, BAC or ASIC.
ASIC publishes a directory of colleges accredited or currently going through the process.
Once a college is accredited it can apply for a Tier 4 licence, which will take around six weeks and involve an inspection visit by a UK Border Agency officer.
Cynthia Barker, Centre Manager of Majestic College, which has received its Tier 4 Licence, said the whole accreditation and licensing process could take up to nine months.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Studying in the UK, Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: