The UK Border Agency has today implemented the final phase of the points-based system’s student tier rendering paper based visa letters ‘obsolete’.
The implementation across the worldwide network of British Embassies has resulted in two major changes for Tier 4 sponsors.
Visa letters have become obsolete
From today, all potential Tier 4 students applying to us from inside or outside the UK must use a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) in their application. All applications that do not contain a CAS will be automatically refused.
Sponsors must now provide all potential students with a CAS reference number and sponsor licence number (SLN). You will also need to give them all the information they will need when making their application. This information is sometimes called a ‘CAS statement’; it is up to sponsors to decide its format and how to send it to their potential students. A ‘CAS statement’ may contain:
- student name;
- student date of birth;
- course title;
- course start and end date;
- details of any financial sponsorship/deposits taken;
- documents that should be included as part of an application to prove qualifications;
- CAS number; and
- ATAS certificate (if appropriate).
This additional information will assist our caseworkers and entry clearance officers when making decisions on migrant applications under Tier 4.
If a prospective student has a visa letter issued before 22 February 2010, they can no longer use it to apply for a Tier 4 student visa. Previously issued visa letters not yet submitted must replaced with a CAS.
For out-of-country students, the date of application is the date when the application fee is paid – so a prospective student must be in possession of a CAS if they are paying their application fee today or later.
Mandatory reporting on students who have been assigned a CAS
Sponsors now must report via the sponsorship management system (SMS) on students who have used a CAS in an application to us. For further guidance, please see Sponsor duties – Tier 4 page.
Before sponsoring educational providers can issue CASs to migrants, they must have performed the transition exercise on the SMS. You can find full details on the Transition exercise page.
Today has also seen enhancements to the Tier 4 SMS:
- Users can now create a new CAS from the details of a previous CAS created in a batch.
- The main site study address will be mandatory for the assignment of a CAS.
All changes and updates to the SMS will be reflected in the SMS user guides and policy guidance, which are available on the UK Border website.
You can find information about the SMS, and the updated SMS user guides, in the SMS guidance section.
Revised Tier 4 migrant application forms are also available on the website for applications made from today.