Tier 4 Child Student Sponsor Licence Immediate Changes


Following the explanatory memorandum to the statement of changes to the Immigration Rules presented to Parliament on 13 July 2015 (HC 297), Parliament has brought into effect from 3rd August 2015 amendments to the Immigration Rules.

The Immigration Rules have now been amended to require Tier 4 Child student only be sponsored by independent schools that do not hold an academy status. The change applies to all Tier 4 child applications that are made on or after 3 August 2015.

Currently, the Home Office are reviewing their records to assess which schools currently hold a Tier 4 sponsor licence with an allocation to issue Child Certificate of Academic Study (CAS), as well as checking with the Department for Education databse (‘Edubase’) to find out if the establishment is classified as an Independent School. Upon receiving details of the establishment from ‘Edubase’ the Home Office are sending automated emails to affected schools stating that:

“We [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Home Office] have taken action to set your current allocation of Tier 4 Child CAS to zero, as you are no longer permitted to issue CAS under this category.”

Those that have had their Tier 4 Child CAS allocation reduced to zero but submitted an application for a Tier 4 Child CAS leave to enter or remain on or after 3 August 2015 will be refused. However, any CAS that has already been issued for leave to enter or remain will be valid. Students that are currently sponsored by a school under the Tier 4 Child category and hold a visa that has yet to expire are allowed to continue with their current course of study.

With the new school term soon approaching, the Home Office is offering a short window for schools that have been incorrectly categorised to have their category amended. Should an independent school be incorrectly categorised and wish for the error to be amended they are required to email into tier4sponsorshipcaseworking@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk by 4 September 2015 with evidence from the Department for Education.

Schools that are not classified as an independent school, or schools that do not have sufficient evidence to demonstrate they can be categorised as an independent school will not be required to carry out any further action. The Home Office will make the necessary steps to remove the Tier 4 Child category from their sponsor licence, or should the school solely hold a Tier 4 Child category sponsor licence they will be removed from the register of sponsors by early September 2015.


With over 4700 open academies in the UK, this change will have a huge impact on the Education sector’s financial prospects. The radical change by the Government comes as no surprise while the Government find ways to drastically reduce immigration figures.

The change will mean that the UK’s schooling doors are only open to those that are intending to be taught in an independent school. With fee-paying (independent) schools charges varying from as low as £3,000 per annum and over £21,000 per annum for day pupils, the UK Government seems to be looking to filter the incoming student pool to the financially well off or to gifted students that can secure a form of scholarship.

The recent change has narrowed the Tier 4 (Child) route to now only allow children attending independent schools, meaning that foreign nationals aged 16 and 17 who intend to come to the UK for further education course designed to prepare them for entry to higher education, such as degree pathway courses will be required to secure a Tier 4 (General) visa.

How can we help?

As the Home Office intend to make drastic changes to the Tier 4 Student visa category, it is important that Educational establishments are up to date with their compliance and knowledge of such changes.

Non-compliance with the rule changes could lead to sponsor licence applications being rejected, or sponsor licences being suspended. The clamp down on non-compliance was demonstrated earlier this year with reports of approximately 65 colleges losing their licence and over 600 students being removed from their course of study due to failures to comply with the Home Office requirements and standards.

We at DavidsonMorris have assisted a number of high profile education establishments with compliance with the Immigration Rules and Regulations. We offer a range of services to the education sector, which include:

• Advice on the most effective Licence structure for your education institution taking into account any branches, partner institutions and campuses;
• Conducting mock audits to ensure compliance with Home Office standards;
• Provide HR/ Student Advisors with immigration support, one off training updates and ongoing professional development programmes;
• Guidance on how to meet PBS Sponsorship compliance and Right to Work obligations;
• Represent client interests and concerns at Westminster Parliamentary Forums and immigration lobby group meetings that we regularly attend and at Home Office operational meeting.

Educational establishments or prospective international students that wish to seek assistance with complying with the numerous upcoming Tier 4 changes can contact us at info@davidsonmorris.com or on 020 7494 0118.


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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