If you are running an educational establishment and wish to recruit overseas students for their studies, you need to obtain sponsor license from the HOME OFFICE. This is permission from the HOME OFFICE to the UK educational establishment allowing taking on overseas students under the point based system.
The educational establishment needs to provide documentary evidences of physical and trading existence of the business and are also required to maintain certain set of HR policies and procedures in order to make a successful application.
The HOME OFFICE may also visit the business premises to see whether the documents provided truly reflect the nature and the extent of the business and whether the UK establishment have HR policies in place or not and whether there are set procedures in place to meet the stringent reporting duties. If they are happy with all the paperwork and are satisfied with the HR policies and other procedures, they can approve the application for a sponsor license.
Once approved, they can either give an A – rated license or a B – rated license.
A-Category: This is issued when the HOME OFFICE finds everything in perfect order and place and are satisfied with the UK establishment’s HR policies and other procedures. Once this is issued, the educational establishment may then commence enrolling overseas students.
B-Category: This is issued when the HOME OFFICE is generally satisfied that all the requirements are being met but has concerns about some minor issues. This is a temporary stage and the educational establishment is required to follow a certain plan of actions to upgrade to category A. The issuance of a B category license is generally followed by an approved plan of action for that particular educational establishment, that needs to be followed in order to be upgraded to A – category.
Educational establishments can only sponsor overseas students if they have a valid A category license.
- Duration of License: The license is issued for a period of four years and it has to be renewed upon completion of four years, if the UK establishment continues to recruit overseas students.
- Duration of the Process: If all the process goes well, it takes an average time of about 8-10 weeks for the HOME OFFICE to give their decision.
- Suspension of Sponsorship License Application: The Home office may often visit the business premises to check the educational establishment’s compliance with the requirements and if they find out any discrepancies in the records or are not satisfied with the HR procedures and policies, they may suspend the sponsorship license of the company. A suspension letter is issued and the educational establishment is generally given 20 working days to respond to any queries or concerns raised in the suspension letter. It is really important to seek legal help at this stage as it is often difficult to understand the legal jargon available on the Home office website relating to the sponsorship license procedure. We have handled a number of such matters and have been able to get relief to our clients.
- Judicial Review: A refusal of sponsorship license application does not attract full rights of appeal and the applicant (i.e. UK establishment) has either to lodge a fresh application by addressing the issues raised by the HOME OFFICE or if dissatisfied with the decision may lodge Judicial review proceedings against the decision.
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