Sponsor Licence – Students

In order to sponsor students from outside the EU, UK educational institutions must first apply to UK Visas and Immigration for a sponsor licence. Students must have a offer from an educational institution that has made a successful sponsor licence application before they can apply to come to, or remain in, the UK for study.

What is the Student Sponsor Licence? 

The Student and Child Student routes are the primary immigration routes for international students who wish to study full-time, or part-time in some limited circumstances, in the UK. These students must be sponsored by an education provider that holds a Student Sponsor Licence. The Education Provider is known as a sponsor. The Student Sponsor Licence allows a UK Education Provider to be registered on the UKVI’s Register of Licenced Sponsors to be able to sponsor students from outside the EU to study in the UK.

What are the basic principles of a Student Sponsor Licence? 

The Student Sponsor Licence regime is based on two basic principles. They are that: 

  • sponsorship is a privilege and not a right so those who benefit most directly from student migration (education providers) must help to prevent the system from being abused; and
  • those applying to come to the UK to study must be eligible to do so, and must have a reputable education provider who genuinely wishes to teach them.

When an education provider is granted a Student Sponsor Licence, significant trust is placed in them. With this trust comes a responsibility to act in accordance with the Immigration Rules and all parts of the Student Sponsor Licence Guidance. UKVI has a duty to ensure that all sponsors discharge these responsibilities, and will take compliance action when it considers that a sponsor has failed to do so, or otherwise poses a risk to immigration control.

Academies and state-funded schools, including those with sixth forms, cannot hold a Student Sponsor Licence or sponsor students under the Student or Child Student routes. If we receive an application for a Student Sponsor Licence from such an educational establishment, UKVI will reject it and refund the fee.

The Visitor and Short-term Study (English language) routes are available for students to come to the UK for short periods of study.

What are the 2 types of Student Sponsor Licence? 

An Education Provider can apply for a Student Sponsor Licence in two categories: 

  • Student. This route is for migrants aged 16 or over who come to the UK for their post-16 education.
  • Child Student. This route is for students aged 4-17 who come to the UK for their education. Child Students may only be educated at independent schools. 

If you have any doubts about applying for the Student Sponsor Licence and which type of Student Sponsor Licence, please contact our immigration lawyers for expert advice.

What are the eligibility requirements for a Student Sponsor Licence? 

In order to obtain a Student Sponsor Licence, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that an Education Provider must be: 

  • a genuine education provider that has acceptable educational quality standards, and is operating lawfully in the UK, complying with all appropriate rules and regulations; 
  • considered eligible and suitable to hold a Student sponsor licence; and 
  • capable of carrying out its duties as a sponsor. 

An Education Provider must meet these criteria in order to be granted a Student Sponsor Licence, and continue to meet them in order to retain its licence.

In order to establish whether or not an Education Provider meets these criteria, UKVI will consider a number of factors, including (but not limited to) its history and background, the Key Personnel named on its application and anyone involved in the day-to-day running of the organisation.

UKVI views any history of dishonest conduct or immigration crime, either by the relevant organisation as a corporate entity, or by individuals in the organisation, seriously and may refuse an application solely on the basis that such activities have taken place.

UKVI will also look at an education provider’s policies and processes, including how student attendance is monitored, to ensure it will be able to fulfil its sponsorship duties.

UKVI may visit an Education Provider before making a decision on its application for a Student Sponsor Licence. If UKVI has significant doubts about the ability of an education provider to fulfil its sponsorship duties after visiting it, it may refuse its application.

The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances. You may want to speak to our expert immigration lawyers for legal advice.

What else do you need to know about the Student Sponsor Licence? 

You can apply for a Student Sponsor Licence online. At the end of the application, you will need to print out the submission sheet and post it to UK Visas and Immigration, along with the correct supporting documents.

A Student Sponsor Licence is valid for four years from the date it is granted, unless it is revoked or surrendered.

A sponsor is given Probationary Sponsor status when it is first granted a licence. A Probationary Sponsor must demonstrate that it can fulfil its sponsorship duties, will continue to do so, and can be trusted to hold Student Sponsor Licence status. When a Probationary Sponsor applies for, and passes, its first annual Basic Compliance Assessment, it will be given Student Sponsor Licence status.

A sponsor must apply to renew its Student Sponsor Licence before it expires, or it will be removed from the Register of Student Sponsors, and will not be permitted to continue sponsoring existing students or to recruit new students.

All sponsors, including Probationary Sponsors, must comply with the Student sponsorship duties including the duty to apply for and pass an annual Basic Compliance Assessment.

Making a Student Sponsor Licence application with OneLaw Chambers

At OneLaw Chambers, our immigration solicitors and barristers regularly assist with Student Sponsor Licence applications in order for applicants to remain and settle in the UK. We have assisted many foreign national applicants to prepare and submit successful Student Sponsor Licence applications and we have represented clients from all over the world.

Whether you require expert immigration advice on the requirements of the Immigration Rules, an independent immigration assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a Student Sponsor Licence or professional immigration representation with preparing your Student Sponsor Licence immigration application, our immigration solicitors and barristers can help you.

We are committed to ensuring that our immigration solicitors and barristers prepare every immigration visa application with utmost quality and skill so that successful outcome is achieved every time. Our immigration solicitors and barristers operate in a friendly and cooperative manner to provide our clients with the best client care and service during the entire immigration application process. 

To discuss your Student Sponsor Licence application with one our immigration solicitors and barristers, please contact our Immigration lawyers on 0207 489 2044 / 0208 616 1819 or complete our enquiry form with your details.


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