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Immigration and visa overview

The UK immigration system is managed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), part of the Home Office. It is known as the points-based system for immigration.

There are various different tiers, or categories, of immigration depending on the reason why the migrant wishes to come to the UK.

The role of visa sponsors

Many of the tiers require the migrant to have a sponsor, like an employer or education institution. The migrant’s visa is tied to that particular sponsor.

The sponsor has various responsibilities and must hold a licence for any tiers under which they wish to sponsor migrants. Without a licence, sponsors are not able to recruit staff or students from overseas.

Students with visas

Most international students on full-time degree programmes will need a Tier 4 student visa.

Students on short programmes like English courses, or those already here as visitors or on exchange, may be able to study on a Short-term study visa.

Certain other types of visa also permit study and should be checked with the Visa and International Support Team.

Sponsoring students with Tier 4 visas

In order to recruit international students needing a visa to study in the UK, the University must hold a Tier 4 sponsor licence. This requires us to sponsor all our students on Tier 4 visas, and we have a range of monitoring and reporting duties for them.

As a sponsor, we are also required to make sure that all our students have valid permission to be in the UK.

The University's responsibility for students with Tier 4 visas begins as soon as we issue them a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS), which allows them to apply for the visa. Our responsibility ends if any of the following things happen:

  • they leave the UK following completion of their course
  • their visa expires
  • we report to the Home Office that we have stopped sponsoring them
  • they switch sponsor or immigration category

Complying with the Tier 4 requirements

If the University does not meet the sponsor requirements set by the Home Office, it will lose its sponsor licence. This would mean that the University would be unable to recruit any students from outside the EEA who need a visa to study in the UK.

As well as ongoing checks to make sure of compliance and annual renewal processes, the University is subject to audit by the Home Office at any point.

Checking if a student is on a Tier 4 visa

On the STU screen in SITS, the 'report to UKVI' box will be ticked if the student is on a Tier 4 visa. Alternatively, you can ask the Visa and International Support Team for a list of Tier 4 students. This list changes regularly and therefore the report must be refreshed on a regular basis.

Staff with visas

To recruit staff from overseas, the University is also a Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsor, which is managed by HR.