A Tier 4 sponsor is an education provider that offers courses of study to full-time students in the UK.
Applications are submitted online with a submission sheet and supporting documents subsequently forwarded to the Home Office together with a fee of £536 (unless paid online). Consideration of an application is usually concluded within four weeks and may involve an inspection. As part of the application process you will need to confirm you meet the eligibility and suitability requirements as an education provider, allocate four sponsorship management roles to one or more suitable staff and ensure you establish and maintain compliance with the statutory responsibilities with regards to reporting, record keeping and the issuing of certificates (Certificates of Acceptance for Studies or CAS).
If your application is successful, the Home Office will issue you with a probationary sponsor licence. This is a transitional period lasting 12 months whilst you demonstrate you can fulfil all of your duties as a Tier 4 sponsor. You must apply for a basic compliance assessment after 12 months.
What to expect if you’re applying for a sponsor licence as an educational establishment
When you apply for a sponsor licence as an educational establishment, you must apply for the number of Confirmations of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) you would like to assign in your first year. A CAS is a virtual document, similar to a database record. You complete a process that produces a unique CAS reference number, which you give to the student. A CAS is your way of confirming, as a licensed sponsor, that you want to sponsor an overseas student to study in the UK and, to the best of your knowledge, that student meets the requirements of the rules for a valid CAS and will be able to make a successful application for leave to come to or stay in the UK.
The number must include existing students who you expect to apply for an extension and new students you want to sponsor. You may request a CAS allocation of up to 50 per cent of your current student body which must comprise UK, EU or Swiss nationals. You must provide evidence to support your request, as well as your educational oversight report. The Home Office will consider a range of factors in order to reach a decision on your CAS allocation.