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Immigration Advice for Higher Education Institutions

We have a highly regarded and experienced team of immigration lawyers who also have extensive knowledge of the HE sector, so can provide advice, guidance and support on all aspects of immigration law tailored to the specific needs of HEIs.

Compliance with immigration laws is of crucial importance to the HE sector.  International students sponsored under Tier 4 of the Points Based System are not only an important source of income for universities but also help broaden their international reach and add to the vibrancy of life on campus.

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The ability to attract and employ highly qualified and skilled academics and other staff from around the world is also extremely important and so most HEIs also hold a Tier 2 sponsor licence to enable them to do this. 

The regulatory burden associated with sponsorship under both Tier 2 and Tier 4 continues to increase and presents a number of challenges which HEIs need to respond to.

How Can We Help You?

Immigration law is forever changing and HEIs need to ensure that they are up to date with the rules and regulations in order to meet the numerous requirements with which they need to comply.

We can provide day to day advice and assistance or can enhance the in-house immigration expertise that many higher education institutions have through strategic advice, bespoke training and audits.

International Students

Our expertise includes:

  • Assistance with the requirements for sponsoring students under Tier 4
  • Advice on steps which can be taken to meet the requirements of the Basic Compliance Assessments
  • Challenging threats to suspend or revoke Sponsor Licences
  • Advice on the challenges facing HEIs in the face of Brexit
  • Advice on complying with the sponsorship requirements of the Doctorate Extension Scheme
  • Audits of international student files to ensure compliance with record keeping and reporting duties

Graduate Entrepreneur Applications

This immigration category allows graduates with world-class ideas and entrepreneurial skills to remain in the UK to develop their business ideas. HEIs who have an established process for identifying, nurturing and developing entrepreneurs amongst their graduates and postgraduates are eligible to participate in the scheme using their discretion to decide which of its graduates to support. We can support universities with applications to join the scheme and advise on compliance with the ongoing requirements.

Employing International Staff

We can advise on:

  • Advice and assistance with meeting your Tier 2 sponsor duties.
  • Carrying out an audit of your sponsored workers' files to ensure that you are complying with your record keeping and reporting duties.
  • Requesting and assigning restricted and unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship.
  • Eligibility of migrants already in the UK to switch immigration categories.
  • Support with entry clearance and further leave to remain applications.
  • Advice on complying with the UK's laws on preventing illegal working, including employing undergraduates, postgraduates and PhD students who are subject to restrictions on their hours of work.
  • Challenging threats to suspend or revoke a Tier 2 or Tier 5 sponsor licence.


We can provide comprehensive and bespoke immigration law training to ensure that HEIs are fully aware of the sponsorship obligations and are up to date with any changes which will impact on the sector, including:

  • Tier 4 compliance and the requirements for entry under specific immigration routes
  • Tier 2 compliance
  • Complying with the law on illegal working
  • The implications of Brexit for HEIs and individuals

Immigration Audits

We offer our HEI clients an immigration audit service, reviewing your procedures and processes to ensure you are compliant and ready for a visit from the UKVI's compliance teams. We can tailor an audit to your specific requirements.

We know only too well how easy it is for sponsors to get into difficulty complying with their sponsor duties and we have a wealth of experience in advising clients on how to proactively manage those duties so that problems do not arise. For those sponsors who are already having problems we are happy to assist and discuss your options with you.

Next Steps

If you have an immigration related query, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

We provide free regular updates on immigration developments which we feel are of direct relevance to HEIs. If you wish to be added to our mailing list please subscribe.

For more information, please contact Tom Brett Young on 0121 227 3759.

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Meet the Team

Our Education team is ranked in the top tier of Chambers & Partners UK wide category and Legal 500.

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Bettina Rigg - Partner & Head of Higher Education - VWV Law Firm
Jane Byford - Partner & Employment Lawyer - VWV Law Firm
Clive Read - Commercial Property Partner - VWV Birmingham

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