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School Immigration Advice

School immigration advice

Independent Schools

Immigration law advice for independent schools

Over 600 independent schools are registered with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as licensed Student and Child Student sponsors, sponsoring approximately 16,000 overseas pupils each year. Those pupils are not only an important source of income for schools but also help broaden their international reach and add to the vibrancy of school life.

However, as 'beneficiaries' of the immigration system, independent schools are held to a high standard when UKVI assess their immigration compliance, taking an uncompromising line when breaches are uncovered. This brings pressure to bear on schools, pupils and staff – particularly those who have a front line role in dealing with UKVI.

A working knowledge of immigration law and practice has therefore never been so important to independent schools as today.

Our experienced team of specialist immigration lawyers have extensive knowledge of the independent school sector. We provide impartial and confidential advice, guidance, and support on all aspects of immigration law tailored to the specific needs of your school.

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Specialist immigration advice for schools

Tom Brett Young, Head of our Immigration team, advises schools and other education providers on every aspect of UK immigration law, particularly in relation to sponsorship compliance. He also advises on immigration applications made by individuals in all categories, be they students, high-net worth individuals or strategically important new hires.

Tom co-chairs the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association's Economic Migration Working Group and is regularly invited to speak on UK immigration and deliver training for fellow immigration practitioners, lawyers of other disciplines, and clients.

Matthew Burgess provides unique insight and expertise in all aspects of immigration for independent schools, ranging from sponsor compliance, applications and renewals, pupil visa applications and dealing with UKVI and the Home Office. Formerly General Secretary of the Independent Schools Council, and now a consultant to the firm, Matthew led the independent sector’s engagement with the Home Office on the introduction of Tier 4 (as it was then known).

Child student visa sponsorship experts

Our experienced immigration lawyers assist independent schools with all aspects of their activities as sponsors, including:

  • pupil eligibility under the Child Student and Student immigration routes
  • completing and assigning the 'CAS'
  • pupils with Child Student and Student visas transferring from other schools
  • the Child Student and Student visa application process and requirements
  • failsafe record keeping
  • teaching partnership arrangements – how to document your relationship with pre-sessional providers
  • annual sponsorship activities: CAS allocation requests and the Basic Compliance Assessment
  • complying with your reporting duties
  • esnuring that all other pupils at the school have the 'right to study' in the UK (including the circumstances in which vistors to the UK are permitted to study) 
  • agent reporting
  • preparing for UKVI compliance visits
  • what to do when things go wrong

We also assist school's with immigration issues affecting other aspects of their activities, such as:

  • sponsorship of foreign-national workers under the Skilled Worker route
  • employing voluntary workers from overseas under the Charity Worker route
  • employment of foreign-national workers outside of the sponsored Worker and Temporary Worker categories
  • conducting Right to Work checks
  • challenging threats to suspend or revoke a Worker or Temporary Worker sponsor licence (which may also have an impact on a school's Student/Child Student licence)

Proactive legal support

We have developed a range of services to assist independent schools comply with their duties as Child Student visa sponsors, including:

  • Immigration manager
    The online tool developed specifically for schools, in partnership with ITQ Metis, is designed to help schools and parents navigate the sponsorship and visa application process.

  • Compliance assessment visits
    We visit schools to conduct 'mock UKVI audits' to assess and report on the school's compliance with their sponsor duties.

  • Immigration helpline
    We support schools with Child Student visa sponsorship issues as and when they arise both over the phone and by email/in writing. The helpline is available on either a 'pay as you go' basis or as a fixed monthly retainer.

  • Immigration training
    Our popular Immigration Essentials for Independent Schools training seminar provides a detailed introduction and refresher for those involved in the Child Student sponsorship process. We also deliver free immigration update webinars. Additionally, we can deliver bespoke, on-site (or remote) training to help you comply with your reporting and compliance duties and address any specific issues at your school.

  • Policies and checklists to help ensure sponsorship compliance
    Our compliance checklists help schools self-audit against the requirements of the Student Sponsor Guidance and Immigration Rules. In addition, we have a range of policies to help schools put in place robust sponsorship compliance processes, including policies on conducting 'right to study' checks, a sponsor licence operations guide, and a safeguarding of overseas pupils' policy.
  • Crisis management
    From time-to-time schools run into problems with immigration compliance. Our team of specialists can assist with any difficult issues which might arise, such as:
    - visits from UKVI
    - failed inspection reports
    - visa refusals threatening the annual Basic Compliance Assessment
    - threats from UKVI to revoke the licence
    - issues arising from a change of ownership

Subscribe to our Schools Law Brief or sign up to OnStream, our free compliance portal, to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in immigration law.

For specialist immigration advice or training from leading independent schools lawyers, please contact Tom Brett Young on 0121 227 3759.

VWV's education team are commercially astute and keep up to speed with trends and moves in the independent school sector - they are therefore able to provide relevant and up-to-date advice to clients.

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Meet the Team

Our independent schools lawyers have a broad variety of legal expertise and offer a full legal service to the independent schools sector

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Barney Northover - Partner & Education Lawyer in Bristol - VWV Solicitors

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Simon Bevan - Partner & Education Employment Lawyer in Bristol - VWV Solicitors

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Tabitha Cave - Partner & Dispute Resolution Solicitor in Bristol - VWV Solicitors

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