As schools should know, Appendix D sets out UKVI’s rules regarding the keeping of documents on sponsored pupils. It lists the documents sponsors must keep to comply with their sponsorship duties.
Appendix D last changed in November 2016, when UKVI relaxed the rules for how long sponsors should keep documents. In a significant change, schools only need to keep documents on a sponsored student for the shorter of (i) one year from the end date of sponsorship and (ii) the point at which a compliance officer has examined and approved them. In practice, this means that schools can no longer be asked to provide documents on pupils for whom sponsorship ceased twelve months or more ago.
January's change is less welcome and as it is fairly detailed we have included the relevant wording below verbatim. The words underlined are new.
“For migrants in the Tier 4 (Child) Student category who are going to be cared for in the UK in a private foster care arrangement during their stay, you must, as soon as you become aware of the migrant’s arrival, provide details of the name of the foster carer and of the address where the foster carer and the migrant will be living, to the local authority in whose area the child will be living. In addition, where a Tier 4 (Child) Student is already in the UK and a private foster care arrangement subsequently commences, you must provide details of the name of the foster carer and the address where the foster carer and the student will be living, to the local authority in whose area the child will be living as soon as you become aware of the change in their care arrangements. This is to ensure that the local authority is made aware of the arrangement as soon as possible. You must keep a record of the notification to the local authority.”
In other words, schools are reminded that they must be able to provide evidence to UKVI compliance officers that they have informed the local authority wherever a sponsored pupil is in a private foster care arrangement. To emphasise the importance of this sponsor duty, paragraph 3.31 of document 2 of the Tier 4 Sponsor guidance informs sponsors in no uncertain terms, “If you fail to do this, we will immediately revoke your licence.”
The academic progression rules rarely affect independent schools and their sponsored pupils. The rules are to ensure that students applying to study a further course in the UK are progressing academically and are not merely seeking to extend their stay in the UK. Pupils do not need to demonstrate academic progression in a number of circumstances which tend to apply to independent school pupils, viz: if pupils are making a Tier 4 (Child) Student application in the UK or overseas; if they are making their first Tier 4 (General) application; or if they are making a Tier 4 (General) application overseas.
January's rule change doesn’t alter these basic principles, but does create an additional requirement, as follows: “If a student is exempt from demonstrating academic progression, the sponsor must confirm this and set out why in the CAS. Caseworkers may request further evidence when deciding applications.” (our emphasis)
So from now on, schools should routinely include an explanation in each CAS that the sponsored pupil is not subject to the academic progression requirement for one of the reasons given above, eg: “Pupil X is exempt from demonstrating academic progression as this is an application for a Tier 4 (Child) Student visa”.
Students applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa are subject to strict requirements regarding the demonstration of funds for living costs. In particular, UKVI only takes into account money already paid to the sponsor on account of accommodation costs up to a limit of £1,265.
This can present difficulties for pupils applying for a Tier 4 (General) visa at a boarding school where they have prepaid more than £1,265.
In a small but welcome change, the Tier 4 Policy Guidance now makes it clear that all amounts paid to a boarding school can be taken into account, so reducing the quantum of funds required to be evidenced, as part of the pupil’s visa application.
Schools should be aware of how their graduating pupils are required to provide evidence of their qualifications as part of their applications for further sponsored study in the UK, for example at University.
Annex 5 of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance explains how Tier 4 students receiving International Baccalaureate or A-Level results should make their application. The Annex is required as the IBO no longer produces paper documents showing the official confirmation exam results, and paper certificates for A-Level results are no longer being produced in time for students to make their visa applications.