Offering foreign students the opportunity to study in the UK is a good way to encourage diversity and financial activity in your educational organisation. You’ll need a Tier 4 sponsor licence to allow students into the UK. Our immigration team can advise you on how to apply, renew or manage your licence.

Although immigration laws are becoming stricter, UK universities and colleges are still attracting foreign students to come and study here. Applying for and managing your sponsor licence can be complicated but our team can give you practical advice to guide you through the process.

If you’re part of an educational establishment such as a higher education institution, call our immigration team on 0808 271 2602 or contact us online and we’ll set up a meeting to discuss your sponsor licence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Tier 4 Sponsor Licence?

A Tier 4 licence allows UK education providers to sponsor non-EEA (European Economic Area) students to come and study full or part-time in the UK.

There are two categories of Tier 4 licences:

  • Tier 4 (General) student – for students aged 16 and over who come to the UK for their post-16 education
  • Tier 4 (Child) student - for students aged 4-17 who come to the UK to be educated by independent schools only.

You can apply for a Tier 4 licence if you’re an educational provider such as:

  • A higher education institution (universities, community colleges and collegiate level institutions)
  • An independent school
  • A publicly funded college.

There are some cases where you won’t be able to apply for a Tier 4 sponsor licence (like academies and state funded schools). It’s best to contact our immigration solicitors on 0808 271 2602so we can advise on if you’ll be eligible to apply.

Back to top

What Tier 4 Licence Regulations Do I Need To Comply With?

Having a Tier 4 sponsor licence means you’ll have to follow certain rules while your licence is valid. These can include:

  • Meeting acceptable educational quality standards (like financial stability and suitable premises and teaching staff) set out by the Home Office
  • Being assessed by an Educational Oversight body who’ll decide if you meet educational quality standards
  • Keeping up-to-date records of non-EEA students
  • Telling the Home Office if the status of any of your non-EEA students change.

Complying with your sponsor duties is time consuming and can be complex depending on your type of institution. Contact our solicitors if you need advice on how to comply with your Tier 4 licence.

Back to top

How Can Irwin Mitchell help?

We can help you with:

  • Applying or renewing your Tier 4 sponsor licence
  • Challenging the Home Office if your licence is revoked or suspended
  • Auditing your institution to ensure you’re compliant with Tier 4 regulations
  • Solving any problems we find from our audit and help you avoid them in future
  • Training staff that will use the online Sponsor Management System (SMS) to carry out their duties correctly and making sure they know their responsibilities.

Our immigration lawyers can provide pragmatic advice to help you avoid breaking immigration law. We have experience in dealing with first time or renewal applications and helping you manage your sponsorship duties while your licence is valid.

Back to top

Why Choose Irwin Mitchell?

Our immigration team can help you solve immediate issues like a revoked licence, but we also build long-term relationships so we can advise you as and when you need it. We can assess your institution and design a strategy that’s specific to how you operate. By breaking down complicated immigration rules, we’ll make them easy to follow and implement in your organisation.

Whether you need advice on what documents to provide for a first time application or your staff need support to manage your licence, we have the expertise to advise you. We’ll make sure we cover any areas we think could cause problems when you need to renew your licence.

With offices across the UK our immigration solicitors can help you wherever you’re based.

Back to top

Contact Us

Call our immigration solicitors on 0808 271 2602 or contact us online to discuss your situation.

Awards & Accreditations

We’re proud of the recognition we’ve received for our business legal work. For a list of awards and accreditations, please visit our awards page.

Chambers & Partners 2020 logo

Business News

Our lawyers are regularly asked to provide expert insight, advice and analysis for the national media. Take a look at the stories below to see what we’re saying, as well as some of the recent deals we have completed for our clients here in the UK and abroad.

Testimonials & Feedback

We truly value the feedback we receive from both our clients and legal accreditation societies, such as The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

UK Chambers & Partners Leading Firm 2018

Clients say "The firm provides excellent service and good value for money" and they are "accurate, very detailed and able to work efficiently in restricted timeframes."

Chambers & Partners, 2018

"Incredibly responsive and able to present technical issues in an understandable format"

Legal 500, 2020
Legal 500 UK Leading Firm 2022

“Bilingual services that attract clients from China. Flexible and considerate team. Services are outstanding.”

Legal 500, 2022

We Work Nationally

We have offices in major cities throughout the UK and our lawyers can arrange to visit you or your business in person if necessary. We also have international capability, with global links to other legal specialists.

See our latest health and safety updates before visiting our offices