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30 Oct 2014

Important reminder for schools with Tier 4 licence

Any Tier 4 school whose Highly Trusted Status is due for renewal in November 2014 should consider very carefully whether to apply for renewal in October instead.

Changes to the HTS rules mean that the maximum permitted visa refusal rate will drop from 20% to 10% on 1 November 2014, but also that UKVI will only consider visa refusals from 1 August 2014. Schools are permitted to apply for HTS renewal up to one month in advance of their scheduled renewal date. Schools with a November renewal date need to consider the impact of the new rules and whether it is better to make an early application in October under the current rules. In many cases, an early application will be advantageous as the 20% visa refusal rate will allow greater flexibility. In some cases, however, where the school has a high (greater than 20%) visa refusal rate for the period to 31 July 2014 but a much lower (less than 10%) visa refusal rate from 1 August 2014, an application in November will mean that the earlier visa refusals will be discounted.

Schools should also note that UKVI will not issue reminders of HTS renewal dates. This should be checked via the sponsor management system. ISC remain concerned about the changes over the summer and the risk that renewal of a schoolā€™s HTS status next year might be rejected on the grounds that too many pupils have had their visa applications rejected. ISC have instructed specialist immigration Counsel to assist on two objectives:

  • To provide expert legal support to us in our negotiations with the Home Office to achieve an outcome for school sponsors and their pupils which recognises the low immigration risk posed by pupils at independent school and which takes proper account of the Government's particular responsibilities to children under domestic and international law and, accordingly, allows pupils and their school sponsors to be treated differentially from other types of student/educational sponsor; and
  • To provide legal and practical content for intended ISC guidance to schools, overseas pupils and staff facing the consequences of non-renewal of HTS based on visa refusals.
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