Your institution has Tier 4 sponsor licence problems

Last modified: 14 September 2016

Most students complete their studies in the UK with no issues around their visa or Tier 4 sponsorship.  However, occasionally the Home Office (UK Visas and Immigration) might not be happy with a Tier 4 sponsor, which can cause difficulties for that institution and for its students. 

In this section, we explain the implications for you, as a Tier 4 student, if your institution has its sponsor licence investigated or revoked (taken away) and if your institution closes. Most of the information is for students who are in the UK.

We have included guidance for doctorate extension scheme applicants in our Tier 4 information. If you want to apply under a different work route after your studies, for example, Tier 2 or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) see Applications for work after study.

If you are outside the UK and your Tier 4 sponsor has problems with its licence, see You are outside the UK.

You can also find detailed information in Annex 1 of the Home Office's Tier 4 policy guidance.

Sponsor removed from Tier 4 register

Last modified: 24 August 2016

The Home Office can remove an institution from the register of Tier 4 sponsors while it is investigating concerns about it. The result of the investigation will be either that the institution is returned to the register of sponsors, or that its licence is revoked and it is no longer a Tier 4 sponsor. During this period of investigation, an institution cannot issue any new confirmations of acceptance for studies (CAS), but it can continue to sponsor its students who already have Tier 4 immigration permission.

If the result of the investigation is that the licence is revoked, see Tier 4 licence revoked for how this affects you.

A university, college or school that is removed from the register of Tier 4 sponsors should provide information for its current and prospective students. Check its website or social media for details of helplines and information about how you might be affected. This is the first step you should take; the Home Office can make special arrangements for individual Tier 4 sponsors, depending on the reasons for its removal from the register of sponsors.

Institution has closed

Last modified: 14 September 2016

An institution that closes is required to notify the Home Office. If the institution has not already lost its Tier 4 sponsor licence, the Home Office will withdraw it with immediate effect. All confirmations of acceptance for studies (CAS) that have been assigned become invalid, and current students' Tier 4 immigration permission will be affected.

If you still want to come to or stay in the UK as a Tier 4 student, you must have a CAS from a different Tier 4 sponsor and make a Tier 4 application to study there instead. See Next steps for more information.

Tier 4 licence revoked

Last modified: 14 September 2016

An institution which has its Tier 4 sponsor licence revoked by the Home Office is no longer allowed to sponsor Tier 4 students. This affects its current and prospective students.

If you have Tier 4 immigration permission that is not about to expire, the Home Office can choose to allow your institution to continue teaching you and other Tier 4 students for a certain period, perhaps until the end of your course or maybe until the end of a term or semester. This is different in each case and depends on a number of factors, including the reasons for revocation of the sponsor licence.

If the Home Office believes that you were involved with any of the reasons that your institution lost its licence, for example you breached your conditions or knew that the institution was not a genuine education provider, it can end your Tier 4 leave immediately and require you to leave the UK. 

If you are not permitted to complete your studies but you were not involved with the reasons for revocation of the sponsor licence, or if you need to make a Tier 4 application or are waiting for a decision on an application, see the information on the right.

After you have read the information in this section, you should go to Next steps

Sponsor has a zero CAS allocation

Last modified: 14 September 2016

The Home Office can decide to stop a Tier 4 sponsor from issuing any confirmations of acceptance for study (CAS), even if the sponsor remains on the register of Tier 4 sponsors.  This is usually called a zero CAS allocation.

If this happens to your sponsor, but you already have a CAS, you can still use that CAS to make a Tier 4 application in the normal way. Your Tier 4 application will not be held or delayed, unless the Home Office decides to remove your institution from the register of Tier 4 sponsors.

Students who already have Tier 4 leave and who are sponsored by an institution that now has a zero CAS allocation may continue with their studies, and they may enter or re-enter the UK using that leave. 

If you need a CAS in order to apply for Tier 4 leave, you cannot make this application unless or until your sponsor is allowed to assign CAS again. If you are about to complete a doctorate, you will not be able to apply under the doctorate extension scheme if your 'expected end date' passes or your leave expires before your sponsor is allowed to assign CAS. This is because doctorate extension scheme applications can only be made in the UK and you must be sponsored by the same institution that sponsored your Tier 4 studies.

We advise all students studying at (or planning to study at) an institution with a zero CAS allocation to monitor the situation closely by keeping in touch with the sponsor.  See our guidance on what will happen if the institution is later removed from the register of Tier 4 sponsors, or if the Home Office revokes its sponsor licence.

Legacy sponsor

Last modified: 14 September 2016

A small number of Tier 4 sponsors are 'legacy sponsors'.  Legacy sponsors have a zero confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) allocation. If your institution becomes a legacy sponsor you can continue to study with it and you can enter and re-enter the UK using your current visa.

If your sponsor issued a CAS to you before becoming a legacy sponsor, you can use it to make a Tier 4 application in the normal way. However, your sponsor will not be able to issue you with a new CAS in order for you to extend your Tier 4 permission, unless it is to re-sit an exam or repeat a module. Therefore if your current leave is shorter than your course of study you should seek advice from a student adviser immediately.

If you are about to complete a doctorate, you will not be able to apply under the doctorate extension scheme. This is because doctorate extension scheme applications can only be made in the UK, before your 'expected end date', and you must be sponsored by the same institution that sponsored your Tier 4 studies.

You should also check with your sponsor if their legacy sponsor licence is due to expire before the end of your course as this may also mean that you are unable to complete your course.

Sponsor fails annual compliance check

Last modified: 14 September 2016

When an institution first obtains a Tier 4 licence from the Home Office it will be listed as a 'Probationary Sponsor' on the register of Tier 4 sponsors. After having this status for 12 months the institution must apply to obtain full Tier 4 Sponsor status.

An institution that has Tier 4 Sponsor status must apply to the Home Office every 12 months to have a basic compliance assessment. Your sponsor must be able to show that most of the students to whom it issues a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) are granted Tier 4 immigration permission, enrol on and complete their course, and that it and its students comply with all relevant immigration requirements.

Failure to pass this annual assessment means a sponsor will usually lose its Tier 4 licence. For information about how this could affect you, see Tier 4 sponsor licence revoked.

Next steps

Last modified: 14 September 2016

This section explains your options if you stop studying at your sponsor institution because it has a problem with its Tier 4 licence or has closed. It is very important that the Home Office has your current UK postal address and your email address so that important correspondence can reach you; see our information about reporting a change of address to the Home Office.

When your Tier 4 sponsor's licence is revoked, your Tier 4 immigration permission (leave) is usually cut short (curtailed). You are normally given a period of 60 days in which to find another Tier 4 sponsor, make a different type of immigration application or leave.

If you choose to leave the UK or make another application, make sure you go or submit your application before the end date of your current leave. Your curtailment letter or email from the Home Office will give the new end date. If your leave has not, or not yet, been curtailed, the end date is as printed on your vignette or biometric residence permit. However, unless you have been told otherwise in writing, you should assume that your leave will be cut short to 60 days from the date on which the Tier 4 licence is revoked or the institution closed, so do not wait too long to leave or apply; sometimes correspondence does not reach you and you risk staying in the UK without any leave.

When your leave has been curtailed it will lapse (automatically expire) when you leave the UK. This will not show on your visa or biometric residence permit, but it will be on the Home Office's computer system. This means you must not leave the UK and try to re-enter using the same visa. Instead, you should apply for a new visa before you return to the UK. Likewise, even if you have not yet been informed by the Home Office that your leave has been curtailed, you should not try to re-enter the UK using leave thatis due to be curtailed.

It is important to understand what having your leave curtailed to 60 days means:

  • If your sponsor has closed or lost its licence, this does not in itself mean that you have breached your Tier 4 immigration conditions or committed any immigration offence
  • Having been sponsored in the past by an institution that has closed or lost its licence is not a breach of your conditions or an immigration offence  
  • You are not being formally removed or deported from the UK
  • Having your leave curtailed does not in itself have any repercussions for future UK immigration applications

If you want to stay in the UK and switch to another Tier 4 sponsor, you do not have to wait to receive a curtailment letter from the Home Office before you make arrangements to do that. Your new Tier 4 sponsor might want more information about your situation, including details of whether your leave has been or is going to be curtailed. This is reasonable, and you need to give the new sponsor your permission to make enquiries about you with the Home Office.

The information in this section does not apply to you if your leave has been curtailed with immediate effect (it ends now, not in 60 days' time), if you used deception or false documents in a previous application, have committed a criminal offence since you were last granted leave, or if you have breached your immigration conditions. You should seek advice from an immigration lawyer before you make any new application.

You are outside the UK

Last modified: 14 September 2016

This page explains how you are affected by your education provider's problems with its Tier 4 sponsor licence if you are not in the UK.

You might not have applied for your Tier 4 entry clearance (visa) yet or you might be waiting for a decision on your application. If your entry clearance has been granted, you might not yet have travelled to the UK, or you might be outside the UK for other reasons.

You will be affected by problems with your Tier 4 sponsor's licence if you have been in the UK with Tier 4 immigration permission but are currently elsewhere. This is the case whether you left the UK before or after those problems started.


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