Tier 4 becomes the Student route

On 5 October 2020, the UK government changed the immigration route for students. What used to be the ‘Tier 4’ route has become the ‘Student’ route. Most of the changes are not significant but they might affect you and might affect the information on this page. We will update the information on this page as soon as possible. You can read the guidance the Home Office has produced.

Your institution has sponsor licence problems

Last modified: 16 October 2020

Most students complete their studies in the UK with no issues around their visa or Student sponsorship.  However, occasionally the Home Office (UK Visas and Immigration) might question whether a Student sponsor has been compliant with its responsibilities, which can cause difficulties for that institution and for its students. 

In this section, we explain the implications for you, as a student with Student or Child Student permission, 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.

If you are outside the UK and your Student 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 guidance.

Sponsor removed from register of licensed sponsors

Last modified: 16 October 2020

The Home Office can remove an institution from the register of licensed Student 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 Student 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 Student immigration permission.

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

A university, college or school that is removed from the register of Student 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 Student sponsors, depending on the reasons for its removal from the register of sponsors.

You have enough Student or Tier 4 leave

You need to make a Student route application

You are waiting for a Home Office decision on your visa application

Institution has closed

Last modified: 16 October 2020

An institution that closes is required to notify the Home Office. If the institution has not already lost its Student 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 or Student immigration permission will be affected.

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

You have Tier 4 or Student leave

You need to make an application under the Student route

You are waiting for a Home Office decision on your application

Student sponsor licence revoked

Last modified: 30 September 2020

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

If you have Tier 4 or Student immigration permission that is not about to expire, the Home Office can choose to allow your institution to continue teaching you for a certain period.  The maximum period your institution may be able to teach you for is up to six months or to the end of the academic year, whichever is the longest.  If the academic year ends on different dates for different students, the Home Office will consider each student's case on an individual basis. Whether or not your institution can continue to teach you (and for how long) depends on a number of factors, including the reasons for revocation of the sponsor licence.  It is very important you seek advice from your institution to see how this applies to you.

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 immigration permission 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 an application under the Student route or are waiting for a decision on an application, see the following information.

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

You have Tier 4 or Student leave

You need to make an application under the Student route

You are waiting for a Home Office decision on your application

Sponsor has a zero CAS allocation

Last modified: 30 September 2020

The Home Office can decide to stop a Student sponsor from issuing any confirmations of acceptance for study (CAS), even if the sponsor remains on the register of licensed Student 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 an application under the Student route in the normal way. Your Student application will not be held or delayed, unless the Home Office decides to remove your institution from the register of licensed sponsors.

Students who already have Tier 4 or Student 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 Student 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 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 licensed Student sponsors, or if the Home Office revokes its sponsor licence.

Legacy sponsor

Last modified: 30 September 2020

A small number of Student sponsors are 'legacy sponsors'.  Legacy sponsors have a zero confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) allocation and are not able to sponsor students to start a new course.  If your institution has been made a legacy sponsor it’s important that you seek advice from a student adviser at your institution.

If your institution becomes a legacy sponsor and you currently hold, or have recently been granted a visa to study, you can continue to study and you can enter and re-enter the UK using your current visa.  

If your sponsor issued you with a CAS to study a new course before becoming a legacy sponsor, the CAS will be invalid and cannot be used to make an application.  If you decide to make an application with an invalid CAS the application will be refused.  If you have already made an application to study a new course and are awaiting a decision, this will also be refused.  Your sponsor will not be able to issue you with a new CAS in order for you to extend your Student permission, unless it is to re-sit an exam or repeat a module.  This is outlined in the Home Office's Policy Guidance.

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 studies.

You should also check with your sponsor if their legacy sponsor licence is due to expire before the end of your course and whether they intend to apply to renew this.  If they choose not to renew their licence this may mean that you are unable to complete your course.

Sponsor fails annual compliance check

Last modified: 30 September 2020

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

An institution that has Student 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 Student 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 Student sponsor licence. For information about how this could affect you, see Student sponsor licence revoked.

Next steps

Last modified: 30 September 2020

This section explains your options if you stop studying at your sponsor institution because it has a problem with its Student sponsor 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.

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.

Curtailment of your Tier 4 or Student leave

Transferring to a new institution

Your new application under the Student route

Starting your new studies

Applications for work after study

Where can I get further advice about immigration issues?

Can I get a fee refund?

You are outside the UK

Last modified: 15 March 2018

This page explains how you are affected by your institutions'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.  

It is advisable to speak to your institution directly, if possible, to enquire how their circumstances or problems with their licence affects you.

College has closed

Sponsor's Tier 4 licence is revoked

Legacy sponsor


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