The Home Office has announced a new premium customer service for Tier 4 sponsors.
The service will be offered to sponsors in three stages as follows:
- Tuesday 23 July 2013 for account management service pilot sponsors;
- Monday 2 September 2013 for publicly funded highly trusted sponsors; and
- Monday 4 November 2013 for highly trusted sponsors (HTS).
How to apply
Tier 4 sponsors will be eligible to apply for the premium customer service providing they:
- have highly trusted sponsors (HTS); and
- have not been issued with a civil penalty in the last 3 years, and any civil penalties issued before that have been paid in full.
According to the Home Office, the premium customer service will allow educational establishments to provide an “enhanced level of customer service to international students” and benefits are to include a dedicated account manager within the premium service team and priority treatment on all matters relating to their responsibilities as a sponsor of overseas students.
The announcement follows a pilot scheme and a number of clients of this firm were involved.
The service is optional and the fee for it has been set at £8,000.
Given the fees that are already involved in maintaining a sponsor licence, including Home Office and QAA/ISI fees, many sponsors may choose not to apply for the new service. For those sponsors, the Home Office will run an ‘education helpdesk’, a free email service which, it says, will provide access to expert information on any licence and policy questions a sponsor might have.
We are often asked by clients to provide legal advice on the information that they have received through the various helpdesks that are in operation and we frequently uncover inaccuracies. Our senior level contacts at the Home Office are always keen to hear of such issues and if you receive inaccurate information from either the premium service or the education helpdesk, we can feed that to them if you forward it to us.
The current edition of Chambers & Partners guide to the legal profession recommends Carter Thomas’ legal team as having ‘done a huge amount to develop the law of Tier 4 sponsorship for higher education institutions and colleges’. We are currently working on a number of new initiatives in this area of law, including liaising with our contacts in the Home Office, BIS and the education sector generally. If you have any questions about the new service or about Tier 4 law generally, please contact us.