On 24 June 2014, as we reported, the Minister for Immigration and Security announced that the Government was taking urgent action to prevent 57 colleges and 3 universities from being able to recruit international students pending the outcome of a further investigation.
A Working Group was formed which includes a number of organisations that work with international students and those who sponsor them to consider the many complex issues that arise when sponsor licences are suspended and revoked.
Not all those institutions who were affected will see their sponsor licences revoked and, indeed, UKVI has already acted swiftly in ensuring that the University of Bedfordshire is able to resume international student recruitment. (The University’s licence was not suspended but its ability to issue CAS was temporarily restricted).
The UK Council for International Student Affairs (‘UKCISA’) has provided an important update on the progress being made by the Working Group and has stated that:
“Following a number of meetings of the Working Group in July and August, the following principles have been either agreed or proposed to assist genuine students to continue with their studies:
- Students and sponsors should receive regular and timely updates on UKV&I action taken and especially on licences revoked to enable students to plan their future studies – and the Home Office’s original factsheet will be re-edited and re-issued by the middle of August;
- All Sponsors whose licences are revoked may be asked to provide details on those students who will need to find places elsewhere so that they can be adequately advised and assisted;
- Curtailment letters for those at revoked institutions will, following the rules, allow students 60 days from the date of letters to find another institution/sponsor (or leave the UK) and it has been proposed that these may not be issued until these details have been received;
- The normal rules on ‘established presence’ (allowing students who have been in the UK for more than 6 months to show lower maintenance levels) will apply – and UKV&I has been asked to consider extending this to others;
- UKV&I have also been asked to consider another concession to allow those students who need to repeat parts of a course and might not be able to do so within the normal ‘5 year rule’;
- Sponsors who take students from institutions whose licences have been revoked will need to undertake their normal compliance checks but it has been suggested that there is no reason in principle why they should not accept such students who have not, individually, been found to be at fault;
- UKV&I have been asked to consider exercising a discretionary approach should any receiving institutions find that visa refusals for such students affects their HTS status;
- Institutions who have their licences revoked still have a duty of care to ensure their students can complete their studies and the expectation is that they will honour this and help to make appropriate arrangements.”
We will continue to update our website as news of further progress comes in.