Student Sponsor License

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What is a Student Sponsor License?

If you are an education provider and wish to enrol international students at your institution in the UK, you must first apply for a Student Sponsor Licence. With this Licence you will be allowed to sponsor students or child students who do not have a UK residence visa to live and study in the UK. 

Academies or academic schools, state-funded schools including those with sixth forms, cannot apply for student sponsor status. Applications from any such type of educational establishment will be automatically rejected. 

Your educational establishment or institution can apply for a student sponsor licence in either of the two following categories: 

  • Student route, which is for international students aged 16 or over 
  • Child Student route, which is for students aged 4-17

Eligibility Requirements ​

To obtain a Student Sponsor Licence for your organisation, you must demonstrate that you will comply with the requirements in the Sponsor Guidance. Most importantly, this means that you are a genuine provider of acceptable educational quality courses and standards. Also, you are operating lawfully in the UK and considered suitable to hold a student sponsor licence. 

Some more important factors included with becoming a Student Sponsor are: 

  • Nominating the appropriate and authorised people to fill the sponsor management roles, these include: 
  • Authorising Officer – a senior and competent person who is responsible for the overall actions of staff and any named individuals that have access to the sponsorship management system (SMS); 
  • Key Contact – the main point of contact between your institution and UKVI in relation to the student sponsor licence application;   
  • Level 1 user – this is the named individual who will have access and manage the day-to-day activities of the student sponsor licence; 
  • Level 2 user – a Level 1 user with more restricted access. 
  • Completing the online application form for a Student Sponsor and pay the relevant fee 
  • Preparing the correct supporting documents to the UKVI, in accordance with the Sponsor guidance with your online application 
  • Estimate and provide the number of students you intend to sponsor in the first year of your licence 
  • Once approved you will be granted access to an online sponsorship management system which is the tool that allows you to carry out your day-to-day activities as a sponsor 


Nominated Individuals

It is very important to pick the nominated individuals carefully since the UKVI will carry out checks on everyone against the role they are nominated for.  

The nominated individuals must: 

  • Be based permanently in the UK 
  • Be either a paid member of your organisation or someone holding an official role 
  • Not work for you as a consultant or contractor on specific projects only 
  • Not be subject to bankruptcy restriction order or undertaking, or a debt relief restriction order or undertaking 

If the nominated persons are not suitable for either of the roles stated above, your licence will not be approved, or revoked if you already hold student sponsor status. 

The nominated individuals must not have: 

  • Any unspent criminal convictions 
  • A fine issued by UKVI in the past 12 months 
  • Breached any laws or been reported to UKVI

For questions or more information on the nominated individual criteria, online application process, or correct relevant supporting documents, do not hesitate to contact our student sponsor guidance experts today for further advice. 

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Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies is a very important document which you must assign and issue to each international student you wish to enrol and sponsor within your institution. It is an electronic or virtual document containing important information about the international students personal, financial and course details. 

Once you have formally accepted an overseas individual for study at your institution, you must complete the process to draft, assign and generate the unique CAS document. Once issued, the CAS, which is also a digital document, links with UKVIs digital database. 

Once the CAS document is generated, it confirms that: 

  • You wish to sponsor the named overseas student for study in the UK at your chosen institution or campus 
  • The student satisfies the requirements for a CAS to be issued and they will be able to make a successful visa application  
  • You accept the responsibility to report to the UKVI any changes and progress to the individual’s study with your institution 


You must provide a copy of the unique CAS document to the correct student so that they may check it for any mistakes and if correct then apply for the correct type of student visa online. 

Without a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies, an overseas student cannot submit a valid student visa application. Any application submitted without the CAS digital reference number will be rejected as invalid and not considered by the UKVI. 

With the Student Sponsor Licence application, you must estimate and provide the number of CAS required in the first year of your licence. This will include any new students that you wish to sponsor and any existing students (already in the UK) who you wish to apply for an extension visa. The limit of CAS you can request for the first year is 50% of your current UK National students, and this request must be supported with evidence. 

Licence fee and consideration

The fee for a Student Sponsor Licence is £536.00. 

When you have submitted the application, supporting documents and a signed submission sheet, your application will take up to 4 weeks to be decided. You will be notified by email reply when UKVI have reached a decision. 

In considering your application, the UKVI may decide to visit your institution at the address stated online or that confirmed in your application. During these visits, UKVI will check that all your sites meet the education standards in the UK.  

You must: 

  • Have achieved the required rating at a ‘student educational oversight inspection’; whereby a student educational oversight body will make this assessment in respect of all sites included in your student sponsor licence application; 
  • Have undergone a ‘statutory education inspection’; with all courses that you will be offering to international students having been considered as part of the inspection; or 
  • Be recognised as an overseas Higher Education Institution (publicly funded colleges and independent schools)


For the first 12 months after your licence is approved, you will have a probationary licence, in this time you must demonstrate further to UKVI that you can fulfil all the responsibilities and duties as a Student Sponsor Licence holder.  

Upon completing the initial 12-month probationary period you must apply for compliance assessment to confirm that you meet the core requirements to remain a Student Sponsor. To learn more about the annual Basic Compliance Assessment, please contact our team and ask to speak with someone in the student sponsor (corporate) team. 

Requirements to sponsor international students under the Student or Child Student routes

In considering your application, the UKVI will consider several factors including your history as an education provider, and the suitability of each person nominated for the roles stated above and involved in the day-to-day running of your organisation. 

As stated above, you must ensure prior to applying that you have been inspected and approved by the relevant educational oversight body. Most, if not all educational oversight inspections include the following requirements: 

  • Quality assurance, including academic governance; and 
  • Financial sustainability, management and governance 


Each provider must achieve and maintain the required rating when inspected by its educational oversight body, for the entire duration that it holds student sponsor status.  

For every successful student sponsor licence application, it is important to provide honest and credible information which can also be supported by evidence. This assesses your ability to act faithfully and ensures you fulfil the sponsorship duties.

Sponsorship duties and compliance are based on two important principles: 

  • Sponsorship is a privilege and not a right so those who obtain a student sponsor licence must help UKVI to prevent the system from being misused; and  
  • Student applicants must be eligible and have a reputable education provider who is able to assess this.


The types of documents that can be useful are your policies and processes, especially how student attendance is monitored. You must always have these on hand because the UKVI can visit you before deciding and if there are still any doubts it may refuse your application. 

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If you would like more advice or to discuss your visa application with one of our UK Visa specialists, you can contact our team of specialists on 0161 843 9000 or complete our enquiry form below.