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Visa Application Checks - Reducing the Refusal Rate

  • United Kingdom
  • Education - Briefings


It is becoming increasingly important for institutions to ensure that its prospective and current Tier 4 students’ visa applications are not refused. Visa refusals have an impact on the institution's retention rates, reputation and fees. It is also very likely that the current refusal rate of  less then 10%  necessary to pass the annual Basic Compliance Assesment will be lowered in the not too distant future. As such it is recommended that sponsors address the issue now and implement appropriate measures to reduce any risks to the sponsor licence.

Tier 4 student applications are considered stringently by UKVI. As a result of this rigorous approach coupled with what may be a lack of support offered to students before they are required to complete the very lengthy forms in, what for many will be, a different language, it is unsurprising that some visas are refused. In addition, only very minor indiscretions may cause refusals. We have previously seen visas refused for the student being 1p under the minimum maintenance threshold or for forgetting to include a document.

For smaller institutions the 10% threshold may be easily exceeded by having only a handful of refusals. Even for those Institutions who have issued fewer than 50 CAS in the assesment period (where UKVI will apply a discretionary assessment rather than a hard and fast 10% rule) this does not mean that the refusal rate becomes irrelevant. Larger institutions with high volumes of international students may also find that in the past they have not always been able to provide students with the support they require to correctly make their applications. As a result many institutions are putting measures is place to attempt to reduce their refusals. Such measures include, only accepting applications from students from ‘safe’ countries; providing comprehensive guidance to students; skype calling students to coach them through the process and checking student documents before they are submitted to UKVI.

More increasingly we have found that our clients are seeking to outsource this function in order to gain certainty and reduce risks. 

Example: We have recently assisted a large Russell Group University to improve its refusal rate. We assisted the University by undertaking a review of visa application documents from all students progressing from lower level courses to degree or masters level courses. We highlighted issues with the current procedures and checklists being utilised and provided a report containing best practice guidance and useful checklist documentation to be implemented alongside current processes.

How can we help?

The Eversheds Sutherland immigration team help institutions by undertaking the application checking service. Many of our clients find that outsourcing the checks allows certainty, reduced risk and is cost effective. We have extensive experience of reviewing visa applications before they are submitted, providing advice on how to improve the applications as well as assisting with administrative review if a visa refusal is received.

Step 1 – Scoping conversation

We will hold a no obligation, free call with you to discuss your current practices, concerns and needs.

Step 2 – Assistance with visa application review

We can assist in reviewing visa applications and corresponding with applicants so as to reduce the risk of refusals as follows:

• provide ad hoc visa application advice and review of documents;

• undertake reviews of applications for a fixed price;

• liaise with applicants to ensure that the application is ready and submitted correctly;

• visit your institution for a visa application audit;

Step 3 – Ongoing support and training

We can also support you from a policy and procedure perspective to ensure best practice going forward:

• help you to implement better processes to help reduce the refusal rate; and

• provide specialist on site training.

For more information contact

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