A Visa Letter generates all of the points students have to score for "Attributes" in order to succeed in an application under the Immigration Rules. The United Kingdom Border Agency's Tier 4 of the Points Based System – Policy Guidance makes it clear that to get these points students have to provide the UKBA with the original documents they relied on to get the Visa letter.
But Visa Letters were always a transitional measure, and as the UKBA indicated from the outset, they would be replaced by Confirmations of Acceptance for Studies, known as "CAS"s.
A CAS is not a paper document but a "virtual document similar to a database record". It records that the education provider, who must have acquired a Sponsorship License, has enrolled the student on to the course.
During the transitory period all applicants for entry clearance had to obtain visa letters, and all applicants for leave to remain could either rely on a Visa Letter or a CAS.
From 22 February 2010 no Visa Letters will be accepted by the UKBA. All applicants for entry clearance or for leave to remain as a Tier 4 (Migrant) will have to obtain a CAS.
This marks a further step towards the full implementation of the Sponsorship Management System (the "SMS"). The system enables licensed Sponsors to record their issue of CASs on the SMS, and for the UKBA to check each application for entry clearance or for leave to remain against the database.
The UKBA has issued a letter to all licensed education providers informing them of the need to issue CASs and not Visa Letters from 22 February onwards. It is pointed out that any potential applicant for entry clearance or for leave to remain under Tier 4 who has a Visa Letter must use it before that date.
Gherson's solicitors and paralegals are ideally placed to advise both students already in the UK and who wish to apply for further leave to remain, and those who wish to apply for entry clearance to study here. They are also able to provide a comprehensive advisory service to Sponsors and to those education providers who wish to become Sponsors.