Schools visa service

Passport and visa

The issues

The overseas student market is buoyant and, for many independent schools, a key source of revenue. More importantly, welcoming overseas students supports their ethos of providing education in a diverse setting that better prepares pupils for life in the modern, globalised world.

But, unless the student is a national of one of the countries of the European Economic Area, they will need a Tier 4 (Child) student visa to enter the UK to study between the ages of 4 and 17. 

The process can be daunting but at Cater Leydon Millard we offer a specialist, customisable service, helping independent schools obtain visas on behalf of their students.

How CLM can help

Around 700 Independent Schools Council (ISC) schools are registered with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for Tier 4 visas and independent schools sponsor around 15,000 overseas students each year, as well as employing gap students and overseas staff.

Securing UK visas for overseas students can be a daunting process, particularly in light of the ever-changing UK immigration rules. However, CLM’s Visa Service provides a practical alternative to managing this administrative burden in-house. 

Much of the visa application process is straightforward but undoubtedly burdensome, and if steps are omitted or information not properly vetted, then you risk UKVI rejecting the application, or the School’s ability to sponsor students is placed at risk.

CLM’s Visa Service provides you with a complete, tried and tested process – all for a fixed fee – giving you peace of mind that your overseas student recruitment programme will run smoothly and effectively.

Equally important is the way in which we deal with parents. This can be an anxious time for them, with a great deal riding on the outcome. Our lawyers make the process as smooth as possible, answering parents’ queries and allaying fears. This, in turn, reflects well on your school, as the sponsoring establishment.

How we work

Once the school provides details on those to whom it has made offers, we work as follows:

Dealing with parents

  • Provide parents with information about the application process, highlighting key steps they need to comply with, including documents required, funding for fees and the requirement for a BRP and collection arrangements. 

  • Respond to all parental follow-up questions and requests for support.

  • Liaise with the Bursar’s/Fees office to confirm payment of fees in advance. 

  • Create and assign a CAS with UKVI, once all the required information is received.

  • Provide parents with a copy CAS, plus an appropriate letter that can be produced at a local Visa appointment to confirm the offer of a place, and advise on the next steps.

  • Support parents with the UKVI online application process, as required, including drafting an appropriate letter to confirm their consent to the arrangements for the reception, care and education of their child.

  • Continue to liaise with parents to obtain a copy of the UKVI decision letter.

  • Support parents to elicit other key information that the School is obliged to obtain, such as the appointment of an Educational Guardian and confirmation of travel and UK reception arrangements.

  • Liaise with parents to advise on Police Registration, if required.

Dealing with UKVI 

  • Deal with applications to renew or change the school’s annual CAS allocation. 

  • Handle required notifications to UKVI, in the event of a student leaving a course.


  • Create a database and record the status of each of the required steps for each student.

  • Establish an online record, accessible by the school, of the status of each step.

  • Create an individual file, accessible online by the school, containing all correspondence and documents.


  • Create all correspondence with the approval of the school, to reflect and best represent the school’s own approach and style of communication. We take seriously the need to learn the approach of each school at the outset.

  • Regard as paramount, the need to uphold the values of the school, to deal helpfully and considerately with parents, and for all communications to be timely and accurate.

  • Manage and progress the visa process for each student, even while the school is not in session, including over the long summer vacation, when admission staff may be absent. 


CLM charges a fixed fee of only £500 per student, plus an overall nominal monthly administrative retainer fee, which is payable in September, when students have started. Many schools choose to pass the fixed fee element on to parents.

Why us?

Cater Leydon Millard has extensive experience of advising independent schools, having provided legal support to senior management teams and governors of many leading schools for over 20 years, We also have expertise in safeguarding issues and personal experience as governors, resulting in an in-depth knowledge of the independent schools sector.  Whilst many of our schools clients wish to remain confidential, referees’ details can be provided on request. 

Next steps

For expert advice and assistance with the processing of Tier 4 Student visa applications or appeals, call our specialist schools visa lawyers on 01235 821115 or email