28 September 2009
Phase 3 is the voluntary trial period of the sponsorship management system for Tier 4 sponsors. Tier 4 sponsors are educational institutions such as schools, colleges and universities who wish to sponsor students for study in the UK. During the trial period educational institutions can continue to issue visa letters. The Government hopes that educational institutions will increasingly use the sponsorship management system to issue confirmations of acceptance for studies for those applying from within the UK. Until February 2010 students applying for entry from outside the UK will still need visa letters instead of confirmations of acceptance for studies. From February 2010 confirmations of acceptance for studies will become compulsory for all student Tier 4 visa applications.