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There was no basis for the Defendant to exercise its discretion outside of the mandatory requirements in order to grant the Claimant Highly Trusted Sponsor Status.
14 February 2014
(1) By this claim, the Claimant, a private education college in Manchester, sought to challenge the Defendant's decision dated 7 December 2012 to refuse its application for ‘Highly Trusted Sponsor' status. The Claimant also challenged the decision dated 14 January 2013 to revoke the Claimant's sponsor licence. The Claimant had been put on notice that the revocation of the licence was a result of the Claimant's inability to meet the requirement that its refusal rate (in relation to refusals of visa/entry clearance applications) be less than 20 per cent.
(2) The Claimant submitted that the refusals which comprised the 20 per cent had been based on an erroneous finding as to the testing of English skills, and ought not to be used in the calculation to assess eligibility for Highly Trusted Sponsor status. Key to the Claimant's challenge was the Defendant's failure to apply her discretion in relation to the mandatory refusal rate, particularly concerning 64 particular refusals. The unlawfulness of those refusals was argued to fall within the Defendant's discretion to deal with exceptions, as set out in the policy guidance.
(3) HELD: It was not an express requirement, under either the Immigration Rules or the guidance, that in order to grant entry clearance a student must be able to state how the college had assessed his English language skills. The ‘refusal rate' was a mandatory requirement, which must be less than 20 per cent.
(4) There is no duty on the Defendant to examine the circumstances of each and every applicant who was refused entry clearance or leave to remain, nor attempt to establish whether the sponsor was at fault for failing to foresee such issues. The Court did not accept that the refusal of the grant of Highly Trusted Sponsor status was not within the rules. There were not sufficient discrepancies to render the refusal unlawful.
(5) The Court also found that the Defendant had not unlawfully fettered her discretion in refusing to depart from the mandatory requirement.
(6) There had not been assurance that any challenged error would be examined by the Defendant, and if proven to be an error discounted. The Claimant failed to show that in this case there was any basis for a departure from the mandatory requirement.
(7) The claim was therefore dismissed.
 - No duty examine circumstances.
 - Not reassess refusal.
 - Insufficient discrepancies.
 - No fettering.
 - No basis depart.
 - Dismissed.
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