UK Immigration: Home Office Publishes New Tier 2 Sponsorship Guidance

Last month, the Home Office published updated guidance for Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsors; the changes will affect both sponsor licence holders as well those organisations intending to apply for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 sponsor licence. As we reported in January this year, the government published statistics which showed that in 2013, there was a 5% rise in the number of visas granted related to work. The increase was largely accounted for by higher number of visas issued for skilled workers (Tier 2) and for Youth Mobility and Temporary Workers (Tier 5) who had been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) by their sponsor.

Summary of Changes to Tier 2 & 5 Sponsor Guidance

The following is a summary of the Home Office’s changes which came into effect on 6 April 2014:

  • Appendix A: this has now been restructured so it is easier to follow. The Home Office will now do online checks for certain documents instead of asking to see a physical document;
  • Criminal convictions: the Home Office have simplified their policy as to what is regarded as a criminal conviction;
  • Authorising Officer: the Home Office have now stated that the Authorising Officer must be the most senior person responsible for employing migrants.  This is to emphasise the serious commitment the sponsor makes to the Home Office when they are granted a licence;
  • Sponsor Ratings: the Home Office will no longer grant a B rated sponsor with a sponsor licence. Applicants must be able to show their ability to be fully compliant with all the sponsor duties before a licence will be granted; and
  • New exemption from Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT): sponsors do not have to conduct a RLMT if they are a Higher Education Institution and were previously sponsoring a migrant who is returning to resume their post following a period of academic leave.

Obtaining a UK Sponsorship Licence

As a sponsor, employers will need to provide evidence to the Home Office that they are suitable and eligible to become a sponsor. They will need to prove that they are a genuine employer based in and working lawfully in the UK and that they are able to comply with employment and immigration law and good practice, among other requirements. The Home Office will carry out appropriate checks before deciding whether to grant the sponsorship licence. Once a sponsorship licence is approved, the sponsor will appear on the public register of sponsors which can be found on the Home Office’s website.

UK Sponsorship Licence Solicitors & Work Visas for Foreign Workers

Obtaining a UK Sponsorship licence is far from a straightforward process involving referencing not only the immigration rules but also supplementary guidance notes. Together with this issue is ensuring that the bundle of supporting documents meets the Home Office’s stringent requirements and properly evidences the application. For this reason it is usual for a professional employer to instruct expert immigration sponsorship solicitors to manage this process.

There is currently no appeal process against any decision made by the Home Office with respect to Sponsorship Licences, so any problems against any decision made by the Home Office would involve costly and lengthy legal action for Sponsors.

It is therefore imperative that you instruct professional solicitors who specialise in obtaining sponsorship licences and will guide your business step by step through the process involved in not only obtaining a sponsorship licence but also complying with ongoing requirements vis a vis sponsorship duties.

Contact us to discuss your eligibility in obtaining a UK Sponsorship Licence and to find out more about your duties once you are a Sponsor.

If you wish to obtain a visa to work in the UK, our team of experienced and professionally qualified solicitors and barristers will be able to guide you through the process step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of the law. Please always call us for a telephone consultation even if you wish to consider other advisers.

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