Keeping sponsor licence details up-to-date

It is essential that sponsors advise us if their circumstances change.

I know I sound like a broken recording, but it is incredible to me that some 20% of sponsors needing to renew their licence in the past six months have had major changes that the UKVI have not been informed about.

Some companies have been acquired, others changed their names and yet others have moved their offices or the Authorising Officers have left or gone on maternity leave without appointing a replacement.

Can all sponsors please note that, if the UKVI decide to make a compliance visit, they are not obliged to advise the sponsor of this in advance, so they may well turn up at the wrong address, or find that the AO is not present or the company name has changed, any one of which may be reason for the licence to be suspended or downgraded to a B rating.

Either of these would have huge implications on your organisation, so please, please, ensure we are advised if any of the above changes happen in your organisation (or indeed if you acquire a company) so we can ensure UKVI are kept informed.

Changes to those applying “out-of-time”

Out-of-time applicants can no longer apply up to 28 days after the expiry date on their visa.

Under current rules applicants who, for whatever reason such as an innocent mistake, find themselves applying after their current leave has expired, have had their cases considered as long as their applications were submitted within 28 days of the expiry date.

Now, however, the government believe this sends out a message which is “inconsistent with the need to ensure compliance with immigration rules”, and so this “allowance” has been abolished.

Instead, out-of-time applications will only be considered if the applicant can show a good reason, beyond their control, why an in time application could not be made AND the application is made within 14 days of the expiry of leave.

New fast-track trial for some Change of Circumstances requests

The UKVI have been taking an increasing length of time to allocate unrestricted CoS over the past few months – here’s why!

Since April 2016 getting an unrestricted CoS allocated to sponsors has become increasingly difficult, requiring a comprehensive representation as to why the CoS is required, but at least they were allocated within a few days.

However, as many sponsors will know to their fury and frustration, the UKVI have recently been taking 6-8 weeks, and sometimes longer, to deal with unrestricted CoS requests.

Now, out of the blue, they have announced a Tier 2 and 5 priority change of circumstance service which allows A rated sponsors to get their CoS allocated within five working days. This same service also applies to sponsors wishing to add a Level 1 user or replace an authoring officer.

However the service comes at a cost: £200 for each individual CofC request. And currently it is limited to 20 requests per day – for the whole country.
Our first experience was traumatic to say the least – We started dialling at 09.00 sharp but it took over three hours of non-stop dialling to get through to the premium service number in order to pay the £200. We were number 18!

But then, at least, the CoS was allocated within a couple of hours – so it can be done easily enough Yet another example of the system gathering extra revenue.

New changes to Tier 2 (ICT)

On 24 November 2016 the following changes will come into effect.

• The salary threshold for Tier 2 (ICT) short-term applicants has been increased to £30,000 p.a. Please note that this sub-category will close in April 2017.

• The salary threshold for Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainee goes down to £23,000 p.a.

• The Tier 2 (ICT) Skills transfer sub-category has now closed.

In March 2016 the MAC Report recommended that the Immigration Health Surcharge should be rolled out to Tier 2 (ICT) applicants this autumn, but as far as we can see no actual change has been announced as yet, so we are hopeful that this recommendation has been withdrawn.

New changes to Tier 2 (General)

On 24 November 2016 the following changes will come into effect.

• The salary threshold for experienced workers (ie: those aged 26 or more, or anyone applying for a period of more than three years) has been increased to 25,000 p.a. except for a few specialist roles such as nurses, medical radiographers, paramedics and secondary school teachers in certain subjects.

• The salary must also comply with the relevant SOC Code which is usually more than £25k anyway.

• Those extending their Tier 2 (General) visas between now and next April 5th, are excused this requirement, but from that date, the limit increases further to £30,000 p.a. or the SOC amount, whichever is the higher.

• Applicants sponsored in graduate training programmes can now change occupation – ie SOC Code – within the programme without the need for a resident test and new application.

• Nurses continue to be a shortage occupation but now a resident labour market test must be carried out before a CoS can be issued.

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UK VISAS NO WIN NO FEE PROMISE

We provide a ‘No Win – No Fee’ guarantee for all points-based system visa applications unless expressly stated at the time of appointment. We will guarantee our service for these applications by offering a full refund on our fee should it be unsuccessful.

These guaranteed terms are conditional upon the client being able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Home Office that they have earned the income claimed or that they have the necessary funding in place for maintenance or are fully conversant with their business plan in the case of Tier 1 Entrepreneurs.

It also presumes that neither the applicant nor their dependants have previously come under scrutiny or been under investigation by the Home Office for any immigration matter. In order that we can do our job properly the necessary information and details required should be made available and they must genuine as well as accurate.