Employer Right-to-Work checks

All sponsors must ensure that all non-EEA staff or potential recruits have current visas.

If an employee has applied for a new visa or an extension to their current one, and their current visa expires whilst their case is under consideration, it is the employers’ responsibility to check with the Home Office that they can continue to employ that person.

This can be done by logging on to https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-work If the result is inconclusive it will lead you to a second link which is the employer checking service where further checks can be made: https://www.gov.uk/employee-immigration-employment-status

This enables UK employers to confirm whether a non-EEA national holding either a biometric residence permit or biometric residence card has a current right to work in the UK and whether they are subject to any restrictions.

From the end of January 2019, employers will be able to request either the online check or the existing document-based check; online checks will be a voluntary option whilst migrants and employers develop familiarity with the new service. The digital status checking services will provide a quick and secure verification of status.

Reminders to Sponsors – Keep your records up to date

Updating your records

All sponsors should ensure their records are kept up to date, but here is a three-point reminder for you.

At least once a year, you should ensure that you ask to see all non-EEA workers passports and visas/BRP cards. Please check these are valid and photocopy them (passport outer cover and details page and both sides of the BRP card (or visa in their passport if they still do not have a BRP card).  Then sign and date the photocopies and place on their personnel file.

Check to see if any sponsored workers’ roles or salaries/working hours have changed or if they are no longer working for you. If so please let us know at info@ukvisas.co.uk so we can update the SMS for you or advise you if the change is so significant that a new visa may be required.  Remember, sponsored workers can only carry out the work stated on their CoS.

Please let us know as soon as possible if:

  1. your office address is changing.
  2. sponsored staff are changing their work address (eg: those working at client sites).
  3. your Authorising Officer is leaving or going on maternity leave.
  4. your business has changed its name.
  5. your business has been acquired.
  6. your business has acquired another business.

High Skilled Workers to trump EU workers

Brexit will no doubt have a great impact on the business immigration sector.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)’s long-awaited report on the effect of European migration to the UK has been published last month.

According to reports, the MAC does not see ‘compelling reasons’ to give EU citizens any preferential treatment over non-EU citizens. Recommendations are made largely to loosen the Tier 2 system itself and have a more open policy like in countries such as Canada.

Below is a summary of the key recommendations for work migration post-Brexit

1. Making it easier for higher-skilled workers to migrate to the UK than lower-skilled workers.

2. No preference for EU citizens

3. Abolish the cap on the number of migrants under Tier 2 (General).

4. Tier 2 (General) to be open to all jobs at RQF3 and above.

5. Maintain existing salary thresholds for all migrants in Tier 2.

6. Retain but review the Immigration Skills Charge.

7. Consider abolition of the Resident Labour Market Test. If not abolished, extend the numbers of migrants who are exempt through lowering the salary required for exemption.

 

However, if all foreign migrants are bought into the same system then employers will need to become extra vigilant as risk of civil penalties faced by employers will increase significantly.

Hiring costs will increase and if medium skilled jobs are also included as more businesses will require to get on the sponsor licence register meaning increased administrative burden on organisations and a significant effect on businesses which have previously not had any engagement with the wonderful immigration system.

Right to work checks necessary for some Tier 2 extensions

Sponsors should be aware that right to work checks may be necessary if a Tier 2 visa extension is applied close to the expiry date.

Tier 2 sponsored staff should usually apply to extend their visas two months before their current visa expires, which in most cases, means they will receive their new visa before, or just after, the previous expiry date.

However, if a last-minute application is submitted by post, and a decision is not made within 28 days of the expiry date, the employer must conduct follow-up right-to-work checks.

Overall 4% increase to Home Office charges

The Home Office have just announced that their charges will rise by, typically, 4% from 6 April 2018.

Visit visas, Tiers 1, 2 and 4 visas, Spouse/partner visas, ILR and British Citizenship all increase by 4%.

There are a very few exceptions to this, such as EEA residence cards and replacement BRP cards which remain unchanged, and the priority service for out-of-country non-settlement (eg Tier 2) goes up 15% to £212 from £184.

So, a three year Tier 2 visa in-country charge increases to £704 by post, £1181 for the 10 day service and £1314 for the same day service. Out-of-country applications will now cost £610 for the standard service and £822 for the fast-track service.

ILR same day service charge increases to £2999 (postal application is £2389).
Suggestions that the Health Surcharge may double have yet to be confirmed (or denied).

COS (Change Of Status)

Another COS lottery time is approaching, and tensions are high!

Last month, for the third month in a row, and for only the fourth time since a quota was introduced in April 2011, the cap was again hit. This means that many highly skilled workers from outside the EU were unable to take up their posts.

With even less COS available this month, it still looks like it is going to be another frustrating month for the employment sector. at least until the number of applications starts to fall away (if they can hold out that long) or there is a change in the government’s approach.

Renewing CoS allocations for next Financial Year (April 2018 and April 2019)

Sponsors that are not on automatic annual renewal will receive monthly e-mails asking sponsors to submit their requests for a CoS allocation.

Please feel free to ignore these!

Annual CoS allocations are now so limited that you can only request these if you can prove you will definitely need them. This means providing the name, nationality and DoB of each applicant and, if they are new recruits, full details of the role, salary and resident test details if relevant.

UK Visas will go through every client’s list of sponsored workers over the next few weeks and request CoS for any whose visas expire between April 2018 and April 2019.

So, when you get another reminder at the beginning of February, and again in March, please do not forward them to us, simply delete them.

For those clients on Auto Renewal (about half of you) we have to wait until 5 April and see what you have been allocated and then, if necessary, request extra CoS for you.

Fast-track trial for new CoS requests is extended

The recently introduced £200 premium request service for CoS is set to continue.

Back in November last year the Home Office introduced 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, replace an authoring officer or appoint a representative

Initially this service, which costs £200 for each individual CofC request made, was limited to 20 requests per day – for the whole country – so became a total lottery involving back-to-back telephone calling (on a premium-rate number!).

As of 3 April 2017 the UKVI have increased the number of slots available to 50 per day.

Increased HO fees announced 24 hours before coming into effect!

The Home Office has just announced, at 11.13 on Tuesday 4th April new increased charges for 2017/18.

Usually the Home Office provide a month or so’s notice of any intended visa fee increases to enable feedback prior to Parliamentary approval. But not this year!

Nearly all increases are small – see the link below for full details – although ILR has seen a swingeing £512 increase to £2887 for the same day service.

Out-of-country Tier 2 visas increase just £12, to £587, while in-country applications go up £13 to £677.

The 10 day priority service goes up from £375 to £459 and the same day service goes up £90 to £590.

For full details of all of the new HO charges, go to:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/visa-regulations-revised-table

Although a relatively small constituent of visa costs these days, we are pleased to advise clients that UK Visas own fees will remain the same as last year, with the one exception of EEA family permit and permanent residence visas for self-employed applicants.

Changes to Tier 2 (ICT)

A raft of changes has been made to the ICT category over the past 12 months.

The idea that the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer category enables international companies to transfer staff into the UK easily and inexpensively – on the basis that their stay here will be temporary – has changed somewhat and is certainly now a lot more expensive:

The Tier 2 (ICT) Short-term category has now closed so there are now only two sub-categories remaining: ICT Long-Term and ICT Graduate Trainee

The rules for Graduate Trainees remains the same, but the requirements for ICT long-term have changed significantly, so that:

• The 12 months working requirement is lifted for those paid £73,900 p.a. or above.
• 9 years maximum stay now available to those earning £120,000 p.a. or above (was £155,300 p.a.)
• Accommodation cannot be more than 30% of the gross salary and other allowances combined (as previously).
• The new Immigration Skills Charge WILL apply to ICT long-term main applicants whose CoS are issued from 6 April 2017.
• The Health Surcharge will also apply to ICT main applicants and dependants applying from 6 April 2017.

New “Immigration Skills Charge” for employers

No such luck with the proposed Immigration Skills Charge we suspect, as the government continues to press ahead with plans to introduce a new skills charge, with effect from 6 April 2017.

The Immigration Skills Charge will be levied on employers that employ migrants in skilled areas. Set at £1,000 per year for each Tier 2 CoS issued by large organisations, and a reduced rate of £364 for small or charitable organisations, it is designed to cut down on the number of businesses taking on migrant workers and incentivise training British staff to fill those jobs.

An exemption to the charge means that it won’t apply to PhD-level jobs and international students switching from student visas to working visas – a key protection they would say to help retain the talented workers and students who are vital in helping the British economy grow. Neither does it apply to ICT Graduate Trainees.

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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.