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You can start work before the start date on a COS

Nov 11, 2022

Guidance released by the Home Office (UKVI) states that an employee can start working in their sponsored employment as soon as they have permission to enter or stay in the UK.

As a business, you do not have tell the Home Office (UKVI) if the worker’s start date has been brought forward after they have been granted permission to enter or stay.

Further updates which may make management of your employees’ reporting easier are detailed below -

Changing start date of employment:

Once a worker has been granted permission, they should normally start working in their sponsored employment no later than 28 days after whichever is the latest of:

  • the start date on their CoS (considering any changes to that date reported by you before their application for entry clearance or permission was decided)
  • the “valid from” date on the worker’s entry clearance vignette (visa)
  • the date the worker is notified of a grant of entry clearance or permission to stay

If the worker does not start employment by the end of this period, you must tell the Home Office (UKVI) the worker’s fresh start date and the reasons for the delayed start if you wish to continue sponsoring them; or stop sponsoring the worker.

In either case, you must report this by the end of ten working days after the 28-day period using the ‘Report migrant activity’ function in the SMS.

If you wish to continue sponsoring the worker, you should be aware that UKVI may cancel the worker’s permission if they do not consider there is a valid reason for the delayed start. You must therefore ensure you conduct a right to work check before they start their employment, and any follow-up checks as required. If the worker tells you their permission has been cancelled, you must stop sponsoring them and report this within ten working days via your SMS account.

Acceptable reasons for a delayed start may include:

  • travel disruption due to a natural disaster, military conflict, or pandemic
  • the worker is required to work out a contractual notice period for their previous employer – if the worker is in the UK, their conditions of stay must allow them to do this
  • the worker requires an exit visa from their home country and there have been administrative delays in processing this
  • illness, bereavement or other compelling family or personal circumstances

This is not a comprehensive list, and each case will be judged on its merits

You do not have to report a change to start date (where the worker has been granted permission) if it is delayed by no more than 28 days.

As an employer you must take care to enter the correct start and end dates on the Certificate of Sponsorship.

You as the employer must make sure the timing of your recruitment and the date you assign the CoS does not put the worker in a situation where they cannot make a successful application for entry clearance or permission.

The Home Office (UKVI) is not necessarily seeking to refuse applications, however administrative errors can occasionally lead to this outcome.

If in doubt, then ask us to act as your representative or for further information about the whole process please complete the enquiry form on our website or e-mail us directly at [email protected]

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