The Latest Changes for UK Sponsors 

The Latest Changes for UK Sponsors

Corporate Immigration
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On the 9th of November 2022, the Home Office introduced a couple of changes in its “Workers and Temporary Workers:  guidance for sponsors part 2: sponsor a worker” that affect businesses employing overseas workers, including; an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) waiver for EU-linked workers and a start date delay notification process. Many of these changes are particularly favourable to UK sponsors. 

Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) waiver for EU-linked workers

Currently, sponsors must pay either £364 per year (for small or charitable sponsors) or  £1,000 per year (for medium or large sponsors) when they assign a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to a worker.

However, from the 1st of January 2023, a new exemption from paying the ISC applies to workers who have been assigned to the UK for no more than 36 months by an EU-based company as set out in the Immigration Skills Charge (Amendment) Regulations 2022.

The following are EU-linked workers:

  • Workers who are a national of an EU country (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain or Sweden) or is a Latvian non-citizen – (excluding nationals of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland).
  • Workers who are being assigned to the UK by an EU-based company which forms part of the same “sponsor group” (linked by common ownership or control, or by a joint venture) under the Senior or Specialist Worker route or the Graduate Trainee route.

Consequently, this particular change is likely to be pleasing for sponsors from EU-based companies because they can now benefit from a significant reduction in costs. 

Start date delay notification process

Previously, workers had to commence employment on the date stated on the CoS, the date of their entry clearance vignette, or the date on the visa approval letter (whichever is latest). If the start date was delayed for more than 28 days, the sponsor would have to notify the Home Office. 

However, notifications are no longer required where a start date is delayed for less than 28 days. But notifications will be required where the start date is delayed for more than 28 days. Also, the guidance provides for concessions to allow sponsors to delay the start date beyond the 28-day period where there is a “good reason” for doing so. If the worker does not commence employment within the 28-day period, the sponsor would need to notify the Home Office through the “Report Migrant Activity” function on the SMS portal.

The following are considered good reasons:

  • 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.
  • 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. 

Please note that the above-mentioned list is not exhaustive and each case will be judged on its own merits.

Moreover, the Home Office has now made it possible for workers to start earlier that the date stated on the CoS. According to the guidance, “A worker can start working in their sponsored employment as soon as they have permission to enter or stay in the UK, even if this is before the start date recorded on their CoS. You do not have [to] tell us if the worker’s start date has been brought forward after they have been granted permission.”

Accordingly, this particular change is likely to be agreeable for UK sponsors because it provides them with more flexibility around start dates, reduces administrative burdens, and relaxes their reporting responsibilities. 

Unpaid leave for workers

Previously, a worker could only take a maximum of 4 weeks unpaid leave unless any exceptions applied, including; statutory maternity/paternity/parental or shared parental leave, statutory adoption leave, sick leave, taking part in legally organised industrial action, and assisting with a national/international humanitarian/environmental crisis. If unpaid leave exceeded 4 weeks and no exception applied, the sponsor would have to end the sponsorship.

However, the Home Office has now made it possible for workers to take longer than 4 weeks unpaid leave if there are “compelling or exceptional circumstances.” According to the guidance, “If you believe there are compelling or exceptional circumstances as to why you should not stop sponsoring a worker who has been absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks (and an exception does not apply), you must report the absence and reasons via the ‘Report migrant activity’ function in the SMS for UKVI to consider.” If there are compelling and compassionate circumstances, the sponsor would need to notify the Home Office through the “Report Migrant Activity” function on the SMS portal.

So, this is likely to be beneficial for both UK sponsors and workers despite the fact that there is no guarantee that the Home Office will accept the worker’s compelling or exceptional circumstances. 

How can NA Law Solicitors help?

NA Law Solicitors has extensive experience helping companies to understand their compliance duties and obligations as a sponsor. 

If you have any questions relating to the latest changes for UK sponsors, please contact us or call us on 0203 5245439 for a friendly chat with one of our expert immigration solicitors.

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