HR Seminar: Challenges and Opportunities for Business Travellers & Short-term Assignees

UK business travellers

With an ever-increasing tightening of the UK immigration rules, including cooling off periods and mandatory bans for overstaying or breaching the immigration rules, it is vitally important that employers understand the current immigration rules and policy to ensure that their workforce is compliant, whilst being able to mobilise employees as required.

We were therefore delighted to co-host a seminar earlier this month with IPM at a prestigious venue in the financial centre of London, with a view overlooking the Millennium Dome from the 33rd floor. We thought it was the ideal location for our seminar, followed by networking where we had the opportunity to get to know some of our attendees over drinks and canapés.

The seminar aimed to focus on a topic that was highly current and relevant. We looked at the risks for business visitors travelling into the UK and the challenges faced by employers in managing that risk, as well as the use of short-term assignments.

 The event hoped to provide up-to-date information to our audience, and many said it was also a great opportunity to gain reassurance of their existing immigration knowledge, especially in recent months where immigration policies are evolving all the time.

We were extremely pleased to host a speaker from the UK Border Agency’s Sponsor Management Unit who’s responsible for checking whether sponsors have fulfilled their necessary compliance requirements. If you are already a licence holder you may be aware that if a UK employer is found to be employing illegal workers, they can face a civil penalty of up to £10,000 per illegal worker. At our seminar the compliance officer advised delegates that the most important process is to ensure all records are up-to-date and accurate. She warned that even some large companies who may think they have it under control may fall at this hurdle, just because they have not updated the most accurate information with regards to details such as address change. The presentation emphasised on ways employers could avoid associated risks when travelling on short-term assignments and that the finer details are just as important.

In addition Scott Niven from IPM Global Mobility focused on the main tax and social security issues pertaining to staff working periodically or for a short period in the UK, he also highlighted the recent legislation in this area arising from the Stautory Residence Test, which will be effective from the 2013/14 UK tax year.

Alison Hutton, our Senior Immigration Consultant led the audience’s attention to the recent decline in the number of work related visas granted in the UK. She explained that this is likely to be partly due to policy changes that came into effect from 2011. It was also warned that non-visa nationals can be caught out when travelling on short-term assignments.  Newland Chase presented a case study of a Chinese national who was sent from a US company to cover sick leave for his colleague in the UK. He travelled on a ‘standard’ business visitor visa. He was denied entry into the UK and was given a 10 year ban into the country for having tried to enter the UK by “deception” on his subsequent visa application. This was because the applicant should have applied for a ‘work visa’ and not a ‘standard business visitor visa’. Although this was successfully overturned, it demonstrates how easy it is to be caught out by immigration regulations at times, and the serious penalties visitors may be subjected to.

We hope you have found this to be an interesting and relevant read. However if you are interested in a more detailed cover of our seminar, please feel  free to email us to receive a copy of the PDF hand-out including all the content that was covered during the event. We will be hosting a number of other events in the future, as well as events similar to this one, so please let us know if you are interested in coming along!  

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