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UNITED KINGDOM: Sponsorship Management Guidance Updates from the Home Office
April 21, 2023
The Home Office has updated its sponsor guidance in relation to general information for sponsoring workers. The updates should streamline requests and improve the process on certain immigration routes.
Annual CoS Allocation Renewals
This function permits sponsors to be granted an annual allocation of undefined CoS automatically based on the number of CoS they assigned in the preceding 12 months. However, this function was only available to sponsors on an invitation-only basis and there was no published Home Office guidance on matters such as eligibility for now.
Sponsors will receive an automatic annual allocation if they:
- are an A-rated sponsor
- are fully active
- are licenced on an eligible route, or routes and
- their CoS year expires on or after 24 June 2023 (sponsors whose CoS year expires sooner, the usual renewal request needs to be submitted as per the normal process)
The routes eligible for automatic allocation renewal are:
- Skilled Worker (undefined only)
- Global Business Mobility – Senior or Specialist Worker
- Global Business Mobility – Graduate Trainee
- Global Business Mobility – Service Supplier
- Global Business Mobility – Secondment Worker
- Minister of Religion
- International Sportsperson
- Charity Worker
- Creative Worker
- Government Authorised Exchange
- International Agreement
- Religious Worker
- Scale Up
Sponsors with ‘automatic renewal’ displayed on the SMS will continue to receive an automatic allocation if the above eligibility criteria are met.
Minimum salary requirements
As set out in Statement of Changes HC 1160, from 13 April 2023, applications may be refused where a caseworker has reasonable grounds to believe that the role does not comply with Working Time Regulations or the National Minimum Wage Regulations.
Other changes include:
- The guidance also clarified that sponsors must normally report on SMS where a sponsored worker is absent without pay or absence on reduced pay for more than four weeks in total in any calendar year. If the worker is a Scale-up Worker, the period you have sponsorship responsibility for that worker
- Sponsors do not have to report shorter absences without pay or on reduced pay. However, sponsors may find doing so will help them monitor whether a sponsored worker has exceeded, or is likely to exceed, the permitted periods of absence
- Sponsors should also report on the SMS for periods of absence for a permissible reason (e.g. statutory maternity leave, sick leave or jury service)
- Unauthorised absences from work (for more than ten consecutive working days) should also be reported irrespective of whether the sponsor makes any salary reductions during this period
Immigration Skills Charge
The guidance also provided clarification that the power to revoke a licence also applies where a sponsor attempts to recoup the Immigration Skills Charge from a sponsored worker. Employers are exempt from paying the ISC if a worker has valid permission for the purpose of study. The guidance has new paragraphs inserted clarifying what is meant by ‘valid permission for the purpose of study’. This exemption applies if the worker sponsors are assigning a CoS to has current permission on one of the following routes:
- Child Student
- Tier 4 (General)
- Tier 4 (Child)
- Short-term Student (English Language)
The exemption applies whether or not the worker is in the UK, provided they have current permission on one of the above routes on the date a CoS is assigned. However, where the person has permission as a Short-term Student, individuals must make their application from outside the UK – they will not normally be allowed to ‘switch’ to either the Skilled Worker route or the Senior or Specialist Worker route from within the UK.
If this exemption applies, sponsors will continue to be exempt if they later assign a new CoS to the same worker to continue working in the same role.
Health and care workers temporary concession
A new paragraph has also been added explaining the temporary supplementary employment concession for Health and Care Workers. For health and Care Worker visa holders, the 20-hour limit does not apply to extra work in a job which would be eligible for the Health and Care Worker visa. This exception now only applies to extra work done before 27 August 2023.
- The time period for reporting a change of organisation size or charitable status amended from 10 working day to 20 working days
- In relation to change of employment applications, the provision for workers undertaking a Graduate Training Programme is not restricted to the Graduate Trainee route
Newland Chase Insights
If you have any compliance queries on the above or which are more nuanced please contact us directly on [email protected]. For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.