UNITED KINGDOM: Updates to UK Sponsor Guidance

November 16, 2022

The Home Office updated their sponsor guidance on 9 November with several points that sponsors should note.

Changes to work start dates

  • Clarification on starting work early: 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 tell the Home Office if the worker’s start date has been brought forward after they have been granted permission.

Updates to delays to work start dates

  1. The Home Office have amended the guidance for when the permitted 28 days in which a sponsor can delay a start date can begin. The guidance now refers to the 28 days starting from when the applicant is NOTIFED of the decision (rather than the date of grant of the visa itself) – if this date is the latest date.
  2. The Home Office have increased the reasons for delaying past the permitted 28 days in which a sponsor can delay a start date. Acceptable reasons for a delayed start may include:
    • travel disruption due to a natural disaster, military conflict, or pandemic;
    • the worker is required to finish 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 it;
    • illness, bereavement, or other compelling family or personal circumstances (see below):

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

In relation to delaying past the permitted 28 days, there will be no prior approval obtained; for this. Instead, the sponsor “should be aware that UKVI may cancel the workers permission if they do not consider that there is a valid reason for a delayed start”. The sponsor should do a right-to-work check prior to the commencement of employment, and any follow up checks, and if the worker subsequently informs them that their permission has been cancelled, the sponsor needs to stop sponsoring them and report this via the SMS account within 10 working days.

  • Sponsors 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

Leave without pay

The Home Office have added additional guidance in relation to leave without pay for more than the permitted four weeks:

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 four 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. You should be aware that UKVI may cancel the worker’s permission if they are not satisfied there is a valid reason for continuing to sponsor the worker. If this happens, you must stop sponsoring the worker. Again, this must be reported using the Report migrant activity function, and if the Home Office considers that there is not a valid reason it may cancel the worker’s permission (and the sponsor must stop sponsoring them).

Reduction in rate for health reasons

In relation to the recent immigration rule, changes to include health reasons within the permitted reasons for a reduction in pay, the guidance elaborates on this as follows:

[The reduction in pay is permitted if] the reduction coincides with a temporary reduction in the worker’s hours, or a phased return to work, for individual health reasons, provided:

  • this is supported by an occupational health assessment; and
  • the reduction does not result in the hourly rate falling below any hourly rate requirement
    which applied when the person obtained their most recent grant of permission.

Skills Charge

There is also a concession to not have to pay the Skills Charge in the following circumstances (note: this is currently subject to Parliamentary approval, and we will await clarification of how this is to be applied in practice):

  • you assign the CoS on or after 1 January 2023;
  • the worker is a national of an EU country or is a Latvian non-citizen – note that this concession does not apply if the worker is a national of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland;
  • the worker has been assigned to the UK by a business established in the EU, and which forms part of the same “sponsor group”;
  • the end date of the assignment, as specified on the CoS, is no more than 36 months after the start date.

Organizations and individuals impacted by this development are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice. For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.

This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Case for any case- or company-specific assessments.