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Immigration Alert: Helpful New Tips on Sponsor Duties

The Home Office has helpfully reduced some of the reporting requirements for sponsors.

The main updates contained in the new Tips for the home office are set out here.

Delayed work start dates

Many sponsors are familiar with the tricky reporting requirements where the start date of work in the UK for a skilled worker application is delayed. Helpful changes to the guidelines include:

  • Report only if the delay is more than 28 days. Rather than always having to report any delayed work start date, sponsors now only have to do so if the delay is more than 28 days. The delay must be reported no later than 10 business days after the end of the 28-day period.
  • More flexibility for delays longer than 28 days. Prior to this new directive, if the start date of the work was delayed by more than 28 days, the sponsor had to cancel the sponsorship. The only exception was if the worker was working on a contractual notice period with their former employer. However, the new guidelines include other “acceptable reasons” for a delay of more than 28 days. The new list is as follows:

o Trip interruption due to natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic

o The worker is required to establish a contractual notice period for his former employer

o The worker needs an exit visa from their home country and there have been administrative delays

o Illness, bereavement or other compelling family or personal circumstances

This is not an exhaustive list and each case will be judged on its own merits, but sponsors should be aware that the sponsored worker’s work authorization could be canceled later if the reason indicated in the report on the date of delayed start is not considered acceptable by the Home Office.

  • When the 28 day period begins. Previous guidelines stated that once a sponsored worker’s visa application was approved, they had to start working in the UK within 28 days of: the start date shown on their sponsorship certificate; the start date of the validity of the visa; and the date the application was approved. The new guidelines change the last option from the date of approval to the date the worker is notified of the decision.

Other Changes

The new Home Office guidelines also include other useful changes for sponsors:

  • Sponsored worker on leave without pay for more than 4 weeks. If a sponsored worker is absent from work and unpaid for more than 4 weeks in a calendar year, the sponsorship must end. In previous guidance, there was a defined list of exceptions such as parental leave or sick leave. Now, the new guidelines go further, as “compelling or compassionate circumstances” will also be taken into account. Again, once the reason is stated in the report, the sponsored worker’s work permit may be revoked if the Home Office is not satisfied with the reason.
  • Concession of immigration skill fees for certain senior or skilled worker applications. Subject to legislative approval (this change is not yet in force), from 1 January 2023 the Immigration Skills Charge (normally £1,000 per visa year) for certain older workers or specialists ( formerly called intra-company transfers) will not need to be paid. These are international transfers within the same corporate group for up to 3 years, when the sponsored worker is a non-EU or Latvian citizen (not a citizen of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland) and transferred from a company established in the EU.

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