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Tips for Head Office Sponsors // Important Changes

The Home Office updated its worker and temporary worker sponsor guidelines on November 9, 2022. The updated guidelines provide for various changes, some of which are important to the operation of a sponsor license.

Immigration Skills Fee Waiver

The updated guidelines clarify the various exemptions to the Immigration Skills Charge. The fee, which is £364 (small businesses) or £1,000 (medium or large businesses), represents a significant portion of the overall expense of sponsoring a migrant worker. This load to have to paid by the sponsoring company and cannot be passed on to the sponsored worker.

In some cases, corporate sponsors may be exempt from this charge. This includes:

  • if the worker requests an entry permit and will be sponsored for less than 6 months;
  • if they are sponsored into one of the specified occupation codes listed in the Immigration Rules;
  • for workers who have already been issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (“CoS”) by the same sponsor, and the new CoS will not exceed their current authorization period;
  • for workers leaving student routes, including when another CoS is assigned, provided they remain in the same role;
  • for workers who have been granted a CoS before 6 April 2017, and:- have obtained an entry or residence permit; – undertook and continued the same role.

Perhaps the big change coming for sponsors is the new Immigration Skills Tax Exemption for Global Job Mobility – Senior or Skilled Workers (formerly known as Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer) who are EU nationals and are transferred to the UK by an EU company on or after 1 January 2023. This is currently subject to parliamentary approval.

Changes to a worker’s start date

A worker’s start date can be affected by a variety of factors, including Home Office delays in processing applications. Prior to the recent change, in cases where the worker’s start date was delayed, the sponsor was required to notify the Home Office and confirm a revised start date within 10 working days. The revised start date could not be postponed for more than 28 days, failing which the sponsor could no longer continue to sponsor the Worker.

The revised guidelines now state that sponsors do not need to submit a report provided the late start date is extended by a period of less than 28 days. In addition, the advice allows the worker to start working in their sponsored job as soon as they are cleared to enter the UK, even if it is before the start date recorded on their CoS. Home Office does not expect sponsor to report earlier start date.

Sponsor’s remarks

The guidelines also now clarify when minor errors can be corrected with a note from the sponsor. These include:

  • change the start and end date;
  • change salary details and working hours (provided this does not cause the role to fall below the minimum wage threshold);
  • correct “minor errors” such as incorrect name or date of birth (more than one minor error in the personal data section may require a new CoS to be issued);
  • add clarifications such as: – an explanation if the person is applying for a health and care visa; – explaining that the resident labor market test is met if the CoS is for a religious worker.

Payment of salary

The updated guidelines specify that all payments to have to get paid at work own UK or overseas bank account. This can be checked during a Home Office compliance visit.

Leave without pay

The guidelines now provide other options for sponsors to continue working when a migrant worker has had unpaid leave of four weeks or more in a calendar year (either a single period or a cumulative total).

This means that if the standard exemptions do not apply and the sponsor intends to continue the sponsorship because there are “compelling” or “exceptional” reasons for the absence, he to have to report it to the Ministry of the Interior. If the Home Office determines that the reasons are not valid, the sponsor must terminate the sponsorship.

Salary cuts

A reduction in salary resulting in the sponsored worker’s salary falling below the minimum threshold will generally force the sponsor to stop sponsoring, with some exceptions.

The revised guidelines now provide another exception for a gradual return to work after an occupational health assessment.

Other Changes

The Home Office has also made several changes to the Sponsor a Skilled Worker guidelines. The most significant changes are below.

Salary calculation

In determining the minimum salary for a role, the Home Office will now only take into account the guaranteed basic gross salary (before income tax and including employees’ pension and national insurance contributions, and other guaranteed payments which are treated in exactly the same way as basic gross salary for tax, pension and national insurance purposes). They will ignore other allowances, compensation or benefits (even if they are guaranteed)

Sponsorship certificate set

Business hours

The Home Office now expects sponsors to include the number of hours worked in their application for a Certificate of Defined Sponsorship (“DCoS”). This should be included in the job description summary text box.

Delay of treatment

DCoS requests are normally granted within 24-48 hours of the request. However, in cases where additional information is requested, we have seen significant delays, some taking several months, before a DCoS decision is made.

The revised guidelines now state that the Home Office aims to review DCoS requests within 20 working days.

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