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UK Sponsorship Licensing Guidelines Changes: Start Dates and Other Important Updates

The Home Office has updated Sponsors’ Guide to Workers and Temporary Workers November 9, 2022. The guide contains important information on compliance obligations and processes for UK sponsor licensees. The changes include new concessions for sponsors and sponsored employees related to delays in start dates and unpaid leave.

Start date changes

Previously, where the sponsored employee was for any reason (including delays in the UK visa application process) unable to meet the original start date of employment, this had to be reported to the UKVI. UK sponsor license holders could only delay the start date by a maximum of 28 days from one of the following dates, whichever is later:

  • Original start date on Certificate of Sponsorship or other SMS changes prior to UK visa approval, or
  • Date on which the employee’s UK visa was approved and/or becomes valid.

The updated guidance now confirms that as long as the employee started work within 28 days, no SMS reporting is required. This is a significant relaxation of reporting responsibilities for promoters.

Additionally, the guidance allows for a new method (in addition to the two existing provisions above) on how to calculate the start of the 28-day period. This is:

  • Date on which the worker is informed of the granting of an entry permit or a residence permit.

Given the significant delays in UK visa processing and delays at Visa Application Centers around the world returning passports to applicants, this is a welcome change.

More importantly, where previously it was not possible to delay the start date by more than 28 days, it is now possible to do so under certain circumstances. Acceptable reasons for a delayed start may include:

  • trip interruption due to natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic
  • the worker is required to establish a contractual notice period for his former employer
  • the worker needs an exit visa from their home country and there have been administrative delays in processing this visa
  • illness, bereavement or other compelling family or personal circumstances

The UKVI states that this is not an exhaustive list and that each case will be judged on its merits. The report must be made on SMS to report a delay of more than 28 days with the reasons for the delay. The UKVI reserves the right to cancel the worker’s visa if it considers the reason for the delay to be invalid. Therefore, employers should always ensure that they perform a new right to work check after the report is submitted and before their new start date of employment to ensure that the employee continues to have the visa. corresponding.

Amendments to provisions relating to leave without pay

Previously, sponsored workers could not take more than 4 weeks of unpaid leave in a calendar year, unless waived such as maternity, paternity, sick leave, etc. If they wished to take a period of unpaid leave of more than 4 weeks, the sponsor was obliged to stop sponsoring the employee and a new visa would be required.

The new version of the guidelines now allows sponsored employees to have periods of unpaid leave of more than 4 weeks, when there are “compelling or exceptional circumstances” for this. This should be reported to the UKVI via the SMS portal where the UKVI can review whether the reasons for this period of unpaid leave are satisfactory.

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