Sponsor compliance

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As a sponsor there is an obligation to keep specific records and report certain events to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). In effect the sponsor will be acting on behalf of the UKVI to police employment based immigration and ensure minimum abuse of the system.

Visits from the UKVI should be both expected and welcomed by sponsors. These are both announced and unannounced and help to ensure sponsor obligations are being met.

Here’s some examples of the records and reporting responsibilities of a sponsor;

Record keeping:

  • Copy of the passport identity page and the UK visa/residency permit showing the ability to work for the sponsor,
  • Current and historical contact details, as well as the dates of any changes,
  • Copies of pay slips. This is to show the worker is being paid at least the rate shown on their Certificate of Sponsorship),
  • Contracts of employment giving details of the job to be performed in the UK,
  • Any ‘market test’ documents such as copies of advertising and responses to the advertising campaigns (where the vacancy had to be advertised as part of the sponsorship process),
  • Copies of degree certificates and professional accreditations (where necessary),
  • Attendance/absences from work.

Reporting:

Sponsors must also report certain information about sponsored employees through the UKVI’s online Sponsorship Management System (SMS), usually within 10 working days of the event, for example:

  • Failure to attend the first day of work (for example visa delay, a change to the project start date or a flight change),
  • Unexplained absences of ten working days or more, or unpaid leave of one month or more,
  • If employment ends either through termination or resignation or an employee otherwise stops being sponsored,
  • If there are significant changes in an employee’s circumstances, such as a change of job or salary (this does not include normal annual salary increases). It’s important to note that some changes in job may actually require a fresh sponsorship,
  • If the employer suspects a migrant is breaching the conditions of their leave,
  • There are significant changes in the sponsor’s circumstances (for example, is has changed address or was involved in a merger).

It is incredibly important that records and reports are kept extremely specific, as even a slight discrepancy can lead to a Sponsor having their licence suspended or revoked.

Once an suspension or revocation has been initiated by the UKVI, it can lead to them issuing an ‘action plan’. This carries a charge and effectively stops the Sponsor from employing any new migrants until the action plan has been satisfied. Revocations result in current employees having their leave curtailed and unless they can find a new sponsor or change immigration status they will be required to leave the UK.

Record keeping and reporting systems, employee files and procedures need to be on point at all times. We can help analyse your current systems and help improve them to negate any potential suspensions or revocation from the UKVI. Get in touch today to see how we can help your business.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) points based system (PBS) applications

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Being an entrepreneur usually involves taking some sort of risk, and that’s exactly what you might be doing in applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

Why? Well the refusal rate for this category of visa application is second only to that of the asylum category; around 50%.

The basics of the Entrepreneur route:

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if you want to set up or run a business within the UK. Applications can be made either from abroad, or from within the UK if the applicants have previously had leave to remain as entrepreneurs, or in certain other limited categories. Eligibility requirements differ in each case.

Here’s a great overview of the route and detailed guidance, both of which are on the Home Office website.

The main requirements for the entrepreneur route are:

  1. Sufficient funding for investment in a business,
  2. A clear plan on how the business is to be set up and run, and
  3. Job creation.

Each applicant is required to submit a detailed business plan which will be scrutinised by Home Office staff for it’s suitability and viability.

If access is granted under this route, the initial visa is valid for 3 years and 4 months. This is extendable for a further two years, after which applications for settlement can be made. Should a business be particularly successful or create a certain number of full-time jobs, an opportunity for ‘accelerated settlement’ may become available. For cases of this type the period after which settlement can be granted reduces to 3 years.

The amount required to be invested varies depending on the source of the funds. Access to £50,000 in investment funds from a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed the the Department for International Trade (DIT), or a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business, or funds from an appropriately regulated venture capital firm all open up the ability to apply.

Without access to this specified funding, applicants will need £200,000 to invest in their business. Applicants who are switching for another visa route have slightly different funding rules. It’s also possible to form whats known as an ‘entrepreneurial team’, which is essentially the teaming up with one other Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicant and pooling the same investment funds.

Once the entrepreneur has this in place and the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is granted, the applicant is required to create the equivalent of 2 full-time, 30 hours per week paid jobs for at least 2 people who are settled in the UK. Each of these jobs must exist for a minimum of 12 months during the visa period. If the entrepreneur does not satisfy this requirement during their initial visa period then they will be unable to extend their stay in the same category.

Understanding the complexities of immigration law and legislation can be extremely baffling and difficult to do. That’s why we’re here to help you. Get in touch today to discuss your options.