Update for Sponsors (part 1): what has changed and what do we need to know?
1. Clarification of Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) exemption
It is important that when assigning an Undefined Certificate of Sponsorship (“CoS”), you select the correct option with regards to the category of application so that the ISC can be paid if required. The categories listed in the dropdown menu are somewhat unclear and can lead to confusion. The main category where the confusion arises is where the individual is switching from a student visa but has not and will not complete their course of studies.
The ISC guidance stated that graduates switching from the student routes are exempt from the ISC; however, an individual who has not completed their course would not be a graduate.
The guidance now clarifies that the exemption extends to individuals switching from the student routes even if they have not graduated, as long as they have current permission for the purposes of study.
2. Defined CoS – additions to required information and timeframes
Sponsor Licence holders who have recruited from overseas will be aware that you must request a Defined CoS each time one is required. When making the DCoS request, you provide some basic information to enable UKVI to determine whether a DCoS can be issued. The required information fields are:
- the job title and Standard Occupational Classification Code;
- summary of job description;
- salary; and
- work start and end date.
2.1 Hours of work
The guidance now explains that you must also state the number of hours of work that the candidate will work each week. If the working hours will vary, you must give details of what the working pattern will be. This change is to enable the Home Office to confirm that the salary meets the salary requirements.
If the number of hours is to be confirmed, you should enter:
- the number of hours you would normally expect employees in a similar role to work each week and enter ‘to be confirmed’ in brackets; and,
- then the confirmed number of hours must be included in the relevant field when assigning the CoS.
2.2 Justification required
When requesting a DCoS prior to identifying a candidate to fill the role, you cannot assume that the candidate that will ultimately fill the role will be eligible for tradeable points under options B-E, unless you can provide a clear justification for this, such as that the job requires the individual to have a PhD. Any such justification must also be provided in the ‘summary of job description’ text box.
2.3 Timeframes for grant
On occasion, UKVI are unable to grant a Defined CoS request within the expected time frame of one working day. This occurs where they need to make further checks and request further information. Often, it could then take the Home Office months to ultimately grant or refuse the DCoS. There were no published timeframes for this situation. Helpfully the guidance now states that they will aim to consider the DCoS request within 20 working days of receipt of the additional information.
3. Changes to Start date of Employment
The guidance now helpfully confirms that sponsored workers are able to start work in their sponsored employment as soon as they have permission to enter or stay in the UK, even if this is before the work start date recorded on their CoS. Additionally, there is no requirement to notify the Home Office if the worker’s start date has been brought forward following the grant of their visa application.
Sponsored workers are expected to start work in their sponsored employment no later than 28 days after the latest of:
- The start date on their CoS (including any changes reported on the SMS prior to the visa application being decided)
- The ‘valid from’ date on their entry clearance vignette
- The date they are granted permission to enter, if they entered the UK without entry clearance under the Creative Worker visa concession
- The date on which they are notified of the grant of entry clearance or permission to stay
Currently, if the worker does not start work by the end of this period, the sponsor must notify UKVI of the new start date and the reason(s) for the delay or cease sponsorship. If UKVI do not consider that there is a valid reason for the delayed start, they may cancel the worker’s permission.
Acceptable reasons for a delayed start include:
- travel disruption caused by a natural disaster;
- military conflict or pandemic;
- working out a contractual notice period for their previous employer;
- administrative delays in processing an exit visa required from their home country;
- illness, bereavement or other compelling family or personal circumstances.
Helpfully, the guidance now confirms that changes to the start date do not need to be reported where the delay is less than 28 days from the latest of the dates listed above.
In the next part, we discuss amendments to the guidance related to reductions in salary, increases to going rates and clarification of the timeframe during which overseas trained nurses must achieve NMC registration.
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