1. New Guidance for Tier 2, 4 & 5 Visa Applicants

The Home Office has confirmed that Tier 2 and 5 Workers as well as Tier 4 qualifying students, may begin their work before their leave to remain application has been decided. As a result of the current closure of all UK Service Centres, it is not possible for any leave to remain applications to be completed.

A potential employee can now start employment before his/her visa application has been decided if:

  • He/she has been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship or CAS Certificate, provided that the online visa application was submitted before the current visa expired.
  • He/she can show the Sponsor evidence of this and that the job is the same as the one listed on the COS certificate.
  • If the application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused, the Sponsor must then stop sponsoring the employee who must stop working for the employer.

2. Opportunity for Potential Employees to Switch Status in the UK

The Government has confirmed that if an individual’s visa expires (or expired) between 24th January 2020 and 31st May 2020, it is possible for such an individual to switch categories in the UK for example to employment even if the Applicant would normally have had to make this application from outside the UK. A good example would be for somebody who is in the UK as a visitor or a Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) visa who wishes to transfer to a Tier 2 (General) visa.

3. Is it possible to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for Sponsored Workers?

The Home Office has confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme can be used for Sponsored Migrants, provided that they meet the same eligibility requirements as other employees. However it is necessary for the employer to notify the Home Office on the SMS that the employee has been furloughed.

4. Remote Working – Implications for Sponsored Employees

In the current crisis, many Sponsored Workers are working remotely from home. The Home Office have confirmed that employers do not have to report that Sponsored Workers are working from home provided that the reason that they are working from home is directly related to the Coronavirus epidemic.

5. Reducing Sponsored Workers Hours and / or Salaries

The Home Office has confirmed that employers can temporarily reduce the pay of Sponsored Workers to 80% of their salary or £2,500.00 per month, whichever is the lower. However, any reductions must be part of a firm-wide policy to avoid redundancies in which all workers are treated the same. The reductions must be temporary, and the Sponsored Workers pay must return to its previous level when the firm-wide arrangements end.

This means that, in the current crisis, the overall minimum salary for a Tier 2 (General) visa which is £30,000.00 per year and £20,800.00 for new entrants, or the specific minimum under the relevant SOC Code no longer applies whilst the crisis continues.

However, any change in working hours or salary does need to be reported to the Home Office on the SMS.

For more information or advice please contact Partner and Head of Immigration, Graeme Kirk.