When a Care Home changes hands
the existing Work Permits may become invalid
The day you complete the purchase of a care home is obviously a cause for celebration. But before you pop the champagne, you may want to check how many of the existing ‘Senior Care’ and nursing staff are on Work Permits, because you could find that their Work Permits are no longer valid you are employing them illegally.
When you buy a care home which employs Work Permit holding overseas staff, their Work Permits may be cancelled by the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), leaving you high and dry. In some cases overseas staff may have to return home unless a new permit can be arranged.
Many new employers do not realise that Work Permits are not transferable and, depending on how you buy the business, may necessitate a completely new application.
Where a home is bought by purchasing the existing company an amendment to the existing Work Permit or technical change may be sufficient to satisfy the BIA.
However, using the more popular route of buying the ‘assets’ of the business, rather than the company, the BIA could insist on a new permit, because the employer has changed.
Work Permits are issued to a specific employer and when that employer changes, the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) must be informed.
The Work Permit Guidance notes state:
“146 When a person’s employer is taken over by another employer, the new employer should write to us providing full details, a copy of the person’s leave to remain stamp, which can be found in the person’s passport and quoting the worker’s reference number.
“147 If there is restructuring within the company as a result of the takeover you should send us details of the restructure, for example evidence of any redundancies. We will assess whether a new work permit application is required.”
I called the BIA’s general enquiry helpline (0114 207 4074) today to clarify the above rule and was told that:
“New employers must provide the new information to the appropriate Business Teams who will advise them whether or not they need a new work permit or an amendment (i.e. a Technical Change).”
If it is decided that a new Work Permit is required the existing permit will be “technically invalid”, which is obviously a disastrous situation for innocent overseas workers caught up in a sale.
He further added:
“New Work Permit criteria would need to be met on new applications”.
BIA gives just 28 days notice to get out of the UK
Until recently this would not have been a cause for concern, but the BIA has tightened up Work Permit criteria considerably in recent months.
Worse still, the unfortunate worker’s visa will be cancelled and a notice issued ordering them to get out of the country within 28 days. That’s 28 days to sell their property, furniture and reorganise their life.
We are dealing with a number of cases where the BIA have refused to allow a technical change and insist on a new application knowing full well that it will be declined.
This is obviously an extremely serious issue for both new owners, who could lose key staff, and the many hundreds of Senior Carers working in Care Homes which have changed hands in the last few years.
The problem may not come to light until the worker applies for indefinite leave, which will be refused, or their employer is subjected to a BIA compliance check.
Immigration Matters calls on the BIA could take a more pragmatic view and simply allow Work Permits to be reissued to new owners, without the need to meet the new guidelines, regardless of how they bought the business.
When a business is sold very little changes in terms of pay, conditions and rights, so why should innocent migrant workers be victimised?
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