This week the government announced a cap of 21,700 on the number of skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area allowed into the UK. The cap represents a cut of 6,300 on the figure for 2009.
However, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has already reset employers’ Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) allocation to zero following the interim cap this summer.
The UKBA says employers can simply reapply for the certificates, which replaced the old Work Permits following the introduction of the points based system, again as and when they are required. But, as employers have found to their cost, it is becoming virtually impossible to obtain one as the government’s grip on non-EU workers tightens.
Applications for a previously allocated CoS now goes before a new ‘panel’ which sits monthly to decide on who shall get their CoS back and those who will be refused.
Many of our clients are locked in a titanic battle with the UKBA, who are refusing to re-issue certificates for desperately needed Senior Carers, leaving both employer and worker ‘high and dry’.
One of the reasons now being given – for refusing to issue the CoS the employer already had – is that the salary is below £20000. The fact is, Senior Carers are on the government’s official shortage occupations list.
The points based system, we were told, was supposed to be fair and transparent, but now employers have spent thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours becoming registered sponsors, as well as their workers do not know whether they are coming or going. The English Community Care Association (ECCA) is taking the government to court over its policy on Senior Carer work permits.
Some of those affected are existing work permit holders waiting to extend their visas while others are student visa holders hoping to switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2.
So what should you do if you are affected by the UKBA’s new policy? You need to plan ahead and not allow your visa to expire. If however, your visa has expired, seek urgent immigration advice. As I am writing this article, I am actually in the middle of an application for a client whose visa is to expire in the next 48 hours! Her employer only managed to obtain a CoS this afternoon after fighting for it for weeks.
Candidates unable to obtain a CoS from an employer can go home to their country of origin and wait until their employers are ready for them. Old work permit holders with less than 5 years service are in a tricky position unless they can apply before their visas expire and should seek expert advice from an OISC registered immigration adviser.
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