An increasing number of migrant workers are being refused visa extensions because of bungled employer applications, often leading to the worker being deported.
Last year, the Government scrapped the old Work Permit Scheme, administered in by Work Permit UK caseworkers in Sheffield, at the same time handing over responsibility for the migrant worker to employers or ‘sponsors’.
One of the responsibilities given to employers was the granting of a ‘Certificates of Sponsorship’ to migrant workers prior to checks been carried out by a caseworker.
Whilst many companies are reporting that the new scheme is working well, immigration advisers are seeing a number of workers refused visas by the UK Border Agency further down the line.
Tier 2 Process for in country applicants
In order to apply for a working visa under Tier 2, which replaced the Work Permit scheme, applicants obtain a ‘sponsorship certificate’ from a licensed sponsor or sponsoring employer.
If you are a Work Permit holder and your employer is not licensed, you will not be able to renew your working visa, although you may be able to apply for indefinite leave or residency.
Thousands of migrant workers, including Nurses and Senior Carers, have been caught out by successive immigration rule changes over the last couple of years and still need to extend their visas (linked to their Work Permits) for another year or two before they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
In some cases the worker is just months sort of the five year (changed from four) qualifying period for permanent residency status in the UK.
Senior Carers and other workers such as Chefs have had to also cope with additional changes such as Government imposed pay rates, which has discouraged some employers from renewing their visas.
Sponsoring overseas workers under Tier 2
Previously employers did not need to register as sponsors in order to apply for and renew a Work Permit, but this has now changed under the new Tier 2 rules introduced last November as part of the points-based system.
Employers must have a licence to sponsor skilled workers, temporary workers under the new system, which the Home Office say is part of the biggest shake up in immigration for 50 years. This does not apply to employing overseas students who have their own permission to work under their student visa.
Employers can register on line as sponsors by going to the ‘Sponsoring workers under the points-based system‘ section of the UK Border Agency website. The process can take several months so plan ahead if you have Work Permits expiring which need renewing.
Once accepted as sponsors employer can issue ‘Certificates of Sponsorship’ to the migrant worker they wish to employ. The sponsorship ‘certificate’ is actually a reference number needed by the applicant when they make their ‘application for a grant of leave’ or ‘leave to remain’.
The in country migrant worker then applies to extend their leave or permission to stay by completing the ‘Tier 2 (General/ICT)’ form, and sending this to the UK Border Agency and paying the £465 fee.
The 57 page Tier 2 (General/ICT) document replaces the much shorter, and easier to complete, FLR form. Dependants must apply on a separate 48 page form – so much for saving the planet.
The process should be straightforward, but many employers are making fatal errors and giving their migrant workers incorrect certificates.
Had the worker sent their Tier 2 (General/ICT) form to with this certificate, their application to extend their leave to remain would have almost certainly been refused and the application fee wasted.
“Employers not up to date with rules” Evelie Padadac, Immigration Adviser
Immigration Adviser and Work Permit specialist, Evelie Padadac, who has handled thousands of visa and further leave applications, said that employers are making mistakes:
“Employers are not always fully up to date with rules or aware of the new requirements and as a consequence we have seen a number of sponsorship certificates issued in error.
“In some cases we only see the client when their application for further leave has been refused and their visa has expired which causes great distress.
“Candidate wrongly assume that because they have been given ‘sponsorship certificate’ by their employer they’re guaranteed to get the leave to remain extended.”
Evelie added that common mistakes include not advertising the post and assuming the job is still on the ‘National Shortage Occupations’ list or issuing a certificate when application clearly falls short of the required points.
The message is clear. Employers should take greater care before issuing certificates and migrant workers must ensure their application meets the rules and requirements before submitting it to the UK Border Agency.
Employing migrant workers illegally could cost you a £10,000 civil penalty as well as leading to the removal of the worker from the UK.
The UK Border Agency’s website contains useful information on Sponsoring workers under the points-based system, which includes a section on HR systems and compliance.
If you are still unsure of the steps you need to take when employing overseas (non EU/EEA Workers) workers, including Bulgarian and Romanian Citizens, visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/employers or call the UKBA employers’ helpline on 0845 010 6677.
Immigration advisers like Bison UK provides a file audit or vetting service for employers unsure about whether or not their staff are legally employed.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Studying in the UK, Settlement, Citizenship, Sponsorship, extending Work Permits, Visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: