The Home Office has finally published the guidance pertaining to the new UK immigration system for employers and sponsor licence. Barar & Associates has summarised some of the most important information below. However, if you are an employer sponsor or wish to be one, it is advisable that you read the full guidance and contact an immigration adviser if you have any questions.
Your Sponsorship Management System (SMS)
The Home Office will update their IT systems between 7pm on Friday 27 November and 9am on Tuesday 1 December 2020 in preparation for the implementation of the new UK immigration system. Employers will not have access to their Sponsorship Management System nor to the online Sponsor Licence application form during this period.
If you already hold a sponsor licence, it will be automatically updated to a licence for Skilled Worker and/or Intra-Company routes, you do not need to do anything.
However, all saved but incomplete applications to add routes to an existing licence will be deleted. Therefore, you will need to restart the process if this is outstanding.
Your annual allocation of Tier 2 General and/or Intra Company Transfer Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) will also be automatically updated to a Skilled Worker and/or Intra-Company routes allocation and any unassigned CoS will be transferred over. The new allocations will have the same expiry date as the respective previous allocations.
From 1 December 2020, the CoS categories on SMS will be updated and any CoS you assign from this date will be in the new category: Skilled Worker and/or Intra-Company routes.
It is advisable that, if your licence will expire between 27 November and 2 December 2020, you apply to renew your licence as soon as possible. If you do not apply before the expiry of your licence, it will be temporary extended for 7 days where you must apply during this timeframe or your licence will lapse.
Documents for Sponsor Licence application
Under the old system, employers needed to submit their Sponsor Licence application online and then had 5 working days to send the supporting documents and ensure that the Home Office received those documents within this timeframe. Moreover, the documents had to be either original or certified copies with strict rules about certification.
Under the new system, which should be in place from 1 December 2020, the supporting documents will now be sent via email. This is welcoming news as this will simplify the process for most of the employers.
It is very important to send all the mandatory documents and the Home Office will start by undertaking online checks. They can also check details, or the correctness or genuineness of documents submitted with the issuing organisation such as banks and other government departments in the UK and overseas.
Your duties as a licensed sponsor include:
- reporting duties – You must report certain information or events to the Home Office on your SMS within 10 or 20 working days (depending on the information or events to report).
- record-keeping duties – You must keep certain documents for each worker you sponsor, either in paper or electronic form.
- complying with the immigration laws and all parts of the Worker and Temporary Worker sponsorship guidance – You can access the full guidance via this link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/936740/2020-11-18_Sponsor-guidance-Part-3-compliance-11-20_v1.0.pdf
- complying with wider UK law
- not engaging in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good
The sanctions for employing workers illegally may result in a civil penalty up to £20,000 for each illegal worker and/or prison for up to 5 years. Therefore, it is important to understand and comply with your duties once you are a sponsor.
New Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
There will be two types of CoS under the new UK immigration system:
- ‘defined’ CoS for Skilled Workers applying for a visa from outside the UK; and
- ‘undefined’ CoS for Skilled Workers applying for a visa from within the UK and for CoS assigned to workers on all other routes, whether applying for a visa from within or outside the UK.
Barar & Associates will shortly publish an article focusing on CoS.
Should you wish to discuss how to obtain a sponsor licence or your duties as a sponsor in more detail, please contact our expert team of London immigration lawyers at Barar and Associates at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7487 8370. You can access more information about us via https://bararassociates.com/