New reporting duties were introduced in the latest Sponsor Guidance for sponsors holding licences under Tiers 2 and 5.
Changes to paragraph 614 require sponsors, including universities and businesses, to notify UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) of the sponsored individual’s last recorded residential address and contact telephone number when reporting:
- their failure to attend their first day of work,
- the contract with them finishing earlier than the date indicated on the CoS,
- the end of the sponsoring arrangement for any other reason, and
- their absence from work for more than 10 consecutive days without permission.
The duty also extends to situations where the sponsor must comply with its duty to pass to the police any information that may suggest the individual may be engaging in terrorism or other criminal activity.
Whilst these changes may appear to be fairly inconspicuous at first glance, sponsors will need to ensure that they have permission from individuals who are sponsored to disclose this information to UKVI. Offer letters, employment or service contracts, handbooks and data protection policies may need to be amended. Consent may be needed from individuals who were already sponsored before these new measures were introduced and that may give rise to complicated legal issues if the individual withholds it.
A sponsor that fails to comply with any of its duties, including this one, risks enforcement action being taken and that could result in the licence being downgraded or revoked.
The general election will take place on 7 May 2015 and immigration is already starting to dominate the headlines. Whilst it is extremely unlikely that net migration will fall to below 100,000, the Government has already proposed a raft of additional measures, including a new Immigration Bill, designed to demonstrate that it is in control.
We are expecting there to be a significant increase in enforcement action against individuals who are, or who are considered to be, breaching their conditions of stay or who cannot clearly demonstrate that they have the right to be in the UK.
This is likely to have a knock-on effect triggering a significant increase in enforcement action, including increased civil penalties, against those businesses and education providers held to be responsible for providing prohibited employment or study opportunities.
An increase in enforcement action, combined with a continued drive to reduce net migration means that sponsors will need to carefully balance their obligations under their sponsor licences with their obligations to migrant workers and/or students.
If you need further information about these measures, please contact us.