News & Insights

Immigration requirements

Imelda Reddington discusses the increasing impact of immigration rules on all employers and businesses.

The ability to recruit workers from overseas is increasingly complex with strict rules in place for evidence of recruitment activities before employing migrants in the UK.

Quite often employers need prior registration (Sponsor Licence) with the Home Office before making job offers to migrants.  The process is complicated and invariably creates delays to filling vacancies.

Once the sponsored migrants arrive in the UK, the employer’s role becomes that of an ‘immigration officer’.  Sponsors assume duties (by virtue of sponsorship) to monitor and control the day to day activities of the sponsored employees, reporting certain activities to the Home Office within specific reporting deadlines.  If an employer fails to report as required, the Sponsor could face suspension or revocation of their licence.

The Home Office assumes that Sponsors are capable of accepting this responsibility, quoting sponsorship as a privilege rather than a right.  Therefore, duties associated with sponsoring migrants should be taken very seriously.

Aside from sponsorship duties, all employers must conduct “right to work” checks when taking on new recruits.  This involves checking the identity and nationality of all candidates before their first day of employment to check they have the correct immigration status for the position.  Employers must also carry out checks during employment to ensure continued compliance with immigration law.  There are civil and criminal penalties for employers that fail in their duty to prevent illegal working.  Fines imposed can be up to £20,000 per worker together with the public naming and shaming of organisations fined each quarter.

With the proposed Brexit arrangements, employers will not have to conduct any additional checks for EEA employees until the end of 2020.  After this time, employers must request a new status from EEA workers to ensure they continue to have permission to work in the UK.  Note this is not compulsory until January 2021 (depending on the Brexit arrangements).

Many EU nationals will have already registered under the EU Settlement Scheme.  We would recommend that employers ask employees to share their new online status once its approved, recording this as a new right to work check.

For all your business immigration needs, please contact our immigration team at FSP.