• UK Sponsorship System - October Developments
  • November 18, 2008 | Author: Scott M. James
  • Law Firm: Faegre & Benson LLP - London Office
  • This update describes October developments in the evolution of the radically new immigration system for "migrant workers" - the UK term given to all workers from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland.

    Commencement Date. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) recently announced that key parts of the new points-based immigration system will commence on 27 November 2008. From that date, UK employers must be licensed as sponsors to bring in or to renew the immigration status of migrant workers in the Tier 2 (skilled workers) or Tier 5 (youth mobility and temporary workers) categories. Employers considering hiring a migrant worker but wishing to postpone becoming a sponsor as long as possible should ensure that the work permit application for that worker reaches UKBA before November 27.

    Clarification Concerning Work Permits Issued After 27 November 2008. UKBA has made clear that it will continue to issue work permits after the start of Tier 2 for work permit applications received by UKBA before November 27. Work permit holders can use these work permits in the normal way for entry clearance and leave to remain applications.

    Transitional Rules. UKBA recently announced transitional rules for persons on work permits moving to Tier 2 sponsorship. Workers in work permit status can remain in the UK until the end of that status; they are unaffected by this new system until then. If they have also been granted entry clearance abroad for over six months, that entry clearance will remain valid for entries to the UK for the duration of the remaining period of their leave after November 26. However, those who have been granted leave for less than six months will need to qualify under the new points-based system in order to re-enter the UK after November 26.

    More Transitional Rules. The transitional rules grant significant concessions to workers on full work permits whose employers want to extend their employment beyond their current leave after November 26. These employees will, of course, have to qualify under the points-based system. However, in calculating the points needed for Tier 2 eligibility, these employees will not be required to score points for their qualifications, prospective earnings, the resident labour market test, their English language skills or the maintenance requirements. Work permit holders changing jobs after November 26 will need to meet the full Tier 2 criteria.

    Maintenance Requirements. In the sponsorship system, migrant workers will need to meet certain financial criteria (maintenance requirements). These sums are weighted equivalents of £800 for the migrant worker and £534 for each dependent accompanying the migrant worker. UKBA informally announced recently that the maintenance requirements for Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrants can be satisfied by a sponsor's letter guaranteeing satisfaction of the relevant monetary requirement. However, only sponsors who are A-rated will be able to give this undertaking and then only for the migrant worker. The worker's dependents will still have to prove availability of the requisite funds.