Svetlova LLP

(COVID-19): guidance for Tier 2 sponsors

April 2nd, 2020

Guidance has been issued by the Home Office concerning Tier 2 visa sponsor licence responsibilities.

With an increasing number of non-UK employees likely to be absent from work or working remotely, the Home Office has instructed Tier 2 visa sponsors to follow certain steps to remain compliant with their duties as a sponsor.

Any employee absence that has been authorised due to coronavirus does not need to be reported

The guidance, issued on 24 March, specified that while absences from work for more than 10 working days without permission and a change in working location should typically be reported to the Home Office within 10 working days, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tier 2 visa sponsors will not be required to notify the Home Office of an employee’s absences and working location where the absences have been a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Additionally, Tier 2 visa sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn should an employee be absent without pay for four weeks or more due to COVID-19.

It is recommended that the employer keeps records of all communication with the sponsored migrant as evidence of the period of absence.

Absences may be due to the following reasons:

  • The migrant, or a relative, are unwell;
  • The migrant is unable to travel to the UK;
  • The place of work closes completely or partially.

Can a Tier 2 migrant work from home?

Sponsors have an obligation to report a change in work location. However, given the current circumstances, unless the migrant’s usual place of work changes, for the time being, a sponsor does not have to report if their workers are working from home.

It is recommended that before any employee works from home, the employer checks that their records are up-to-date with their current residential address and direct contact details.

What are the rules on Tier 2 sponsored migrant taking unpaid leave or a reduced salary?

The Home Office confirmed that it will not take any compliance action against sponsors if they authorise short periods of unpaid leave (up to four week’s in a calendar year) during the current exceptional situation.

A reduction in salary is permitted providing the new rate is not below the current appropriate rate requirements for the role sponsored under Tier 2.

If you require advice or assistance with your current immigration status or wish to discuss your specific circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us