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Further Adjustments to UK Immigration Criteria

Managing the current crisis

Tier 2 Sponsors and Tier 2 Sponsored Workers

Salary reduction for Tier 2 sponsored workers

In circumstances where a business cannot pay the salaries of sponsored workers because of a reduction in trading, the salary of sponsored migrants can be reduced to 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower.

This is only permitted where such reductions are part of a company-wide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated the same. This means sponsored workers cannot be treated more or less favourably than non-sponsored workers.

These reductions must be temporary, and the migrant’s salary must return to at least previous levels once these arrangements have ended.

Any change in salary must be reported against the sponsored migrant’s CoS within ten working days. We also recommend documentary evidence of the reason for the reduction be retained on the individual’s personnel file. 

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) validity periods extended  

If the CoS has been assigned but the sponsored worker has not been able to apply for a UK entry-clearance because of disruption caused by COVID-19, the Home Office has confirmed it will not automatically refuse cases where the start date of employment has changed.

For example, a CoS may still be accepted in an application even if it has become invalid because the sponsored worker has been unable to travel to the UK in the current crisis. This will be considered on a case by case basis.

Whilst further clarification on this measure is needed from the Home Office, it suggests the CoS may still be used in an entry-clearance application beyond the usual three month period prior to the assignment date. It also suggests Tier 2 (General) migrants may be able to start work later than 28 days following visa approval or the stated CoS start date where the cause for the delay is Covid-19 restrictions.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneurs)

If a business has been disrupted as a result of Covid-19 

The Home Office has confirmed that the requirement to employ two full time members of staff for a consecutive 12 month period each has been relaxed.

Entrepreneurs may now be able to amalgamate multiple members of staff across different months in order to make up the minimum two members of full-time staff for 12 months. They will not be able to use any time an employee is furloughed towards the 12 month period required.

If it is not possible for an entrepreneur to satisfy this requirement by the time their leave to remain expires, they will be allowed to temporarily extend their to obtain time to meet the requirement. 

NHS Workers

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced the following provisions on 31st March 2020:

  • Doctors, nurses and paramedics employed by the NHS, together with their family members, and whose visas are due to expire before 1 October 2020, will have their visas automatically extended, free of charge, for one year and will not be subject to the immigration health surcharge.
  • This automatic extension will involve the return of BRPs in order that new ones can be issued.
  • The restriction on the amount of hours student nurses and trainee doctors can work in the NHS during term time has been removed.
  • Pre-registered overseas nurses who are currently required to sit their first skills test within three months and pass the OSCE within eight months, will now have until the end of the year to complete this.
  • Existing applications received for indefinite leave to remain will be processed.
  • Individuals who have applied to switch visas will be prioritised.

In addition, those in the UK as Visitors, for example Doctors on clinical attachments who are eligible to secure GMC registration, or those Doctors who have recently passed their PLAB, can now apply for a Tier 2 visa from within the UK.


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