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Sponsorship changes

The Home Office have updated two guidance documents relating to sponsoring migrants to work in the UK. These are:

There are a number of changes that have been made to the documents, but the main ones to be aware of are listed here.

Changing a start date from the date specified on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

A worker can now start their employment before the start date on the CoS, provided their application has been approved and they are within the visa validity period – essentially, from the travel date.

More flexibility to the 28-day rule for delaying start dates have been added. You should be aware that the parameter of the exceptions to the 28-day delay rule is not explained in full in the guidance. SMS reports should still be submitted at the earliest opportunity. These will then be assessed by UKVI on a case-by-case basis. Examples of acceptable situations for delaying a start date beyond 28 days given in the guidance are:

  • travel disruption due to a natural disaster, military conflict or pandemic
  • where the individual is required to work out a contractual notice period for their previous employer
  • the individual requires an exit visa from their home country and there have been administrative delays in processing this
  • illness, bereavement or other compelling family or personal circumstances

Assessing working hours

Working hours should be stated in the DCoS application moving forward. This should be included in the “summary of job description” section. The aim of this is to ensure that an accurate assessment is made, at the earliest stage possible, of whether the salary provided is a genuine reflection of what the individual will be paid. This is a requirement of the visa type.

Concessions for extended absences

A concession for extended absences beyond four weeks without pay has been added. There has to be a compelling or compassionate reason for the absence. In the same way that the flexibility with start dates will be assessed, each SMS report for an extended period of absence will be judged on its own merits.

A clear explanation should therefore be provided in your reporting submission. The Home Office may cancel an employee’s permission to remain in the UK if they are not satisfied that there is a valid reason for you to continue sponsoring the individual if they have been on unpaid leave for more than four weeks.

Including allowances in the gross salary

Sponsors should be aware that only certain allowances should be included in the gross salary stated on the certificate of sponsorship. Allowances such as accommodation, shift weighting, or cost of living allowances should not be included; even if they are guaranteed.

There are some transitional arrangements to what allowances are accepted. These are in place for those individuals already sponsored in the UK and wish to make an application for permission to stay or for indefinite leave to remain before 1 December 2026. The employee must already be on a skilled worker or Tier 2 (General) visa and must continue to be sponsored by the same sponsor. The allowances accepted in these transitional arrangements are those that will also be paid to a local settled worker in similar circumstances. A London weighting allowance is a good example of this.

Check your job descriptions

Finally, sponsors should be careful to note that the guidance updates include confirmation that the Home Office will take compliance action against a business where they find that false, misleading or incorrect information about the skill level of a job has been included on a CoS.

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