The rules and regulations for businesses
How we can help...
Immigration policy remains firmly at the forefront of political debate given the government’s promise to reduce net skilled migration to the tens of thousands.
Brexit has created uncertainty for businesses and staff in relation to the status of EEA nationals in the future.
For those businesses that need to recruit from outside of the EEA, it can be a struggle to navigate the ambiguous and ever-changing requirements of the points-based system and ensure that onerous obligations to the Home Office are met. Getting it wrong could result in the revocation of a sponsor licence and a ban on recruiting migrant workers.
If businesses do not conduct the correct right to work checks, they risk significant penalties and damage to reputation.
Click here to read our article on how Brexit will affect businesses from an immigration perspective.
Our experienced immigration team is here to support your business with these issues by providing clear, practical and tailored solutions. As all of our team are specialists in employment law, we can also provide added-value advice on connected HR matters.
We have developed competitively priced products to help navigate the immigration rules and regulations, including:
- one stop licence to sponsor and visa applications
- immigration due diligence
- sponsorship licence - level 1 and 2 user
- right to work audit.
We discuss these in more detail within this document.
What we can help with...
- Sponsor Licence applications - renewals; revocations; and suspensions.
- Product innovation - navigate the immigration rules and regulations via our competitively priced Immigration Checker; one-stop Licence to Sponsor and visa application product; and level 1 and 2 user offering.
- Specialists in employment law - providing clients with added-value advice on connected HR matters, such as the termination of illegal workers; document checking and recruitment.
- Advising on in-country and visa applications from abroad under the Points Based System (e.g. skilled workers; intra-company transfers; entrepreneurs; investors; students; sole representatives; charity workers; sports persons; exceptional talent; and youth mobility).
- Providing training to those who are responsible for compliance with immigration rules and regulations.
- Reviewing HR systems and recordkeeping to support with UKVI audits.
- Advising on other jurisdictions via our network of carefully selected overseas lawyers.
- Acting as Key Contact, Level 2 User and Level 1 User for the Sponsor Licence.
- Advising on compliance with the Government’s prevention of illegal working requirements.
- Advising on alternative routes into the UK, such as business visitor visas; indefinite leave to remain; UK ancestry; and British citizenship.
What our clients say...
Browne Jacobson always provides clear, practical and business focussed advice. I have no hesitation in recommending them not only as immigration specialists, but also for all areas of employment and HR issues.
Wendy Shah, HR Manager, Summers Morgan
Helen understands the needs of our business and provides clear, practical and commercial immigration advice to enable us to recruit key strategic hires. We can trust her to provide a service which is value for money and which meets demands, often within tight deadlines. I would have no hesitation in recommending Helen's services to others.
Peter Hearsey, Executive Director, Legal & Property House of Fraser (stores) Ltd
licence to sponsor and visa applications
One-stop ‘Licence to Sponsor’ and visa applications
Immigration policy remains at the forefront of political debate, with a movement towards the reduction of net migration. Notwithstanding this, given the shortage of qualified resident workers, employers are finding it increasingly vital to fill the skills gap from outside of Europe.
In order to do so, organisations will likely have to apply for a Licence to Sponsor and then, even if successful in obtaining this, the intended recruit will need to score the necessary points and apply for the appropriate visa to be permitted to come and work for you.
The rules are complex and constantly changing; the process is time-consuming; and responsibility for compliance with onerous obligations has been transferred from UK Visas & Immigration to the employer.
If you do not accurately complete the application process for the appropriate Licence to Sponsor and/or visa, the applications will be rejected and you will lose valuable time and money by having to start the process over again. In addition, employing a migrant worker illegally could result in fines of up to £20,000 and criminal prosecutions, as well as the potential for the UKVI to bar you from recruiting migrant workers indefinitely.
It is therefore important that you get it right and that you get it right first time. With this in mind, we have developed a low cost product to provide you with the support that you need to maximise your chances of obtaining a Licence to Sponsor and the visa that will enable your intended recruit to come to the UK and commence work for you.
How can we help...
We will provide you with peace of mind by:
- assessing whether or not the individual you want to recruit will be likely to score the requisite points to be able to obtain a visa
- managing the application for a Licence to Sponsor (to include reviewing the supporting documentation and advising on the correct fee)
- assisting you in obtaining a Certificate of Sponsorship to enable the individual to obtain a visa
- advising you on the contents of the visa application that the individual will need to make, as well as the visa application process
- advising you on your obligations to the UKVI to assist you in maintaining your licence and continuing to employ non-EEA nationals.
immigration due diligence
Immigration due diligence
If you haven’t already been audited by the UKVI, you might reasonably be expecting an audit at some point during the life of your four year licence to sponsor. Your HR systems therefore need to be up to scratch. If the UKVI are not satisfied that you’ve complied with your obligations to them, your licence could be suspended or revoked, which could threaten your ability to recruit migrants indefinitely. In addition, heavy fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker and/or criminal sanctions of up to five years’ imprisonment may be imposed.
With the ever changing immigration rules and regulations; fluctuations in those staff who are managing your systems; and changing business needs, it can be difficult to maintain this. Are you confident that your systems and processes would withstand a UKVI audit?
How we can help...
To support you with this, we offer a low cost audit of your HR immigration systems where we can:
- assess your understanding and compliance of the points-based system
- review a sample of existing migrant files to assess whether they would meet UKVI requirements
- make recommendations for improvements/changes
- provide you with a comprehensive written report summarising the above to support you with your UKVI audit.
Why do you need an HR immigration audit?
- to ensure you can recruit the best staff to meet the needs of your organisation
- to provide comfort that you would be able to establish a statutory excuse against criminal and/or civil penalties including imprisonment and fines of up to £20,000 per illegal migrant
- to assist you in successfully obtaining and maintaining an A-rated licence to sponsor
- to assist in ensuring that your organisation remains an attractive proposition in the event of a sale of your business
- to prepare you for a UKVI audit
- to avoid negative press and employment tribunal proceedings.
Browne Jacobson LLP impresses with its ‘excellent service level’
Legal 500 2018
sponsorship licence - level 1 and 2 users
Sponsorship licence - level 1 and 2 users
Many employers will require a licence to sponsor in order to be able to recruit migrant workers and students. There are a number of hoops that you will need to jump through to be able to obtain a licence, including allocating ‘key personnel’ to be responsible for compliance with your licence obligations.
One of the ‘key personnel’ you will need to appoint, is a level 1 user. The level 1 user is the person with access to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) – the gateway between you and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). The level 1 user is responsible for keeping the day to day smooth running of your SMS and that at least, including applying for and assigning certificates of sponsorship, as well as renewing your licence to sponsor.
The UKVI require that you have more than one level 1 user to ensure the smooth running of your SMS and that at least one of your level 1 users is an employee. The other level 1 user can be a UK-based representative.
You may also wish to assign the role of level 2 user to us. Level 2 users have fewer permissions than level 1 users but can assign CoS to workers and report worker activity.
You are responsible for the actions of all key personnel, including representatives, so it’s important that you have confidence in the key personnel that you appoint.
How we can help...
For a low cost fee, we can act as your second level 1 user and / or level 2 user and offer the following:
- review messages and information posted on SMS and update you on this, where appropriate
- add or remove level 1 and/or 2 users
- apply for a restricted CoS
- request an increase in the number of unrestricted Tier 2 CoS’ that you can assign each year
- assign restricted or unrestricted CoS
- advise you on renewal of your licence to sponsor within sufficient time and, if required, apply for a renewal, tracking the progress of any such application
- advise the UKVI of any minor changes to your details
- report migrant activity
- withdraw a CoS
- amend user details.
Why do you need Browne Jacobson to perform the level 1 user role?
- we have a track record of acting as level 1 user for numerous clients and are recognised by the UKVI to act in this capacity
- we can offer readily available advice and support to your organisation’s level 1 user
- we can provide cover for your level 1 user in the event of their unexpected absence
- we can assist you in ensuring compliance with your licence obligations
- we can assist you in successfully maintaining an A-rated licence to sponsor.
Helen Taylor is a key figure in the Browne Jacobson LLP’s immigration practice. Helen acts for businesses and high-net-worth individuals in connection with the points-based system and UKVI compliance.
Legal 500 2016
Browne Jacobson have supported our business through a number of difficult sponsorships and throughout this process their approach to client relationship management has been excellent. Without fail, they have provided a prompt and professional service and I am always confident in the advice that is provided to us as a business.
Aurum Holdings Ltd
Right to work audit
All UK employers are required to ensure that anyone employed under a contract for service or apprenticeship has the right to work in the UK, including those who claim to be UK or European Economic Area (EEA) nationals.
An employer must check specified documentation before the individual commences work and, in certain circumstances, undertake repeat checks on an annual basis. There are also specific rules on exactly what documents must be copied and in what form. If an employer breaches the requirements on right to work checks, it may find itself subject to hefty criminal and/or civil penalties, including fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker and five years’ imprisonment. This is also likely to result in damage to reputation and, for those of you who have a ‘Licence to Sponsor’, your licence could be revoked.
Recent changes to the legislation, as well as significant increase in the number of published prosecutions by the Home Office, means that it is increasingly important that all employers have a robust process in place to ensure that they can evidence that staff have the right to work in the UK.
In our experience, problems can arise, for instance, after a worker’s appointment has commenced or where the employing entity comes under new ownership, and either the correct document checks have not been done or the documents were fraudulent. By this point it can be too late to rely on potential defences.
Are those who are responsible for undertaking document checks in your organisation always entirely clear on the requirements? If not, we can offer a low fixed fee audit, to assist you in ensuring that you don’t fall foul of this legislation.
How does this work?
- we will review existing personnel files (number to be agreed with you), to assess whether they would meet legislative requirements
- we will talk through the requirements, with those responsible for undertaking the checks, to ensure their understanding and compliance with government guidance on right to work checks is accurate
- we will make recommendations for improvements/changes
- we can provide you with a comprehensive written report summarising the above
- we can provide training for those responsible for recruitment so that they are clear on their obligations going forwards.
Why do you need Browne Jacobson to do this?
- we have a track record of advising clients on their right to work obligations
- we are permitted by the UKVI/Home Office to provide immigration advice
- we employ HR consultants who have hands on experience of what is required to comply with right to work checks.
I highly recommend this firm. They take something that can be overwhelming and simplify it with a personal touch that makes your application feel like you're the only client they have.
Laurie Strickland, 'Everyone’s Carol', Actress/Producer
Helen Taylor, Associate
t: +44 (0)115 908 4897
Helen heads Browne Jacobson’s immigration team and is based in our Nottingham office, having a particular focus on providing advice to large corporates and SME’s on the Points Based System and UKVI compliance. Helen is also an employment specialist, which enables her to provide added-value advice on connected HR matters.
‘Very knowledgeable’ practice head Helen Taylor ‘understands commercial reality well’.
Legal 500 2017
Natalie Fuller, Solicitor
t: +44 (0)20 7871 8508
Natalie is based in our London office and provides immigration advice to clients in all of our sectors, to include advice on the prevention of illegal working and advising businesses on how their employees can secure settlement. Natalie is also an employment specialist
Catherine Hamilton, HR Consultancy Manager
t: +44 (0)115 908 4893
Catherine is a member of our HR consultancy team, with experience supporting UK and global companies in a wide variety of sectors including specialist engineering, manufacturing, logistics and retail. She has many years’ experience with the day to day management of licences to sponsor and the issues that can arise with this, as well as providing a key role in the prevention of illegal working.
Esme Dickinson, HR Consultant
t: +44 (0)330 045 2562
Esme is a member of the HR Consultancy Team, based in the London office. Having worked in three of the country’s largest MATs, she is experienced in providing immigration and sponsorship advice within the education sector, including complying with sponsorship requirements and right to work issues.
Alex Berkshire, Solicitor
t: +44 (0)121 237 3909
Alex is a solicitor in our Birmingham office and advises on both immigration and employment law matters across the firm’s private, education and health sectors, including advising on the prevention of illegal working and associated right to work issues.
We offer clear opinions and straightforward legal advice, whenever and wherever you need it – locally, nationally and internationally. Complex problems – understood, explained and resolved by a single team, across five offices nationally, working together in long term partnership with you – a genuinely different approach. Exceptional service, every time, from experts you trust and costs that reflect what you value in a law firm, not the things you don’t. Sometimes you just need a lawyer, but you’ll want to do business with us.
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- a true partnership approach with our clients - our clients stay us with us for the long term because of our sector expertise, straightforward advice, pricing and product innovation and exceptional client service.
For more information about how we can help visit brownejacobson.com