Business Immigration has never been so relevant to so many businesses in the UK. The Government’s proposals to end freedom of movement for EEA nationals when the Brexit transition period expires at the end of 2020 and introduce a new points based immigration system which applies to both EEA and non-EEA nationals from January 2021 means that employers who have previously never needed to engage with immigration requirements may well find they have to do so in the future. Under current proposals, businesses will require a sponsor licence to recruit individuals from anywhere outside the UK from January 2021, which will be a major shift from the current situation in which recruitment from within the EEA is not subject to such constraints.
At Walker Morris, we have a dedicated Business Immigration Team with specialists in this area who have first-hand experience of helping employers navigate the complex processes of obtaining sponsor licences, sponsoring migrant workers and obtaining individual visas. We also regularly advise on all immigration aspects of corporate transactions, including assisting with post-transaction notification requirements to the Home Office. Our recent experience includes:
- advising Premier League and EFL clubs in respect of player and coaching staff immigration requirements;
- applying for Governing Body Endorsements from The Football Association for players;
- managing the Tier 2 sponsor licence of one of the world’s largest restaurant chains;
- securing the sponsor licence of a client which was threatened with revocation following an unannounced audit by the Home Office;
- successfully obtaining a representative of an overseas business visa to facilitate the establishment of a UK presence for a major US insurance provider; and
- advising on all aspects of the impact of Brexit on existing workforces and future recruitment plans.
Our immigration services include:
Immigration Compliance and Preventing Illegal Working
All employers are required to verify their workforce’s right to work in the UK. Failure to carry out the prescribed checks carries the risk of civil penalties of up to £20,000 per illegal worker, as well as potential criminal sanctions. We help employers get the required policies and procedures in place to ensure they are not inadvertently employing illegal workers, and advise on the appropriate steps if they discover they might be.
In an increasingly globalised marketplace, the ability to recruit the finest talent from anywhere in the world is essential to retaining a competitive edge. Whether a business needs to fill a permanent position, or temporarily transfer an employee from an international group company, it needs to have its house in order including obtaining a sponsor licence from the Home Office. The current Government proposals to extend the sponsorship regime to recruits from the EEA from January 2021 means many employers who don’t current require a licence will do so in the future. We regularly assist clients with applying for sponsor licences and the stringent process for sponsoring individual migrant workers, including ensuring the relevant skills and salary thresholds are satisfied, and conducting compliant resident labour market tests.
Being a licensed sponsor comes with onerous responsibilities and obligations, including establishing and maintaining adequate internal reporting and compliance procedures. We help employers navigate all of their responsibilities as a sponsor.
Routes of Entry
We advise on the most appropriate route of entry into the UK for staff usually based at an overseas establishment, which may include using the visitor route if the purpose of the visit is to undertake certain permitted activities. We guide individuals through the entry clearance process and prepare documentation required to maximise the chances of successfully gaining entry into the UK.
Businesses who are licensed sponsors can expect a Home Office audit of their immigration compliance at any time (including through unannounced visits). If an employer has been notified of an impending audit, or simply wants to be prepared, we can help by undertaking a “mock audit” to check whether HR systems comply with legal requirements and best practice, and provide practical advice if they fall short.
Upskilling your Staff
Managers or staff responsible for immigration compliance within their organisations would often benefit from a refresher on their company’s responsibilities under immigration legislation. This includes the nominated “key personnel” under the sponsor licence who are responsible for the management of the licence. We can put together a bespoke training package to give those making critical recruitment and management decisions the knowledge they need to protect the business from the risk of employing illegal workers or falling foul of their sponsorship obligations.