What all migrant workers and sponsors need to know

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Once skilled migrants from overseas have moved to the UK and begun to work under their newly acquired immigration status, it is likely that at some point there will be changes to their pay and job role. 

So what happens when their employment circumstances change?  What responsibilities do they/their sponsors have in reporting these to the Home Office?

(The information below relates to workers on Tier 2 of the Points Based System) 

1.    Performance related pay rise

As the migrant worker progresses in their job and industry they would (hope!) to receive a pay rise in line with their period of service in the job and on merit.  If a migrant does receive a change of salary from the level stated on their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), other than small changes due to annual increments or bonuses, then as the sponsor, an employer will need to report the change to the Home Office. This can be done via the Sponsor Management System (SMS) within 10 working days of the salary increase.

If a worker receives a salary reduction, then again this will need to be reported via the SMS as above. However, should the salary drop to a level below the minimum as set out in the Home Office Codes of Practice for that position, then a fresh visa application may have to be submitted.

2.  Promotion

When a migrant worker receives a promotion or change in job title, or core duties the employer must inform the Home Office via the SMS as above.  This is provided that the new position remains within the same Standard Occupational Classification code (SOC Code) that was used when the initial CoS was assigned.

However, should the promotion create a new position and duties causing a change of SOC Code, then the employer will need to perform a resident labour market test and (should there be no suitable applicants) an application will need to be submitted for a new Tier 2 CoS and visa application.

3.  Supplementary employment

Some migrant workers may wish to supplement their income with another job and in fact, many occupations lend themselves to additional employment.  For example, many teachers may wish to tutor or an IT specialist may wish to complete computer repairs in their spare time.

Migrants sponsored under Tier 2  are allowed, in limited circumstances to undertake other work in addition to that which their CoS was assigned, called ‘Supplementary Employment’. The advantage of this is that it does not have to meet the resident labour market test requirements and the employer does not have to be a licensed sponsor.

However, the supplementary employment must be:

  • in the same profession and at the same professional level as the work for which the migrant’s CoS was assigned
  • a job which is on the list of shortage occupations
  • for no more than 20 hours a week
  • outside of the normal working hours for which the migrant’s CoS was assigned.

There is no requirement to advise the Home Office of any supplementary employment as long as it meets the above criteria.

The Home Office recognises the value that skilled migrant workers on Tier 2 Visas bring to the economy. They also acknowledge that this type of worker will want to progress within their careers and that the work permission process will need to be flexible to cope with these changes. As such the Home Office has made it possible for employers to reward migrant workers and support change where this is required by the employer, desired by the employee or mutually agreed.

It is imperative however that employers ensure they meet their sponsorship obligations in relation to any changes of employment of their migrant workers. Otherwise, employers risk losing their sponsor licence or having it downgraded to a ‘B’ rating for failure to report the changes and migrant workers risk losing their entitlement to work in the UK.

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