UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) recently announced a number of changes to the guidance on sponsor duties and compliance, which applies to employers who are approved by the Home Office as licenced sponsors under various visa routes. There are new reporting duties for those sponsoring an offshore worker. The guidance has also clarified that hybrid working arrangements must be reported for sponsored workers.
The updated guidance includes new duties for employers sponsoring offshore workers. For the purposes of the guidance, an 'offshore worker' is defined as someone who arrives directly into UK waters for the purpose of work without first entering through UK landmass.
From 12 April 2023, employers sponsoring an offshore worker must notify UKVI of the dates that the worker:
- first arrives in UK waters at the beginning of the job for which they are being sponsored, and
- leaves UK waters at the end of the job for which they are being sponsored.
This must be done no earlier than the date the worker arrives or leaves UK waters (whichever is relevant) and no later than 10 working days after the worker arrives or leaves UK waters. Reports cannot be made through the Sponsor Management System at the moment, instead sponsors should email the offshore worker notification inbox ([email protected]) with the following information:
- the sponsor licence reference number
- the Certificate of Sponsorship reference number of the offshore worker
- the name, date of birth and nationality of the offshore worker
- the name of the ship or vessel on which the offshore worker will be based, and
- the date they arrived in, or left, UK waters (as appropriate).
UKVI have confirmed that notification is not required if an offshore worker:
- takes any permitted temporary leave from UK waters (e.g. annual leave)
- arrives through immigration control on the UK landmass before they arrive in UK waters (however where that is the case, sponsors should ensure they record their date of entry, in line with the record-keeping duties in Appendix D of UKVI sponsors guidance.
Reporting hybrid working arrangements
Further information on reporting a sponsored workers 'normal work location' has been included in the guidance. In addition to reporting a change in the site, branch or office where a sponsored worker is based, sponsors will also need to report through the Sponsor Management System when a sponsored worker:
- is, or will be, working remotely from home on a permanent or full-time basis (with little or no requirement to physically attend a workplace), or
- has moved, or will be moving, to a hybrid working pattern.
Many employers have introduced hybrid working arrangements over the last few years. Employers should carry out an internal audit of their sponsored workers to ensure that all hybrid working arrangements (not just new ones introduced since the date of the guidance) have been properly reported.
The guidance clarifies that day-to-day changes in work location do not need to be reported (e.g. if a worker occasionally works at a different branch, site or at home), it is only changes to a sponsored worker's regular pattern that need to be reported. Employers should therefore ensure that their sponsored workers' normal work location is up to date on the Sponsor Management System and take steps to update this if they haven't already.
Information about the changes to sponsor management procedures which are moving to a more automated system have been confirmed in the guidance. Details of these can be found in our previous update.
There were also some other minor clarifications and amendments made to the guidance. It's important for employers of sponsored workers to always make sure they are following the most up to date versions of the UKVI guidance as it is updated regularly.
Full information on the sponsor licence duties and compliance obligations that apply to licenced sponsors can be found in the UKVI guidance and in Appendix D. For more information on any of the issues discussed in this blog, including sponsor licence compliance duties and training we can provide to help, please contact Elaine McIlroy or Erin McLafferty.