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Home Office rushes in new behaviour tests for employer sponsors


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The Home Office regularly updates the guidance documents that it issues to approved visa sponsors, and those thinking of becoming one, under Tiers 2, 4 and 5 of the Points Based System. Tier 4 covers sponsors of international students and Tiers 2 and 5 relate to those coming to the UK for work.

It’s easy to lose track but I think we’re on about version 40 of the Tier 2 and 5 guidance (since 2008…).

And yesterday another revised version popped up somewhat unexpectedly — and typically just as I was about to finalise a client’s sponsor licence application. (At least I wasn’t just about to present a live training course or conference session which is usually when they strike.)  

I was about to turn to the section called “Changes from [sic] last version of the guidance” — which is handy but comes with a risk warning to always read the specific paragraph that has been updated — when this popped into my line of view:


Addendums like this are generally stuck onto the front of sponsor guidance when something really important and really urgent is going on. Like the introduction of the Immigration Skills Charge in 2017 (shown below).

But the latest one doesn’t follow suit. Why did this need said in an addendum? And why now?

In terms of its actual content, I am not surprised to see the inclusion of terrorist-related activities as a ground for compliance action. In one form or another, there has always been scope to take action against sponsors on this basis.

I am struggling with the statement about refusing to licence a sponsor, or taking action against an existing sponsor, that has discriminated against people due to their “gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, race, religious belief (including lack of belief), or any other protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010”.

Such behaviour definitely needs to be tackled. But does this mean that the Home Office would, say, revoke the licence of a FTSE 100 company that appears on the front page of the Financial Times having lost a sizeable discrimination claim because a manager forgot the Christmas party wasn’t a university disco? The questions about this are endless and I’m hoping the Business Helpdesk is ready for the swarm of enquiries coming its way.

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Nichola Carter

Nichola heads the immigration team at Carter Thomas (www.carterthomas.co.uk). A lawyer with 20 years' experience, she also sits on The Law Society’s Immigration Committee. Nichola's main work relates to advising businesses, universities and schools on sponsor applications and compliance, and individuals seeking to come under the Global Talent, family and other routes . She regularly provides media comment including for the BBC and FT and is happy to be contacted for comment. Nichola tweets from @carternichola and her email is ncarter@carterthomas.co.uk.


2 Responses

  1. This is very consistent with current politics today – trying to wipe out peoples “views” by shouting they are racist or discriminate against gender / anti Trump and anti British sovereignty etc…