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“No room for artistic licence” in Tier 2 job descriptions


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R (Liral Veget Training And Recruitment Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2018] EWHC 2941 (Admin) was a challenge to the Home Office’s decision to revoke a company’s licence to sponsor non-EU citizens for work visas. It failed.

The case was about the Tier 2 (General) visas issued to four employees of Liral Veget Training. Andrew Thomas QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, gives us a handy cut-out-and-keep summary of this kind of visa:

Two requirements are at the heart of the Tier 2 (General) scheme. The first is that, subject to limited exceptions, the job must be in a skilled occupation. The Guidance specifies that it must be a position at or above Level 6 in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The second is that the job cannot be offered to a migrant worker from outside the EEA unless the employer is unable to fill the job with a worker from the settled labour force.

The Home Office case was that the work done by these four employees was not sufficiently skilled. The roles were described variously as human resources manager, company accountant and business development manager, each with a particular Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) code that meant they could be recruited under Tier 2. In fact, a compliance inspection found, the work done was of a much lower skill level. For example:

The duties undertaken by Mr Okoro did not meet the description for his role as HR manager in the COS, nor was it commensurate with the applicable SOC code (1135). The [Home Office] letter stated:

You have not provided any evidence of the work undertaken by Mr Okoro to date and the duties decribed both by you and by Mr Okoro clearly do not meet the full job description provided by you. Therefore we are not satisfied that the work carried out by Mr Okoro meets the job description given on his COS, or that provided by the codes of practice.

It was considered that his job corresponded to a lower level administrative job (SOC code 4215, personal assistant and other secretaries, which is NQF Level 3).

Andrew Thomas QC summarised the settled legal principles to be applied in cases such as this, where a court is reviewing the Home Office’s decision on sponsor licensing (I won’t regurgitate them here, but see paragraph 39 for a reminder). Applying them, he found that none of the various grounds of irrationality, procedural error, misdirection or irrelevant considerations were made out.

the Court should not lightly interfere with the assessments made by specialist officers who are familiar with the task of job assessments and the application of SOC codes….

As a holder of a Sponsor Licence, the Claimant was required to be scrupulously accurate in the information to be provided in the COS submissions. There was no room for artistic licence whether in the attribution of job titles or otherwise.

Credit where it’s due to the Home Office for a “reasonable and justified” decision, the result of a “fairly conducted” investigation.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.