Coronavirus: Updated COVID-19 FAQs for employers who are sponsorship licence holders

Can a sponsored worker’s start date be delayed if they are unable to come to the UK?

Ordinarily, a Tier 2 worker’s start date can be delayed by up to 28 days from the date their visa was granted. However, due to travel restrictions currently in place, this may not be possible for many visa holders. The Government guidance has been updated to state: 

If you have issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) or a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) and the sponsored employee or student has not yet applied for a visa

The employee or student will still be able to apply for a visa.

The start date for the course or employment stated on the CoS or CAS may have changed. We will not automatically refuse such cases.

For example, we may accept a CoS or CAS if they have become invalid because the employee or student was unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. We will consider this on a case by case basis.

Can a sponsored worker be placed on furlough?

Yes- the Government have confirmed that sponsored employees are able to be placed on furlough and the scheme is not defined as public funds. Therefore, the condition attached to most visas of not accessing public funds would not be breached. We would advise that you report any sponsored workers who have been placed on the Job Retention Scheme through the SMS as well as any reductions in salary.

In light of the travel restrictions currently in place are visa holders currently in the UK able to extend their visa or switch visa categories?

Yes, on the 22 May 2020 the Government announced here, that visa holders unable to return home due to Coronavirus are able to extend their visa or switch into a different category until the 31 July 2020. 

This will apply to anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January 2020 and cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation. To take advantage of this extension, it will be necessary to complete a form contained in the above announcement.

Has the current crisis had any effect on the UKVI priority service?

The UKVI’s Priority Service is a useful tool used by organisations who are Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsors to expedite change of circumstance requests, such as adding a level 1 user. Using the service expedites the decision on the request from many months, to within 5 working days. Further information regarding the UKVI’s Priority Service can be found here.

Unfortunately, the UKVI priority service is currently not operating in any capacity- telephone or email as a result of the pandemic.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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