One of the key requirements under the UK visa sponsorship rules is that the Home Office must be notified of certain changes of circumstances relating to skilled workers.
If you are an employer of a sponsored migrant whose employment details have changed, or if you are working in the UK on a skilled worker visa and there have been changes to your personal details or circumstances, these changes will need to be reported within a specific timeframe. Failure to comply will mean the sponsor and/or the visa holder will be in breach and could face Home Office penalties.
Reporting a skilled worker change of circumstances
When sponsored under the skilled worker route, an individual is permitted only to be employed in the specific capacity stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) with the company who has sponsored their employment in the UK.
The Certificate of Sponsorship outlines the following information:
- Personal details of the migrant
- Place of work
- Role to be undertaken
- Salary, hours of work
- Duties and responsibilities
If any of the above details change, this must be reported to the Home Office within 10 working days. Here, the reporting duties lie with the sponsor and with the migrant worker, who are both responsible for ensuring compliance with all conditions in relation to the migrant’s employment.
Reporting changes via the Sponsor Management System
All sponsors have access to the Sponsor Management System (SMS). This is the Home Office’s online system which allows sponsors to manage their sponsor licence on a day-to-day basis, including reporting any Tier 2 skilled worker changes of circumstances.
A sponsor would be responsible for reporting the following changes to migrants’ circumstances:
- Change in jobs to a different job within the same SOC code
- Change in core duties, but the job is still within the same SOC code and being paid at the appropriate salary
- Increase in salary, this does not include annual salary increases due to annual increments or bonuses
- A change of salary from that stated on the CoS due to maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or a period of long-term sick leave lasting one month or longer
- Change of work address to the one stated on the CoS
- A move under TUPE due to a merger, takeover, de-merger or any other circumstance in which TUPE is warranted
- A migrant does not show up for their first day of work, with the reason for the delay or non-attendance
- Migrants’ employment ends earlier than the date stipulated on the CoS due to termination, resignation or if the project ends earlier. Details of the name and address of the new employer must be included, if known
- Migrant is absent from work for ten consecutive working days without consent, this must be reported within ten working days of the 10th day absent from work
- Changes to regular working patterns, such as to a hybrid working arrangement, which is defined in the Home Office guidance as applying where “the worker will work remotely on a regular and planned basis from their home or another address, such as a work hub space, that is not a client site or an address listed on your licence, in addition to regularly attending one or more of your offices or branches, or a client site”.
Employers must ensure that suitable key personnel are appointed to action and oversee such changes on the SMS.
Employers must also have systems in place to ensure they hold the correct contact details on file for their sponsored workers, and carry out regular checks to ensure this information remains up to date.
Workers’ duty to report changes
All skilled worker visa migrants have a responsibility to report any changes to their personal details or circumstances to their employer and the Home Office as soon as possible.
All migrants are required to report any changes to their details or circumstances as follows:
- Personal details, i.e. name, date of birth, marital status, gender, change in appearance, passport details;
- Change of address, email, and contact number;
- Criminal convictions;
- Representative details; and
- Dependants details, if a dependant ceases to be dependent on the main applicant for any reason, i.e. applies for a new visa in their own right, relationship breaks down. A child who travelled with the main applicant to the UK is no longer living with them.
A change in appearance is required to be reported if the worker is in the UK and holds a BRP card. Changes that would require to be reported would be anything which dramatically changes their appearance due to cosmetic surgery, or a piercing which alters the outline of any of their features. Wearing glasses or small piercings on the nose or eyebrow would not need to be reported.
Evidence of some changes will also be required. This could include:
- Change of name – marriage certificate or deed poll
- Nationality – new passport or certificate of nationality from the issuing government
- Passport details – new passport, police report if the passport was lost or stolen
- Criminal convictions – details of the sentencing would need to be provided in full and any official documents issued
- Contact details – utility bill, new lease
- Dependants – evidence of the dependants new details, i.e. address, new visa, divorce decree. Reasons for why the dependant child is no longer living with the main applicant, this would include if they have moved to university to study
If the migrant’s visa has been endorsed in their passport they must report the changes to the Home Office’s by completing the Change of Circumstance form. There is no fee for submitting change of circumstance form.
If the migrant has been issued with a Biometrics Residence Permit (BRP) Card, they will have to make an application for a new BRP, and pay the relevant fee.
What happens if change of circumstances are not reported on time or at all?
The Home Office can become aware of compliance breaches and failure to notify of changes in a number of ways:
- Anonymous tip-offs from disgruntled employees
- If the migrant worker makes a new immigration application and the incorrect information is identified
- If the organisation is applying to renew its licence and the incorrect information is identified
- The Home Office reserves the right to conduct compliance visits at a sponsor’s premises, where they have powers to inspect all relevant documentation and to interview relevant personnel. Information may come to light during such an inspection.
Failure to report skilled worker changes of circumstances can result in:
- Downgrading of the licence to a B rating – the company can longer sponsor new migrants and they will be issued with an ‘action plan’ to take corrective steps
- Suspension of the licence or revocation – meaning the company can no longer employ migrant workers
- A fine being issued against the employer
In many cases, failure to update the SMS and to report changes is due to an oversight with the sponsor or where the sponsor is not aware of the type of changes that must be reported.
This makes it imperative that as a sponsor, your organisation has robust systems in place to ensure the licence is managed on a day to day basis, with key personnel appointed and trained to understand their duties in ensuring the compliance.
DavidsonMorris’ specialist business immigration team can provide guidance on when and how your organisation needs to report changes of circumstances. As well as providing advice on specific queries, we can also support with enhancing your internal compliance capability by delivering immigration compliance training to key personnel and those with responsibility for immigration compliance. For guidance on meeting your licence compliance duties and avoiding Home Office enforcement action, contact us.
Last updated: 31 March 2o23