Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for Tier 2, 4 and 5 sponsors

As a Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsor, it is imperative to stay updated on procedures which may impact you. If you are currently sponsoring someone affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), you must ensure you are acting in accordance to the latest legislations.

Here’s what you need to know.

(Updated as of 05 August 2020)

If your student or employee is absent:

  • Enforcement action will not be taken against sponsors who continue to sponsor students/employees despite absences due to coronavirus – absences related to coronavirus do not need to be reported
  • Sponsorship will not be withdrawn because of coronavirus
  • Sponsorship will not be withdrawn if student is unable to attend for more than 60 days / employee is absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks

This will be kept under continuous review.

If you’re sponsoring a student who is distance learning:

  • Tier 4 students whether in the UK or another country can be sponsored if they are continuing their studies through distance learning
  • You can also start sponsoring new students who will start studying through distance or blended learning in the 2020-2021 academic year, provided you intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as it is possible to do so
  • If a student defers or permanently withdraws from their studies for reasons unrelated to coronavirus, this must be reported as usual
  • You do not need to withdraw sponsorship for new students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but are distance learning because they have been unable to travel to the UK.
  • New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but want to start a course by distance learning do not require sponsorship under Tier 4. This is because they do not need to travel to the UK.
  • This distance learning concession will be in place for the duration of the 2020-21 academic year. The concession will be subject to regular monitoring to ensure it is working as intended, and it will be subject to review at the end of the 2020-21 academic year

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 CoSor CAS may have changed. We will not automatically refuse such cases

If you’re sponsoring a student who’s waiting for their Tier 4 visa application to be decided

You may allow students to start their studies before their visa application has been decided if:

  • you are a Tier 4 sponsor (other than Tier 4 Legacy Sponsors)
  • you have assigned the student a CAS
  • the student submitted their application before their current visa expired and has shown you evidence of this
  • the course they start is the same as the one listed on their CAS
  • the student has a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme(ATAS) certificate if required
  • Reporting responsibilities commence from the date you issue the CAS

If you’re sponsoring employees who are working from home

  • If sponsored employees are working from home due to coronavirus, the Home office does not need to be notified
  • Other changes must be reported as usual

If you’re sponsoring an employee who’s waiting for their Tier 2 or 5 visa application to be decided

You may allow employees to start work before their visa application has been decided if:

  • you have assigned them a CoS
  • the employee submitted their application before their current visa expired
  • the role they are employed in is the same as the one on their CoS
  • Reporting responsibilities commence from the date you have assigned them a CoS

If you cannot pay the salaries of sponsored employees because you’ve temporarily reduced or ceased trading

  • You can temporarily reduce the pay of your sponsored employees to 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower
  • Any reductions must be part of a company-wide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated the same
  • These reductions must be temporary, and the employee’s pay must return to at least previous levels once these arrangements have ended

Scanned documents

  • You can submit scanned documents as evidence due to the exceptional circumstances of coronavirus. We may write to you to request original or certified documents. Your application will be refused if you do not send us the evidence or documents we ask for and do not contact us to agree an extension within the given time limit.
  • On-site visits have been suspended due to coronavirus. If we need to visit, we will not decide the application until we are in receipt of the compliance visit report.
  • These arrangements will apply until 30 June, when they will be reviewed.

Please be advised that the above information is not an exhaustive list as there are more requirements and points to consider when making an application

For more information on Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), send an email to info@compasslaw.org.uk or contact us on 01204 531 535 to book a telephone/Skype consultation. The fee is £30.

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