On the 17 September 2015 new Statement of Changes were announced making changes to the Domestic Worker visa, illegal working as well as a couple of small helpful changes in relation to the procedure for the monthly allocation of Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorships.
Domestic Workers visa
The Home Office, in recognition of the fact that many Sponsors had not been assigning Certificates to the workers within the three month window, will now allow unused Certificates to be put back in to the system. This in turn will mean an increase in the number of Certificates available for the following months’ allocation period, giving more scope for Sponsors to obtain Certificates. This is an important and welcome change as our clients and Sponsors in general have had difficulties in obtaining Certificates of Sponsorship where the monthly cap/quota set by the Home Office has been regularly filled very quickly.
Furthermore, the Home Office is to introduce smaller salary bands in order to maximise the monthly allocation of places. However, the overall size of the annual limit will remain at 20,700 places per annum and the order of prioritisation will remain unaltered, which still means that lower salaried jobs remain at the bottom of the scoring table. It is therefore important to seek advice as to any issues you might be experiencing in not obtaining Certificate of Sponsorships, or if you require general assistance in ensuring you are meeting the criteria for obtaining and assigning Certificate of Sponsorships.
Further changes are being implemented to crack down on illegal working. Illegal working will be made a criminal offence in its own right and consequently illegal workers could be imposed with a fine and/or a maximum custodial sentence of up to 6 months. This would also mean that any wages paid to illegal workers will be recoverable under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Employers will face tougher penalties for employing illegal workers, as the Bill will also make it an offence to employ workers knowingly, whom they know or ‘have reasonable cause to believe’ is an illegal worker. The maximum custodial sentence on indictment for an offence of employing an illegal worker will also be increased from two years to five years.
Businesses which continue to ignore the law and thrive on employing illegal workers can be forced to close business premises for up to 48 hours. The closure may be cancelled if the employer can demonstrate that they have conducted right to work checks where illegal workers have been identified. Where they cannot demonstrate this, the business would be placed under special compliance requirements as part of monitoring employer’s activities, as directed by the courts.
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