Nursery, primary and secondary school teachers applying for Tier 2 visas outside the UK will need to provide criminal record certificates in support of their applications from 6th April 2017.
Certificates need to be obtained from any country in which the sponsored worker and any adult family members who are accompanying them have resided for 12 months or more in the 10 years prior to their application. The criminal record certificate (or certificates) will need to be obtained before the visa application is submitted so applications may be held up if there is a delay in the issue of the certificates.
The requirement applies where the worker is being sponsored under a specified occupation code, which includes 'secondary education teaching professionals', 'primary and nursery education teaching professionals', 'special needs education teaching professionals', 'senior professionals of educational establishments' (which might include head teachers) and 'teaching and other educational professionals not elsewhere classified' (eg. education consultants, music teachers, nursery managers, private tutors and TEFL tutors). The full list of affected occupation codes can be found in the Home Office's guidance on conducting criminal records checks.
This guidance states that an applicant applying for a visa as a Tier 2 migrant will be informed by their sponsor whether they will be required to provide a criminal record certificate, but it is unclear whether sponsors themselves will be reminded of this requirement after issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship in one of the specified occupation codes. Further details of how this requirement will be implemented are expected in due course.
As part of their safer recruitment obligations, schools are required to carry out overseas checks where appropriate on applicants who have lived, or are living outside of the UK. This can include a criminal records check in any countries in which the applicant has lived. Where a school appoints an individual it is sponsoring under Tier 2, it may be able to accept the overseas criminal records check obtained during the visa application process to satisfy the requirement to carry out appropriate overseas checks. This new requirement in respect of visas therefore has the inadvertent effect of helping schools to meet their safer recruitment obligations when recruiting staff from overseas.
This change comes on top of other recent and forthcoming changes to Tier 2 which include an increase to the minimum salary to £30,000 and the introduction of an Immigration Skills Charge, which will require sponsors to pay an additional £1,000 per year per sponsored migrant. Sponsoring employers therefore need to be aware of these changes and take them into consideration when planning their sponsorship activity.