This update looks at some key changes to immigration law and practice that have arisen in December 2017 and January 2018.

Sponsors of non-EU migrants should be aware of the following recent changes to immigration law and practice.

New requirement for sponsors to report a change in the size of their business

From 11 January 2018, sponsors are required to report to the Home Office within 10 working days if the size of their business changes from small to large. A ‘small’ business is defined in Section 382 of the Companies Act 2006 as a company that meets two or more of the following requirements:

  • it has a turnover of not more than £10.2 million
  • it has a balance sheet total of not more than £5.1 million
  • it has not more than 50 employees.

Sponsors will need to consider how they monitor the size of their business and who will be responsible for reporting the change to the Level 1 User so that an appropriate report to the Home Office can be made via the Sponsor Management System.

Dependants applying for indefinite leave to remain

To be eligible for indefinite leave to remain, applicants must show that they have not had absences from the UK of more than 180 days per year. This requirement has been extended to dependants, including, for example, spouses, civil partners and other dependant partners.

Read: New ILR residence requirements for dependants

Applications for restricted certificates of sponsorship

The Home Office introduced a monthly cap on the number of restricted certificates of sponsorship back in 2011 in an effort to reduce net migration in the UK. The cap is between 1,000 and 2,200 certificates of sponsorship a month, depending on the month of the year.

In December 2017, a number of employers who requested restricted certificates of sponsorship had their applications refused as the demand for restricted certificates of sponsorship exceeded the number available for the first time since July 2015.

When demand exceeds the cap, applications are determined by a points-system. Points are allocated based on a number of factors, but most significantly the salary payable for the role.

Although the cap has only been reached twice before December 2017, there is a high chance that the cap will be exceeded again in future months as unsuccessful applicants reapply. Employers will therefore need to factor this into their timescales when considering sponsoring individuals from outside of the UK and manage the prospective employee's expectations.