The Home Office is currently rolling out the issuance of National Insurance (NI) numbers for all applicants applying to enter the UK under the Tier 2 General, Minister of Religion or Sportsperson categories. Once an application under these categories has been submitted overseas, this triggers an application to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for an NI number to be issued. This NI number is then included on the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). At least that is what is supposed to happen.

Temporary problems with the issuance of BRPs

Whilst this new process is being rolled out, we have experienced teething problems. Some BRPs have been issued without an NI number and are being recalled by the Home Office so that it can be reissued with one. This of course presents practical difficulties for those Tier 2 migrants who may need to travel or where Sponsors have already submitted an application for an NI number.

Here are a few practical points to bear in mind:

  • If possible, the BRP should be returned to the Home Office within the validity of the 30 day travel visa, which all Tier 2 migrants receive when applying for entry clearance, so that your Tier 2 migrants can still travel using the visa prior to its expiry
  • If the BRP is returned to the Home Office as close as possible to the beginning of the 30 day period of the travel visa, this will provide the most flexibility for migrants. The Home Office should be informed of the expiry date of the 30 day visa
  • When returning the BRP, the Home Office should also be notified of any impending travel to ensure the replacement BRP is issued prior to the travel date
  • Sponsors should ensure they carry out the first day check on the BRP before returning it to the Home Office, so they can maintain their statutory excuse under the illegal working rules
  • If Sponsors have already applied for an NI number, they should inform the Home Office of this when returning the BRP to avoid duplication

What about employees who are paid overseas and have no NI liability in the UK?

It is often the case that Tier 2 migrants receive their salary from their home country and therefore would not be liable to pay NI in the UK. Whilst this is more common with those migrants entering the UK under the Tier 2 Intra-company transfer category, it may sometimes be the case for Tier 2 General migrants also. This begs the question as to why these migrants are being issued with NI numbers. The Home Office has confirmed that the allocation of an NI number has no impact on NI liability and therefore Sponsors should not be concerned about this new development.