• From 6 April 2017, Tier 2 skilled worker applicants within education and healthcare required to provide overseas Criminal Record Certificate
  • New duty placed on education and healthcare sector employers to inform applicants of requirement

Rules for Overseas Criminal Record Certificates

Currently, individuals applying for entry clearance under the following routes are required to provide an overseas criminal record certificate:

  • Adult dependants (over 18 years old) of the main applicants of Tier 1 visas as above

To comply with UK immigration rules, applicants must provide a criminal record certificate for any country (excluding the UK) where they have resided continuously or cumulatively for 12 months or more, in the 10 years prior to application.

Duty extended to Tier 2 applicants for education, health and social care jobs

From 6 April 2017, the criminal record certificate requirement has been extended to Tier 2 skilled worker applicants in the education, health and social care sectors. When applying for entry clearance, the prospective employee must present a criminal record certificate from any country they have lived in for 12 months or more in the past 10 years.

The requirement also applies to applicants’ adult (over 18 years old) dependants.

The requirement is mandatory to applicants applying under the following Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes:

1181 – Health services and public health managers and directors

1184 – Social services managers and directors

2217 – Medical radiographers

2218 – Podiatrists

2219 – Health professionals not elsewhere classified

2221 – Physiotherapists

2222 – Occupational therapists

2211 – Medical practitioners

2212 – Psychologists

2213 – Pharmacists

2214 – Ophthalmic opticians

2215 – Dental practitioners

2223 – Speech and language therapists

2229 – Therapy professionals not elsewhere classified

2231 – Nurses

2232 – Midwives

2312 – Further education teaching professionals

2314 – Secondary education teaching professionals

2315 – Primary and nursery education teaching professionals

2316 – Special needs education teaching professionals

2317 – Senior professionals of educational establishments

2318 – Education advisers and school inspectors

2319 – Teaching and other educational professionals not elsewhere classified

2442 – Social workers

2443 – Probation officers

2449 – Welfare professionals not elsewhere classified

A new duty for education and health sector employers

Employers within the education and health and social care sectors are now under a statutory duty to inform Tier 2 skilled worker applicants of the need to source and submit overseas criminal record certificates.

Failure to comply could result in a refused visa, creating avoidable issues around staffing levels and requiring resources to resolve.

What is the timeline for implementation?

The requirement applies to all prospective employees in an occupation defined by the relevant Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code (see above):

  • who have been assigned a certificate of sponsorship on or after January 2017; and
  • who will be applying for entry clearance after 6 April 2017.

The extended requirement does not affect visa applications made before April 2017.

When a certificate of sponsorship is issued, the employer must inform the Tier 2 visa applicant whether they will be required to provide an overseas criminal record certificate.

What if applicants are unable to obtain a criminal record certificate? 

From an employers’ perspective, where a prospective employee is unable to produce the required documentation, alternative supporting evidence should be requested such as references, before an offer of employment is made.

For applicants unable to source an overseas criminal record certificate covering the full period required by the visa application, a letter should be submitted as a supporting document to the application.

In the letter, the applicant should detail their efforts to secure a certificate and explain why they have been unable to meet the requirement. This may be due to a country refusing to provide the requested documentation to non-citizens, or in some instances, countries do not operate a criminal record system.

UKVI will make a decision on the application, looking at what attempts have been made to meet the requirement in the context of circumstances within the relevant country. UKVI may decide in favour of the applicant by waiving the requirement, or they may decide the applicant has failed to meet the requirement, and in doing so refuse the visa.

What do employers need to do?

The new requirement is an additional compliance burden on education and health sector employers, and should be accounted for as part of your pre-employment checks.

While the change in April applies to health and education sectors only, the Home Office has stated the requirement remains best practice. It remains to be seen how broadly the Tier 2 requirement could be extended to cover wider market sectors.