Our Tier 2 team has recently been dealing with a number of queries from sponsors relating to cases where migrants' visas have been delayed. The process of hiring a migrant worker or extending a migrant worker's leave often moves quickly. In the rush, employers sometimes forget to address one or more key points which, if not addressed, can result in significant delays to the UK visa application process.

To help employers avoid these pitfalls, we have highlighted some key areas which employers need to remember. These include:

  • English language requirements
  • TB testing
  • Criminal convictions
  • Police registration

English language requirements

Many immigration routes, including Tier 2 (General), require that a migrant has at least an intermediate knowledge of the English language. Under the Points-Based System, applicants often meet the English language requirements by either:

  • being a national of one of 16 majority English speaking countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA;
  • having a degree which was taught in English – this can usually be confirmed by using UK Visas & Immigration's Points-Based Calculator; or
  • passing an approved English language test.

For those applicants who will have to sit an English language test, this should be done as soon as possible as often a test must be booked well in advance; moreover, in some countries, there are limited test centres and test dates. Additionally, employers should factor in how long a test provider takes to publish test results.

Following recent events concerning Educational Testing Service (ETS) and migrants who have taken ETS English language tests, sponsors should ask migrant employees whether or not they have previously taken an ETS test. Where a migrant worker has previously sat an ETS test, this should be addressed in order to avoid delays or potential application refusals.

TB testing

In general, applicants, who are applying to enter the UK for more than six months from certain countries, are required to undergo screening at an approved clinic in order to confirm that they do not have active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB).

Employers should note that there are limited clinics which can issue TB certificates and that often appointments must be booked well in advance. Therefore, an employer should check UKVI's list early in order to see whether or not an individual will need to undergo TB testing.

Criminal convictions

UKVI requires applicants to disclose all criminal convictions, including traffic offences such as speeding, regardless of when or where they occurred.

In line with this, UKVI has a wide range of powers as to whether it must or should refuse an application based on one or more criminal convictions. UKVI also takes into consideration the nature of the offence(s), the number of offences, and the individual's character, conduct, and associations.

As soon as an employer becomes aware that a (potential) migrant worker's application may be affected by a criminal conviction, legal advice should be sought.

Police registration

For certain nationals, registration with the police in the UK is mandatory, and an individual's entry clearance endorsement or (biometric) residence permit should confirm this.

Firstly, migrants required to register with the police must initially do sowithin seven days of arriving in the UK. Then, once a migrant has obtained a police registration certificate (PRC), the migrant must make sure that he or she retains and keeps the PRC up-to-date.

To keep a PRC updated, a migrant should report to:

  • the migrant's local police station:
    • any change of residential address within seven days of the change; and/or
    • any change of work address or occupation within eight days of the change; and
  • the Overseas Visitors Registration Office (OVRO) in London or a Specified Registration Office (SRO) outside  London a change to:

    • a visa/biometric residence permit within seven days of the change; and
    • name, nationality, passport, or marital status within eight daysof the change.

Employers should make sure that migrant workers' PRCs are up-to-date as a failure to do so may affect application processing times and outcomes. For more information on police registration, please click here.

Planning ahead

Planning ahead is essential to make sure that a UK visa application goes smoothly and is timely. By remembering to address promptly the English language requirement, TB testing, potential criminal convictions, and police registration, this can potentially avoid unnecessary delays.