We have noted an increase in the number of compliance audits undertaken by the UKBA relating to tier 2 sponsors where they have highlighted issues on lack of / incorrect reporting. We therefore recommend that sponsors review as a matter of urgency whether they have been reporting migrant activity in line with the sponsor guidance. The relevant requirements are set out at paragraph 473 of the guidance for tier 2 and tier 5 sponsors and at paragraph 461 of the guidance for tier 4 sponsors.
Tier 2 and tier 5 sponsors may have noticed that the drop down options for reporting migrant activity on the Sponsor Management System (SMS) have been amended to include:
- migrant leave or visa application delayed;
- no migrant leave or visa application submitted; and
- migrant leave or visa refused.
Tier 4 sponsors
The UKBA has confirmed that it hopes to bring in changes to the SMS for tier 4 sponsors to include further drop down options for reporting in April 2012.
We have received a number of enquires from our tier 4 sponsor clients as to whether CAS refused in-country (i.e. where the student is applying to extend their stay) should also be reported as 'failed to enrol'. We have put this to the UKBA which has advised that where a CAS has been issued and the leave to remain application has been refused in-country, this can be reported either as 'failed to enrol' or as 'significant change in circumstances' with full details given in the free text box. We recommend using the latter option in relation to in-country refusals where the student is a continuing student, already enrolled with the institution.
In relation to tier 4 sponsors we have seen instances where HTS applications have been refused due to incorrect reporting / failure to report. Where HTS applications are made under the new criteria and are refused outright (not a near miss) the UKBA state that this will lead to the revocation of the licence. Where the application is made under the old HTS criteria (pre-September 2011), sponsors will be permitted to re-apply after six months.
It is important that sponsors have a record of the 'journey' for each CAS that they have issued because in the event of an HTS refusal, it becomes essential to be able to provide the UKBA with information that they may not have or may have an incorrect record of.