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UNITED KINGDOM - Stricter Document Retention Rules for Sponsors

Effective immediately, the Home Office has updated its guidance on document retention for sponsors under the Points Based System.

The updated guidance clarifies that sponsors must keep a record of the date their sponsored employees entered the UK. This is particularly significant for Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrants who have entered the UK via ePassport gates or via Ireland.

The main changes clarify how sponsors should check and record the date their sponsored migrants entered the UK, and for how long they should keep all the documents related to the sponsored migrant.

Date of Entry

Sponsors must check and record the date on which their Tier 2 and Tier 5 migrants entered the UK to ensure they travelled during the validity of their entry clearance (visa).

If a migrant entered before the “valid from” date on their visa, they will not have permission to work. In this case, the migrant should be advised to leave the Common Travel Area (UK, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man and Ireland) and re-enter the UK within the validity of their visa.

Normally, a record of date of entry can be created by making a copy of the entry stamp endorsed on the migrant’s visa in their passport by an immigration office on arrival. However, if the migrant entered through Ireland or via ePassport gates, they will not have an entry stamp.

Since May 2019, ePassport gates have been available to migrants from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States entering the UK with a valid entry clearance.

If the migrant does not have an entry stamp in their passport, their sponsor must check and record the date of entry using other evidence, such as travel tickets or a boarding pass, but does not have to retain evidence of the date.

Tier 5 creative and sporting visa concession

If a migrant is eligible to enter the UK without a visa under the Tier 5 creative and sporting visa concession, they must apply for leave to enter before arriving in the UK using the remote preclearance process, and obtain an entry stamp from an immigration officer showing leave to enter and permission to work.

If they use the ePassport gates to enter the UK, they will not have permission to work and must therefore leave the Common Travel Area and seek re-entry to the UK, obtaining an entry stamp from an immigration officer on arrival.

Document Retention Period

The guidance lists other documents which sponsors must keep, and also clarifies that all documents related to a sponsored migrant must be retained throughout the period of sponsorship and until:

one year has passed from the date on which the sponsorship ends, or the date on which a compliance officer has examined and approved the documents, if this is less than one year after the sponsorship ends.

Action Items

  • Sponsors must check and record the entry date of their sponsored employers, either using the entry stamp in their passport (if they have one) or using other evidence such as travel tickets or boarding passes.
  • Migrants who entered before the “valid from” date on their visa, should be advised to leave the Common Travel Area (UK, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man and Ireland) and re-enter the UK within the validity of their visa.
  • Tier 5 creative and sporting migrants should be advised to obtain an entry stamp from an immigration officer on arrival rather than using the ePassport gates.Tier 5 creative and sporting migrants who have entered without obtaining an entry stamp should be advised to leave the Common Travel Area and seek re-entry to the UK, obtaining an entry stamp from an immigration officer on arrival.
  • Sponsors must keep all documents related to a sponsored migrant throughout the period of sponsorship and until either one year has passed from the date on which the sponsorship ends, or the date on which a compliance officer has examined and approved the documents, (if this is less than one year after the sponsorship ends).
  • Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for more specific advice.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2019 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.