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Immigration in education

Immigration policy remains at the forefront of political debate as well as the post Brexit immigration system with a movement towards the reduction of net migration. Due to the shortage of qualified teachers in certain subjects such as maths, physics, science (where an element of physics will be taught), computer science and Mandarin, schools are increasingly looking for suitable teaching staff outside of the UK settled workforce.

To hire a migrant worker, schools are required to apply to UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) for a sponsor licence which will allow permission to hire skilled nationals from non-EEA countries (as well as EEA countries under the post Brexit immigration system from January 2021). Historically, community schools have been able to rely on their local authority to be the Sponsor Licence holder, however as more schools convert to academy status, the obligation to hold their own Licence falls on the academy trust. Foundation schools and voluntary aided schools continue to require their own Sponsor Licence.

Once the employer holds the licence, they are required to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for each migrant individual they wish to hire. The migrant then makes their visa application to the UKVI using the CoS and subject to meeting the remainder of the requirements of the Immigration Rules in order to obtain the work visa to be permitted to commence work.

An employer must check an applicant can work in the UK before they employ them and must also conduct follow up checks where specified in the guidance. Failure to do so could leave employers facing a civil penalty if it transpires, they are employing an illegal worker and have not carried out a correct right to work check.

Therefore, even if an organisation already holds a licence, they must ensure that they continue to meet its obligations as a licence holder once the Licence has been approved. The UKVI may undertake an onsite audit to ensure the Licence holder is complying with its obligations.

The UK’s immigration rules are continuously evolving without prior notice, the application process can be time consuming and the responsibility for compliance with onerous obligations has been transferred to the school as the licence holder.

Employing a migrant worker illegally could result in fines of up to £20,000 and criminal prosecutions, as well as the potential for the UKVI to bar a school from recruiting migrant workers indefinitely.

We can help schools and academies navigate the immigration rules and regulations by providing the advice and support needed to maximise your potential to obtain a sponsor licence and a visa that will enable your potential employees work for you in the UK.

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What we do...

  • Sponsor Licences - applications and renewals, and advising on revocations and suspensions.
  • Support with in-country & overseas visa applications under the Points Based System.
  • Advising on alternative routes into the UK - such as visitor, citizenship and permanent residence, UK ancestry.
  • Advising on compliance with the Government’s prevention of illegal working requirements.
  • Providing immigration training - to those who are responsible for compliance with immigration rules and regulations.
  • Reviewing HR systems and recordkeeping - to support with UKVI audits.
  • Advising on other jurisdictions - via our network of carefully selected overseas lawyers.
  • Immigration and employment law experts - we provide our clients with added-value advice on connected HR matters, including the termination of employment of illegal workers, advice on document checking and recruitment.

Recent experience

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