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immigration matters in schools and academy trusts

Immigration policy remains at the forefront of political debate, with a movement towards the reduction of net migration. However, given the shortage of qualified teachers, especially in certain subjects (including maths, physics and chemistry), schools are increasingly looking outside Europe for suitable teaching staff.

In order to do so, most schools now have to apply for a Licence to Sponsor and then, when they have obtained this, the intended recruit needs to score the necessary points and apply for the appropriate visa to be permitted to commence work.  In addition, once the Licence has been approved, the Home Office may well make a visit to satisfy itself that the Licence holder is complying with its obligations. Historically, community schools have been able to rely on their local authority to be the Sponsor Licence holder, however as more and 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. 

The UK’s immigration rules are complex and constantly changing. The application process can be time-consuming, and responsibility for compliance with onerous obligations has been transferred from UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) to the school.

If the school or the intended recruit does not accurately complete the application process, the applications will be rejected and valuable time and money will be lost by having to start the process again.  In addition, 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.

Our expert team of lawyers are here to ensure you get it right first time.  We give you the support you need to maximise your chances of obtaining a Licence to Sponsor and a visa that will enable your intended recruit to work for you in the UK. Our experienced immigration team have also developed competitively priced products to help schools and academies navigate the immigration rules and regulations, including our:

what we do...

  • Sponsor Licences - applications and renewals, and advising on revocations and suspensions.
  • Advising on in-country visa applications and applications from abroad under the Points Based System (e.g. skilled workers, intra-company transfers, entrepreneurs, investors, students, sole representatives, charity workers, sportspersons, exceptional talent and exceptional promise, and youth mobility).
  • Advising on alternative routes into the UK - such as visitor visas, indefinite leave to remain, UK ancestry, and obtaining British citizenship.
  • Acting as Key Contact and Level 1 User for the Sponsor Licence.
  • Advising on compliance with the Government’s prevention of illegal working requirements.

  • Providing 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.

what the directories say...

recent experience