Points-based migration system makes work for employers

The points-based immigration system has created an overwhelming burden on employers, who are struggling to understand and comply with the rules, an education provider has warned.

Amanda Harris, head of HR at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, said the new law – introduced earlier this year to tighten immigration into the UK – was unclear and had added significantly to her team’s workload.

The new rules, which place the responsibility of organising entry clearance for migrant workers on the employer rather than the government, mean businesses face more administration and significantly higher penalties for failing to comply – up to £10,000 per illegal employee.

But Harris told Personnel Today : “There is a lack of clarity from the Home Office about some of the definitions they use in the new system. It is proving very difficult to get a definitive response because they’re having to interpret the guidance themselves. We’re trying to second-guess what they mean.”

Harris added that education providers, in particular, were struggling with the new system.

“If you run international courses here then of course you need to get entry clearance for the visiting lecturers. But we have to make sure they go home and we have to report them if they don’t. It’s a burden.”

The Home Office will audit the Institute to check it is complying with the new rules later this week. “But we’re being audited at the same time as we’re trying to figure the rules out,” Harris said.

Last month the Home Office published proposals to ensure visiting staff seek sponsorship from a third-party organisation and not from the university where they will be based.

But Universities UK, which represents higher education institutes, warned that the new rules would hit universities’ abilities to attract visiting international staff.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Our Australian-style points-based system replaces over 80 immigration routes with just five tiers. Employers helped us to design the sponsorship system that goes with it and we are confident it strikes the right balance between being user-friendly and providing the control we need.”

Allow time for work permits to be  issued, employers warned

Employers must factor in delays affecting work permit applications to the UK, a legal expert has warned.

The caution comes after singer Liza Minnelli narrowly escaped being sent back to the US on her arrival at Heathrow last month because her work permit suffered processing delays at the UK Border Agency.

“Employers must ensure the application process is complete, and the work permit has been issued to the individual before they enter the UK,” said Nick Hobson, a solicitor at law firm Speechly Bircham.

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