Points Based Immigration System
There are issues of implementation and maintenance which will involve the Colleges, and which will impact upon HoDs and PIs if incorrectly applied.
Recruitment is arranging College presentations: this paper concentrates on the management aspects and challenges for Staff. Separate presentations will be developed for Student related issues.
What is the Points Based System (PBIS)?
The Points Based System is a major shake-up of the immigration system and will replace over 80 existing routes to work and study in the United Kingdom with five tiers.
It means major changes for us as an employer: we need to make changes in HR and in Colleges, so Heads of Schools/RI's/Services and Principal Investigators are affected.
Who does the system apply to?
The Points Based System only covers migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. EU citizens are not affected: some EU countries are in transition arrangements.
How the Points Based System will work
Under the new system, migrants will need to pass a points-based assessment before they are given permission to enter or remain in the United Kingdom. For those not currently in the UK, the application and assessment will be done in their home country.
Existing migrants in the UK will usually be able to convert to the new system whilst remaining in the UK. Eventually all staff on work permits & visas will convert to the new system, but only as the present permits begin to expire or their circumstances change
The system will consist of five tiers. Each tier has different points requirements.
The number of points the migrant needs and the way the points are awarded will depend on the tier they are applying under. Points will be awarded to reflect the migrant's ability, experience, age, qualifications, income and when appropriate the level of need within the sector the migrant will be working.
For more (official) information contact : http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/
What are the tiers?
The points-based system consists of five tiers. These are:
- Tier 1 - Highly skilled workers – now implemented – many Research and teaching roles from level 7 upwards – especially if they have Ph.Ds
- Tier 2 - Skilled workers with a job offer – November 2008 – Usually staff below level 8, especially if without a Ph.D
- Tier 3 - Low skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages – currently suspended
- Tier 4 – Students – April 2009
- Tier 5 - Youth/Mobility and Temporary Workers – November 2009. This will include visiting academics
Successful Tier 1 staff do not need sponsorship from the University, obtain their own permits, can move from job to job without changing their permits, and are not subject to the reporting arrangements listed below. We will seek to maximise the use of this tier.
The role of the University as a Sponsor for staff/Compliance
Migrants applying under any tier except tier 1 will need to be sponsored by the University. The University will issue the migrant with a sponsorship certificate (a virtual document with a unique reference number) which the migrant will then use to obtain entry clearance/leave to remain in the UK. For those not in the UK, they apply in their own country.
When issuing a certificate of sponsorship the University must ensure the job is a genuine vacancy and meets the resident labour market test. The Border & Immigration Agency (BIA) will audit this, and will expect proof that the job has been properly advertised. “Tap on the shoulder” recruitment cannot be used! Even if the person is already in the UK, the job needs to be advertised.
The University will be fully responsible for the actions of any migrant it employs. This is a key new feature, and affects Colleges/Schools/RI's and Services as well as HR. The University must ensure migrants comply with their immigration conditions, by keeping records on each migrant, and reporting any changes to the BIA
Much of this will depend on Schools/RI's/Services developing mechanisms for this.
The university must report the following information or events about sponsored migrants to the UK Border Agency within the time limit given:
- if they do not turn up for their first day at work this must be reported to the UK Border Agency within 10 working days – could be HR who spot this first, or the PI
- if they are absent from work for more than 10 working days, without reasonable granted permission, this must be reported to the UK Border Agency within 10 working days of the tenth day of absence – so we need to be clear about agreement on holidays, attendance at conferences, field work etc. Prolonged sick leave will, in practice, need to be monitored. This has to be first input in Schools/RI's/Services: it also means a clear record of authorised field trips, conference attendance and sick absence recording
- if their contract of employment ends (including when the resign or are dismissed), this must be reported within 10 working days – again Schools/RI's/Services are the first to know
- if the University ceases to sponsor them for any other reason, for example, if they move into another immigration category
- if there are any significant changes in their circumstances, for example, change of job or salary – again, a new feature which affects us – promotions, major new roles in the School/RI/Service
- if the University suspects that they are breaching the conditions of their leave
- if the University suspects they are engaging in terrorism or any other criminal activity this must be reported immediately to the Police and UK Border Agency – a difficult issue
Certificates of sponsorship will only be issued to those who, to the best of the University's knowledge, meet the requirements of the tier or category they are applying under, and who are likely to meet the conditions of their permission to enter or stay in the United Kingdom.
The UK Border Agency may visit at anytime either prearranged or unannounced to ensure the University is complying with the above. So they could call on a School/RI/Service as well as HR!
Registering as a Sponsor
The Department of Human Resources, acting on behalf of the University is currently going through the registration process to become a sponsor for staff (separate from the University’s registration to sponsor students).
When the UK Border Agency issues a licence, they can award an “A” rating or a “B” rating. The rating awarded reflects any track record the University has in employing migrants. Once awarded this rating will be published on the register of sponsors.
HE will be the greatest user of PBIS – especially when students are included. However, the BIA will not allow HEIs an easy ride, and already one Russell group University has been rated ‘B’ – which has some unhelpful consequences.
If awarded an A-rating the UK Border Agency will be content that the University has no evidence of abuse, and has all the necessary systems in place to meet it's duties as a sponsor.
If awarded a B-rating the UK Border Agency will have found previous evidence of abuse, or a visiting officer has found evidence that the correct systems are not in place or not adequate to meet duties as a sponsor. If a B-rating is awarded there will be a restriction put on the amount of migrant workers that the University can employ and the University would be placed under a sponsorship action plan. This would have serious implications on future recruitment exercises.
Human Resources currently expect the University to be awarded an A rating for sponsorship. The SMG needs to ensure we keep our “A” rating.
Downgrading or removal of sponsorship licence
The UK Border Agency may downgrade or withdraw the sponsorship licence from the University.
It should be noted that if the licence was withdrawn from the University not only would we no longer be able to bring in migrant workers outwith Tier 1, all current sponsored migrants would lose their sponsorship and would have to cease employment with the University. This would be catastrophic.
UKBIA has introduced some new Civil and Criminal Penalties:
£10,000 for negligently employing an illegal migrant worker.
Unlimited fine and/or maximum two year prison sentence for knowingly employing an illegal migrant worker.
>>> back to HR homepage