In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Government officially opened the application portal for the Job Retention Scheme on 20 April 2020. More commonly known as the furlough scheme, the Government is spending in the region of £30 billion to pay 80% of salaries for employees of organisations impacted by the coronavirus. This allows employers to carry on employing people who would otherwise be asked to leave their job.

If you are either a Tier 2 visa employee or employer, then you will no doubt have several questions regarding this scheme and what it means for you.

If you hold a sponsorship licence and sponsor employees as Tier 2 migrants, then you will undoubtedly have questions on how this new furlough scheme will affect you and your employees.

Under this scheme, you will be able to temporarily reduce the salary of the Tier 2 employee as recorded on their Certificate of Sponsorship to 80% of their regular salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is lower, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and statutory minimum employer pension contributions on the furlough pay. Deductions for income tax, employee National Insurance contributions and other deductions such as Student Loan repayments will still be made.

The Home Office have also stated that any reduction in salary must be part of a companywide policy to avoid redundancies and in which all workers are treated the same. These reductions must be temporary and the employee’s pay must return to the pre-furlough level once these arrangements have come to an end.

You should report any salary changes on the SMS system, even if the change is a temporary measure.

If you are thinking of furloughing Tier 2 visa holders, you will need to:

  • Report salary changes or working hours on the sponsor management system as a change in migrant circumstances.
  • Keep detailed records of the actions that you have taken to avoid redundancies.
  • Informing your furloughed Tier 2 visa holder workers of restrictions that make up their immigration conditions. These cover work, training and volunteering restrictions.

If you are a Tier 2 migrant then please do not worry, the Job Retention Scheme is not considered to be public funds and as such, if you are placed on furlough, you will not be in breach of your conditions of your stay.

If you are affected by the current pandemic and need to take some time off from work, the normal restrictions of four weeks of unpaid leave per year have been lifted. This means that as long as your employer is in agreement, they are not required to withdraw sponsorship should you exceed the four weeks of unpaid leave.

Next steps: How we can help you

Our business partners at Immigration.UK are an SRA regulated solicitors’ firm who can assist you. Please feel free to speak to one of our dedicated immigration experts who can guide you through the process. They will ensure that you understand the process, as well as any future updates and what these could mean for you.

If you are planning on submitting an application for a Tier 2 visa within the next 6 to 12 months, then we strongly advise on beginning the process as soon as possible. This advice is based on the ongoing uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This uncertainty has caused several businesses to reduce or even suspend their services. This means that obtaining the necessary documents to support your application is likely to take longer than usual.

Astons is a leading global immigration advisory firm with offices in London, Beijing, Moscow, Dubai and Limassol (Republic of Cyprus) and offers residency & citizenship investment solutions worldwide including UK, TurkeyVanuatuEU & the Caribbean.

For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation, please contact Astons at [email protected] or call +44 207 292 2977