Since April 06, 2016 there has been an important change in reporting requirements for Tier 2 'skilled workers' to the UK.

The United Kingdom employs a point-based 5 tier visa system for migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to come to the UK to work, study, invest or train.

The system separates applicants into five 'tiers'. In order to be eligible for a visa in any of the five tiers you must pass a points-based assessment. In work visa applications, points are generally awarded according to the applicant's ability, experience and age.  You must reach a points score above a minimum threshold if your application is to be successful. The minimum number of points required varies for each tier.

The five tier visa system consists of the following:

Tier 1: This visa category is for 'high-value migrants' from outside the EEA and covers entry of entrepreneurs, investors, and those very few people who come under the 'exceptional talent' visa.

Tier 2: This category is for 'skilled workers' from outside the EEA with a job offer in the UK. It includes skilled workers who are transferred to the UK by an international company, skilled workers where there is a proven shortage in the UK, ministers of religion and sportspeople.

Tier 3: This category was designed for low-skilled workers filling specific temporary labour shortages. The Government has so far never allocated any visas under this scheme. Unfortunately, this means that you cannot apply for the Tier 3 visa scheme.

Tier 4: This category is for students aged over 16 from outside the EEA who wish to study in the UK. Applicants must have a place at a registered UK educational establishment before they can apply.

Tier 5: This category contains six sub-tiers of temporary worker including creative and sporting, charity, religious workers, and the youth mobility scheme which enables about 55,000 young people every year to work in the UK on working holidays. The visas are awarded to young people from countries that have reciprocal arrangements with the UK.

Earlier, a Tier 2 skilled worker was allowed a 30 day leave of absence or more, over a single period or more than one period during any calendar year (1 January to 31 December).  After this period the UK employer was required to cease to sponsorship of the migrant and report the leave of absence within 10 days of the of the overstay to the UK Home Office.  Now, Tier 2 migrants who wish to take a period of unpaid leave must make sure that the leave period is four weeks or less. The four weeks is calculated according to the migrant's normal working pattern and so for example, if the migrant works three days per week it would be 12 working days.

The only exception is if the absence is due to maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption or long-term sick leave, in which case sponsorship of the Tier 2 migrant may continue throughout the period of the absence.  It is the responsibility of the sponsoring employer to make sure that this new more restrictive standard is adhered to and that they report any overstay promptly to the UK home office.

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