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If an employee has a time limit on their right to live and work in the UK, a follow up check must be completed at the point where the individual's permission to live and work in the UK expires.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) can often take several months to process visa renewal applications. Provided the employee has submitted the application before their current visa expired (known as an 'in-time application'), they can remain in the UK until UKVI has determined their application on the basis of their previous permission, even after it has expired. This is in line with Section 118 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

The Compliance Team receives a regular report which alerts them to any employees whose right to work in the UK is due to expire in the next three months. The Compliance Team will in turn remind departments/institutions of individual members of staff affected. The individual's line manger must meet with the individual as soon as possible to discuss their intentions (i.e. will they be extending their visa, applying for a different type of visa or will they be leaving the University).

University procedure

If the individual will be extending their visa or applying for a different type of visa, the Compliance Team follow a three step process. This is designed to ensure full compliance with legislative requirements whilst providing a seamless transition which will allow the employee to continue working for the University without any interruptions or delays. The process is summarised as follows:

Step One - Evidence of visa renewal

The first stage requires the employee to provide evidence of having made a new visa application. The table below sets out which documentation the Compliance Team will accept as evidence of an application having been lodged:

Standard online/postal applications

 

The Compliance Team will require a copy of the online application, (or the paper application, if applicable), signed and dated, and a postal receipt confirming proof of postage of your supporting documents.

The Compliance Team can also accept UKVI visa acknowledgment letters on a case-by-case basis.

 

Priority Service applications (Tier 2 only)

 

The Compliance Team will require EITHER:

A copy of the visa application and a postal receipt confirming proof of postage.

OR

The e-mail from UKVI confirming receipt of application.

Premium Service applications:

 

The Compliance Team require EITHER:

A copy of the online application, signed and dated and the automatically-generated e-mail confirmation from UKVI which confirms receipt of application

OR

An e-mail from UKVI which confirms the in-person appointment date.

Step Two - ECS check

Following receipt by the Compliance Team of the appropriate evidence (as above), the Compliance Team are then required to undertake a check with the Home Office Employer Checking Service (ECS) which provides the University with a limited 'statutory excuse' to employee the individual whilst the visa application is pending.

The ECS check is completed by the HR Compliance Team and should not be undertaken by departments/institutions. Under Data Protection legislation, in order to request an ECS check, the Compliance Team must request written authorisation from the individual, which is requested via a letter sent to the indivdual 3 months before their visa expires.

Upon receipt of both this letter and the visa application evidence an ECS check will be completed.

  • In the event that the ECS check is positive, our statutory excuse to employee the individual will last for a further six months. During this period, the Compliance Team must obtain a verified copy of the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which confirms the individual's visa application was successful and that they have the ongoing right to work in the UK. See step three below.
  • In the event that the ECS check is negative, which may be the result of the individual having had their visa application refused, our 'statutory excuse' to employee the indivudal will terminate. In those circumstances the Compliance Team will contact the department and the relevant HR Schools Team to discuss what action needs to be taken. This could lead to dismissal of the individual on the grounds that they have no right to work in the UK.

Step Three - Receiving the BRP

Once the visa application has been approved by UKVI, the individual will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Once the employee has received their BRP, they must bring the original to their departmental administrator, who must then take a verified copy in line with the requirements as set out in the Completing the Check section. The copy must then be sent to the Compliance Team to update the employee's records.

UKVI has set the following service standards for in-country visa applications. These include all visa applications under the Points-Based system (PBS), all applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and applications for limited leave to remain (LTR) such as a Family of a Settled Person visa:

 

Standard Postal Service

Premium Service

PBS*

8 weeks

Same day

ILR

6 months

Same day

LTR

8 weeks

Same day

* If the individual is applying for a Tier 2 visa through the Premium Priority Service, the service standard is 10 working days.

Source: UKVI Service Standards

If the Compliance Team has not received the BRP after the above service standards have elapsed, departments/institution will be asked to chase the individual for the result of their visa application.

Managing invalid visa applications

The Compliance Team must be informed of an invalid application so that right to work can be monitored

On occasion, members of staff find themselves in situations where they submit a visa application in-time, only to have it returned due to a problem outside of their control, such as payment being incorrectly processed.

Under rules introduced in November 2014, visa applicants served with a notice of invalidity may be given the opportunity to rectify the error or omission to the application. In such cases, the Home Office decision-maker will write to the individual concerned and allow 10 working days to correct the application. This means that, provided the amended application and/ or any requested information is returned within 10 days, it will be treated as an in-time application. The individual will therefore be allowed to continue working whilst the application is being considered.

Managing visas refusals and appeals

In the event that a current member of staff has their visa refused, you must inform the Compliance Team immediately.

The individual's ability to continue working for the University following a visa expiry will depend if their current right to work is still valid or has expired, or if they have the right of appeal against the refusal.

Should this situation arise with any member of staff, the Compliance Team must be notified and will initiate the 'Managing visa expiries, refusals and appeals process.' This is a detailed procedure which contains template letters designed for use depending on the staff member's right to work status.