Aston Brooke Solicitors
INTRODUCTION TO ASTON BROOKE SOLICITORS
Aston Brooke is fast moving, innovative and niche firm dedicated to the ethical practice of Corporate Immigration and Civil Litigation Law for the social care sector. We provide a mixture of best practice and commercial advice to clients.
The firm has been established to provide clear, transparent advice to all our clients and we recognise that the firm is only equal to the strengths of its people. Our team of qualified solicitors are ready and willing to provide you with valuable advice.
Our commitment to you is that we will take the time to understand your business and concerns, so that we can develop a longstanding and sustainable relationship and help you develop your business and realise your ambitions.
Understanding exactly what each of our clients uniquely needs and wants lies at the heart of our approach to law. We take a long term view and we take time to understand the distinct demands that each client faces. This allows us to build a bespoke service to suit each relationship.
Our approach means that we are consistent in the standard of excellence we bring to our service and flexible enough to build into each relationship value that is meaningful for each client. We believe that one size does not fit all when it comes to adding value to client relationships.
COMPLETE DETAILS OF OUR COMPREHENSIVE SERVICES
Principals Kashif Majeed and Raman Purewal are lawyers who specialize in immigration and have many years experience in this field, and have a long history of the Philippines and specific immigration/visa needs of OFW's and their families, as well as being in the forefront of campaigning for better terms for care workers
The firm specialises in Immigration Compliance, Sponsor Licensing and Immigration & Compliance Training. This area of work affects all companies who employ overseas staff in their organisations. Our work also includes pre and post licence compliance audits and full assessment of care providers Human Resource records in order to prevent employment of illegal migrants within their organisations.
Changes in Immigration Law
The Points-Based System (PBS) was one of the biggest shake-ups to the immigration system in 45 years. Mr Phil Woolas MP when Minister of State for the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in the previous Labour administration announced that the UK Border Agency would be tightening their reigns over migration to the UK. This ultimately translated into reducing the number of skilled workers recruited outside of the EU.
Everyone is aware that the PBS was introduced for Tier 2 (skilled migrants) on the 27th November 2008.
Tier 2 of the Points Based System is similar to the work permit scheme whereby a job offer is required in order to submit a successful application. Tier 2 is intended to cater to people with qualifications or important work-related experience within a wide range of sectors include healthcare. Tier 2 applicants will require to obtain a certificate of sponsorship, in this case from the sponsoring company, as part of your application. The Tier 2 visa applications are made by the employee similar to the further leave to remain applications.
The sponsoring company can only apply for a certificate if they hold a sponsor license which is issued by the UKBA. You will either receive a pre-compliance audit licence or a post-compliance audit decision. If your organisation has not been audited prior to the issuing of the sponsor licence then there is a strong possibility that you will be targeted.
The UKBA has set up regional 'intelligence units' that are closely monitoring care providers who have been issued sponsor licences. Moreover, the numbers of unannounced compliance and validation checks have increased dramatically. Employers can be faced with a minimum of 10,000 fine for those found to be employing illegal immigrants. It was reported that in the first 80 days of the PBS, 137 businesses were issued with penalty notices worth more than 500,000.
Is your organisation compliant
Care Providers need to be aware that the majority of care staff will fall under Tier 2 of the New Points Based System this will include:
1. Registered Nurses
2. Senior Skilled Carers
3. Registered Managers
A main part of the Governments initiative is the Sponsorship Management Scheme.
The first stage for complying under the PBS will be for care providers to apply for a sponsor license. Any business must register with the UK Border Agency as a sponsor before they can bring foreign workers from outside the EEA into the UK to work; and as a condition of keeping their licence, sponsors will need to alert the UK Border Agency if migrants do not comply with their immigration conditions - for example if they disappear or do not turn up for their job or course. Any sponsor that does not comply with this requirement will risk losing its license.
The application for a sponsor licence will be completed on-line and the supporting documents for your organisation will be forwarded to the Sponsor Licensing Unit who will make a decision within 4 to 6 weeks.
A very small numbers of care providers are aware of their responsibilities under the PBS. Those Employers who have made the move to apply for sponsor licenses are under the impression that once the application has been submitted the work is done. However, this is a misconception. The application for the sponsor licence is the first step towards complying under the PBS.
Many Employers fail to realise that by making the application for a license they are allowing the UK Border Agency to undertake a full compliance audit of their organisations. The compliance audit involves the UKBA completely dissecting Employers HR systems, record keeping and compliance with the Immigration Rules in addition to proving that they have undertaken the necessary checks before employing overseas staff. The UKBA will also have a complete record of your organisations previous interaction with them and highlight any breaches which have been recorded in the past.
The UKBA assess five individual areas of your HR systems which are:
Area 1: Monitoring immigration status and preventing illegal employment
Area 2: Maintaining migrant contact details
Area 3: Recordkeeping
Area 4: Migrant tracking and monitoring
Area 5: Recruitment practices and professional accreditations
Rating and Duration
The UKBA will rate care providers HR systems and compliance from 1 to 3 as follows:
You meet all of the criteria or are fully compliant which results in a "A" rating
You only meet some of the criteria or are partially compliant which results in a "B" rating
You do not meet any of the criteria or are non-compliant.
The duration of the sponsor license is 4 years and then a new application will need to be made.
Application for a Certificate of Sponsorship
The Certificate is a document detailing the applicant who is now referred to as "Migrants" personal details, job title, description, salary and work address.
The Certificate has a three month validity and the Tier 2 application must be made within that specified period.
Existing employers who are now referred to as "sponsors" can only issue a Certificate of Sponsorship. The process involves sponsors applying on UK Border Agency's Sponsorship Management System. The Authorising Officer or the Level 1 user will be permitted to access the system.
Tier 2 Application
The second stage of the application process involves completion of the Tier 2 form. The form is not straight forward and needs to be carefully completed in order to ensure that no errors or omissions are made.
It is very important that Overseas Workers instruct legal representation at this stage. All dependants including spouses and children under the age of 18 need to complete an additional form.
Tier 2 dependents are entitled to work full time and not linked with any employer unlike the Tier 2 main applicant.
Duration and Settlement
Once the Tier 2 for the migrant is granted they will be issued a three year leave to remain visa. The migrant will need to apply for an extension one month before the expiry of the leave to remain and complete 5 years before applying for indefinite leave to remain.
Tier 4 Migrants Employed
Students employed by care providers will need to be mindful of the number of working hours they can work in the UK. The details of working restrictions will be detailed on the accompanying UKBA letter.
Sub-degree level students from April 2010: 10 hours per week
Dependents employment is prohibited
Degree Level Students: 20 hours per week
Dependents can work full time
The Online Immigration Case Management Solution
In order to make the transition to the introduction of Tier 2 and the Sponsor Licence Application more user friendly, Aston Brooke is assisting Care Providers by offering a complete one-stop package comprising of the high-tech on-line case management system
Aston Brooke has developed a bespoke case management system to cater for all the requirements under the PBS.
The case management system helps simplify the data gathering required for the Sponsor Licence Application and allows multiple users to simultaneously process data even from different locations.
The immigration data captured thereafter helps you track and co-ordinate immigration and compliance deadlines and responsibilities, while providing evidence of the due process and documents.
We have provided screen shots of the sponsorship management system which will hold all the necessary tools to ensure that care providers are complying with their duties under Immigration Compliance.
The Online Immigration Case Management Solution
The system contains two limbs. The first is the case management system storing all the data for the sponsor including HR systems, record keeping and compliance. The second limb comprises of the on-line system, which caters for other obligations set by the UKBA for employers and employees. The on-line system will be accessible by employers and employees who are provided with a unique username and password to update records and provide other vital information for the purposes of on-going compliance under the PBS.
A survey of 100 care providers in the UK 90% failed to realise that by making the application for a Licence they are allowing the UK Border Agency to undertake a full compliance audit of their organisations.
The compliance audit involves the UKBA completely dissecting care providers HR systems, record keeping and compliance with the Immigration Rules in addition to proving that they have undertaken the necessary checks before employing overseas staff.
The UKBA will undertake a compliance audit once providers forward their sponsor license applications.
The purpose of the audit is to ensure that sponsors are compliant when employing overseas staff.
The audit will involve a detailed dissection of all your HR data/systems, payroll, status of all overseas staff and private interviews with overseas staff.
Aston Brooke provide a Pre-Compliance Audit to care providers in order to make them fully compliant with the UKBA regulations on employing overseas staff:
Check all HR files for all staff
Highlight all errors discovered and rectify them
Introduce a HR system to suit all employers
Highlight forged visas/passports
The completion of the pre-audit will provide a clear picture to employers on their internal HR procedures sometimes the results are striking.
Failure of Compliance
Employers in the healthcare sector should be aware the onus has been pushed firmly on them to comply with ALL the regulations of the PBS.
Failure of compliance will result in a downgrading of your rating in conjunction with unlimited fines and up to 2 years imprisonment.
If on a compliance audit the UKBA identify breaches the Authorising Officer may be the one facing unlimited fines and/or up to 2 years imprisonment.
BE COMPLIANT...IGNORANCE IS NOT AN EXCUSE
Compliance Training Programmes
Due to tougher enforcement of immigration compliance by the UK Border Agency, businesses must take steps to protect themselves in the event of a compliance audit or immigration/criminal investigation.
Aston Brooke has the right tools to assist you with your corporate immigration compliance training, understanding immigration law, maintaining accurate records, and monitoring migrants under the New Points Based System.
Our Immigration Training Scheme will provide you the best immigration courses but also peace of mind that you will be fully aware of all the latest immigration legislation which affect your business.
Aston Brooke has developed a Training Guide setting out your duties and responsibilities under Immigration Compliance and the new PBS.
It also involves a complete dissection of the Immigration Rules and the Immigration & Asylum Act 1996 and 1999 relating to employers. As you are aware, the onus has been pushed firmly on to Employers (Sponsors) to comply with ALL the regulations of the PBS and failure will result in a downgrading of your Sponsor rating in conjunction with unlimited fines and up to 2 years imprisonment.
Mr K Majeed or Mr R Purewal at Aston Brooke Solicitors, 2 Gayton Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 2XU