In a post-covid world, more people work on a remote basis than ever before. Despite a push by governments and employers for people to return to the workplace, it seems that remote working is here to stay for a while. But what is the impact of this when it comes to immigration? Specifically, what is the Home Office’s stance on remote or hybrid remote working for a person on a Skilled Worker visa?
Now, you may be forgiven for thinking there is guidance on this matter. However, as of yet, there is no such guidance provided by the Home Office. The closest thing we have to guidance on this question would be that any such remote or hybrid remote work must be updated on the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). To find something which resembles more of an answer to this question, we must start at the beginning; with the sponsor and the purpose of a skilled worker.
The Skilled Worker visa is a route to remedy the situation where the sponsor licence holder requires a position to be filled but cannot find the right person for the job in the UK. As part of the process, foreign nationals are issued Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) so that they can apply for entry clearance/permission to stay as skilled workers to live and work in the UK. However, we must then ask: what does it mean to work in the UK? Again, there is no direct guidance, so we will look to the Workers and Temporary Workers: Guidance for Sponsors Part 1. In particular, L8.5 which deals with conduct compliance checks by the Home Office:
“To assess suitability, we look at whether: we are able to conduct compliance checks on an immediate, unannounced basis to ensure you are complying with your sponsor duties – note that: this includes checks at any physical addresses where your sponsored workers carry out, or would carry out, their employment duties”
It is clear from this guidance that to work in the UK means firstly to work from a physical address from which compliance checks can be made on an immediate and unannounced basis. Although this does not expressly preclude the employee’s home address from being a place where they carry out their employment duties, it would be unlikely that the type of checks mentioned above would be possible from such a place. Furthermore, even if hybrid remote working was permitted, remote working would bring the real risk of the Home Office concluding that if a person can work wholly from home, why do they need to be in the UK at all? This could lead to refusal of their application, or, if already granted, to it being invalidated. Want to know more about Remote Working for Skilled Workers? Reach us.