Absence Policy for Sponsored Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders

We have a responsibility to record absences for sponsored Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders, to inform the Home Office if they do not attend on the first day, or when they have had 10 consecutive days of unauthorised absence. Sponsored visa holders should report all absences (i.e. annual leave, sickness, paternity, maternity, adoption leave) to their HR lead/administrator immediately. Departments and colleges should contact sponsored Tier 2 & Tier 5 visa holders at least each term to request/confirm recent periods of leave. An Email template for requesting leave (474kb) is available.

To comply with the requirement to monitor unauthorised absence, please follow this guidance below.

Failure to attend on the first day

If a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa holder does not attend work on the first day stated on their Certificate of Sponsorship this should be reported to the Staff Immigration Team immediately using the Changes & Leavers form.

Unauthorised absence

  • An unauthorised absence would occur when a sponsored visa holder fails to attend when attendance is expected and they have not communicated their absence to their department or college. For example: a failure to deliver a timetabled lecture or tutorial, an unexplained absence from a conference or a committee meeting, an unexplained absence from work when attendance would normally be expected.
  • If an unauthorised absence appears to have occurred, the department or college should contact the visa holder immediately to ascertain whether the absence is in fact due to normal work activity, illness or holiday. If an unauthorised absence of 10 consecutive working days or more occurs this should be reported to the Staff Immigration Team within 5 working days of the tenth day of absence using the Changes Form.  
  • If an unauthorised absence of 10 consecutive days occurs but normal working is subsequently resumed, this must still be reported to the Staff Immigration Team using the Changes & Leavers form.

Contact details

Contact details for sponsored Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders must be kept up to date. Departments should also update CORE. Sponsored visa holders must be contactable within a reasonable period of time by email or phone.

Normal work related travel

Normal work related travel, such as attending UK conferences, working from home or work meetings within the UK does not need to be recorded or reported. If the Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa holder is planning a trip where they will be unreachable by phone or e mail they must inform their normal HR contact in department or college before they leave. 

Normal absence reporting (i.e. sickness, annual leave, maternity/paternity leave)

Sponsored visa holders should follow the normal absence reporting procedures for their staff group (Academic, Academic-related or College contracts) for sickness absence and annual leave. Records of absence must be readily available in personal files for audit purposes.

If a Tier 2/ Tier 5 visa holder’s salary/ funding changes as a result of taking Maternity, Paternity, Shared Parental, Adoption, or Sick leave (i.e. a drop to Statutory Maternity Pay, reduced pay whilst on sickleave, or a period of unpaid leave) this must be reported to the Staff Immigration Team using the Changes & Leavers form. The change should be reported within 5 days of the date of the change.

Unpaid leave

Sponsored Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders may not take unpaid leave amounting to more than four weeks in total, according to their normal working pattern*, in a calendar year (Jan-Dec) except in the case of Maternity, Paternity, Shared Parental, Adoption, or Sick leave – please contact the Staff Immigration Team at once if unpaid leave is being considered.

* For example, if the normal working pattern was 4 days a week, the limit would be 16 days (four work weeks).

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) applications

If a visa holder wishes to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) a complete record of all overseas travel during the five year qualifying period will be required. Applicants should ensure that all travel outside the UK both for private and work reasons is recorded (e.g. in an Outlook diary, calendar or a form provided by the HR contact in the department or college).

PLEASE NOTE: with effect from 11 January 2018, the way in which the 'continuous residence' requirement under the standard ILR route is counted has changed significantly. The 'continuous residence' requirement has changed from:

  • no more than 180 days absence from the UK in any consecutive period of 12 months within the five year qualifying period; to
  • no more than 180 days absence from the UK in any period of 12 months within the five year qualifying period

This means that instead of counting the 180 day limit in each of five 12 month blocks counted back from the date of application, the 180 day limit is now counted within any rolling 12 month period during the five years. This is a significant change with retrospective effect which means it is no longer possible to split a longer period of absence across two consecutive 12 month periods.

If an applicant believes that they will be adversely affected by this change in the ‘continuous residence’ rule please advise them to talk to SIT.

 PLEASE ALSO NOTE: with effect from 11 January 2018, dependants applying for ILR must also meet the 'continuous residence' requirement, but only for absences during time spent under visas issued after 11 January 2018.

You should recommend to new Tier 2 visa holders, and those applying to extend under Tier 2, that their dependants should also start to keep a record of all their travel outside the UK in order to meet the 'continuous residence' rule when they come to apply for ILR.

Sabbatical leave

If a sponsored visa holder plans to take a period of paid sabbatical leave please contact the Staff Immigration Team for advice.

Information for sponsored visa holders

Please ensure that these guidelines are communicated regularly to sponsored Tier 2 & Tier 5 visa holders in departments and colleges.