Employers' responsibilities

All divisions, departments, faculties and colleges have a responsibility to ensure that every employee and casual worker, and every visitor who holds a visa, however brief the visit, is properly entitled to work in, and/or participate in the activities of, the University.

It is essential that the University complies with the legislation of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, and with the policies and regulations of the Home Office.

The University's compliance with the law will be checked, possibly in unannounced visits, by the Home Office. The consequences of non-compliance are very serious and the penalties that can be imposed are potentially severe. 

Since all University departments and colleges are housed under one Home Office Sponsor License, it would only take a matter of non-compliance from one department or college for the entire Collegiate University to face consequences.

There are several ways in which university and college employees and casual staff may be entitled to work in the UK. These include, amongst others, EEA or Swiss nationals, holders of a Tier 1 (highly skilled worker, exceptional talent, or post-study worker) visa, a dependant visa, a student visa (with certain restrictions), or a UK Ancestry visa. In these cases there are no formal record-keeping or reporting requirements. However, it is essential that departments/colleges are able to satisfy themselves, and the Home Office if required (e.g. by keeping a copy of the passport/visa stamp and biometric ID card where one has been issued to the visa holder), of such individuals’ right to work in the University. 

See the Personnel Services website for information on how to conduct right to work checks.

For un-sponsored visitors who hold visas (e.g. academic, business & PPE visitors) while there are no formal record-keeping or reporting requirements, it is essential that departments/colleges check to ensure that all individuals in these categories have the necessary entitlement to participate in the activities of the University and hold sufficient information (e.g. copy of passport/visa stamp) to be able to demonstrate this to the Home Office if required.

The University’s sponsor licences for Tier 2 (skilled workers with a job offer) and Tier 5 (temporary workers) impose specific record-keeping and reporting responsibilities. These are described below.

Record-keeping responsibilities for sponsors of Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders

All sponsors must keep the following records or documents for Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders, and make them available to officials of the Home Office on request. The University, as sponsor, in turn expects employing divisions, departments, faculties and colleges to ensure its compliance with these requirements. 

Departments and colleges are required to send data on Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsored visa holders to the Staff Immigration Team to be held centrally in an electronic record. However, departments and colleges are also required to keep this data locally for the specified length of time as described below.

Please be aware that the Staff Immigration Team does not hold interview notes or absence data for Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsored visa holders centrally. This data is to be held within the employing department/college.

The following documents and records must be kept for the duration of employment and for a further six months after the University ceases to sponsor the visa holder (either due to the employment ending or due to the visa holder switching to an immigration category not sponsored by the University (e.g. indefinite leave to remain, dependant, EEA family permit).

Please note, however, some Personnel data still needs to be kept longer for other legal reasons, for example right to work and pay data.  Please see the updated guidance on retention periods for university data   http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/recruit/rec_recs/retention/ for more information.

Documents confirming personal information and employment details:

  • copy of passport or UK immigration status document 
  • copy of Biometric Residence Permit or visa showing the visa holder's entitlement to work*
  • copy of the visa holder's National Insurance Number**
  • history of contact details (UK address, telephone number, mobile telephone number). Note that the Home Office expects a history of contact information to be kept, not just the latest contact information. This information must always be kept up to date
  • absence record
  • copy of contract of employment/services between the department/college and the visa holder which clearly shows:
    • the names and signatures of all parties
    • the start and end dates of the contract
    • details of the job or piece of work the visa holder has been contracted to do
    • the salary to be paid
  • detailed job description outlining the duties and responsibilities of the post which must include the skills, qualifications and experience required for the post.

* Please note that with effect from 6 April 2015 the Home Office now require evidence of the date sponsored Tier 2 & Tier 5 visa holders entered the UK to be kept as part of the record-keeping requirements. Normally the vignette (visa in the passport) would be stamped, or the passport page opposite, on entering the UK. In the absence of an entry stamp, however, other evidence such as copies of the ticket for travel to the UK or boarding card should be kept.

** Please note that while a copy of a document evidencing the visa holder's National Insurance Number is not specifically required, the National Insurance number must be entered into CORE (or equivalent HR system for non-CORE users) in order that it is retrievable in the event of a Home Office audit.  Visa holders coming into the UK, who will probably not have a National Insurance number, should be asked to apply for a National Insurance number.

Documents confirming that the Home Office's resident labour market test (advertising requirements) have been met:

  • Where the vacancy was advertised on the web (including on the University of Oxford’s vacancies website), a printout from the website(s) hosting the advert, on the date the vacancy is first advertised, which clearly shows:
    • the name of the website
    • the content of the advert
    • the date of printing
    • the url
    • the closing date for applications.

Please note that if the website clearly shows the date that the vacancy was first advertised, the printout can be taken at any time during the period the vacancy is advertised. Also note that where the printed advert does not quote the University of Oxford as the employer, a copy of a letter from the provider of the host website confirming that the advert was placed on behalf of the University of Oxford will be required.

  • For JobCentre Plus online (referred to as Universal Jobmatch since November 2012) adverts, a printout of the advertisement as it appears on the website must be made on the first day that the advert appears. The printout must show the following:

    • name and logo of the relevant government website hosting the advert *
    • content of the advert
    • vacancy reference number (for Universal Jobmatch vacancies this is the 'Job ID number')
    • date of printing
    • URL (web address)

    * The following are accepted as relevant government websites for jobs advertised using Universal Jobmatch:

    • GOV.UK
    • Direct Gov
    • JobCentre Plus (only for jobs advertised before 19 November 2012)

Please note that if the website clearly shows the date that the vacancy was first advertised, the printout can be taken at any time during the period the vacancy is advertised. Also note that where the printed advert does not quote the University of Oxford as the employer, a copy of a letter from the provider of the host website confirming that the advert was placed on behalf of the University of Oxford will be required.

  • Where the advert was placed in a national newspaper or professional journal, a copy of the job advert as it appeared in the publication which clearly shows:
    • the title of the publication
    • the content of the advert
    • the closing date for applications.

Please note that where the advert does not quote the University of Oxford as the employer, a copy of a letter from the host publication confirming that the advert was placed on behalf of the University of Oxford will be required.

  • Where the recruitment was conducted via a recruitment agency:
    • a copy of the contract between the department/college and the recruitment agency
    • a copy of the invoice
    • copies of any adverts placed - these must clearly show all of the information above (i.e. content of the advert, date of printing, url, closing date).
  • Where a Tier 2 visa is held and the holder is a named researcher on a grant, a copy of the grant application and award naming the visa holder, their start date and starting salary.
  • Where a Tier 5 visa is held, a copy of the funding agreement showing the duration of the visit and funding to be paid.
  • If no resident labour market test was conducted because the visa holder was switching from a Tier 1 Post-Study Worker visa, evidence that they had been working for the University department or college for longer than six months before the date of the visa application and that they were working in the same job on the date they applied for their visa. Evidence may include a contract of employment showing the job title and date employment commenced and payslips. Payslips must be formal payslips or on headed paper. If the payslips are not on headed paper, or they are online payslips, the department/college must provide a signature and stamp on a printout to authenticate the evidence.
  • All applications shortlisted for final interview in the medium in which they were received (e.g. emails, application form, cv).
  • The names and total number of applicants short-listed for final interview.
  • Notes from the final interviews conducted.
  • Documented reasons why each rejected EEA national who attended a final interview was not employed. Reasons must directly relate to the essential selection criteria for the post. The Recruitment decision summary of evidence (58kb) must be used to record this information.

Documents confirming that the visa holder is being paid at the appropriate rate:

  • Copies of the visa holder’s payslips, clearly showing the name, NI number, tax code, and any allowances paid and deductions made. Payslips must be formal payslips or on headed paper. If the payslips are not on headed paper, or they are online payslips, the department/college must provide a signature and stamp on a printout to authenticate the evidence. 
  • Evidence of the amount and frequency of all salary payments made to each visa holder, showing the transfer of each payment into the named visa holder's bank account. Account records must clearly identify the visa holder’s wage in order for the Home Office to assess whether the visa holder is being paid in line with what was originally stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship and within the Home Office's rules.
  • Where the visa holder receives allowances as part of their salary package (e.g. where accommodation is provided), evidence of the value of those allowances is required to be kept unless the contract of employment/payslips clearly shows the value of the allowance.

Documents confirming that the visa holder has achieved the appropriate skill level for the post advertised:

  • Copies of any qualifications the visa holder has been awarded to confirm that they meet the skill level specified in the advert (e.g. Masters, PhD).
  • If the chosen candidate has 'equivalent experience' instead of the requested qualification, and this was listed in Job Description/ Further Particulars as acceptable, copies of job references or other evidence of their experience.
  • Copies of any registration and/or professional accreditation documents the visa holder is required to have been awarded in order to do the job (e.g. where the visa holder is a doctor, proof of registration with the GMC).

Reporting responsibilities for sponsors of Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders

The following information or events must be notified strictly within five working days by departments/colleges to the Staff Immigration Team using the Tier 2 & Tier 5 Changes & Leavers form (271kb)reported to the Home Office by the Staff Immigration Team as necessary. This requirement applies to both Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders.

  • If a sponsored visa holder does not turn up for their first day of work (the start date given on the Certificate of Sponsorship) for any reason.
    Please notify the Staff Immigration Team within five working days of the start date given on the Certificate of Sponsorship and include the reason for non-attendance (e.g. missed flight, visa application still pending). Reasons may include:
    • where the visa holder has not submitted their visa/leave to remain application by the start date given on the Certificate of Sponsorship 
    • where the visa holder has submitted their visa/leave to remain application but they are still awaiting a decision on the application.

PLEASE NOTE: A recent change to the Tier 2 guidance states that if a sponsored Tier 2 visa holder's start date is delayed by more than 4 weeks sponsorship would have to be withdrawn. The start date listed on a Tier 2 CoS can be amended before the visa application is submitted by the individual. After this point the 4 week limit on any delayed start would apply. If you have any cases where a start date may be delayed speak to SIT as early as possible.

  • If a visa holder sponsored under Tier 2 or Tier 5 is absent from work for more than 10 consecutive working days without your permission.
    Please notify the Staff Immigration Team within five working days of the tenth day of unauthorised absence.
  • If a sponsored visa holder’s contract of employment/services or visit is terminated earlier than was indicated on the CoS, for example where the visa holder resigns or is dismissed. Please notify the Staff Immigration Team within five working days of the final date of the visa holder's employment/time on the project.
  • If the University stops sponsoring the visa holder for any other reason.
    Please notify the Staff Immigration Team within five working days of the date that the visa holder's new work visa was issued, or within five working days of the first day of unpaid leave.  Reasons may include:
    • the visa holder has moved into an immigration route that does not require a sponsor (e.g. Tier 1 or settlement)
    • the visa holder has taken a period of unpaid leave in excess of four weeks in total, according to the visa holder's normal working pattern*, during any calendar year (except a period of maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption, or sick leave). A period of unpaid leave in any other circumstances will result in the University having to stop sponsoring the visa holder. In such circumstances, the visa holder will require a new visa before being able to return to work, which for Tier 2 means that the 12 month 'cooling off' period will apply. 
    * For example, if the normal working pattern was 4 days a week, the limit would be 16 days (four work weeks). You should always contact the Staff Immigration Team for advice before agreeing any period of unpaid leave for a visa holder, but particularly if they are working part time as in this example.
  • If there are any significant changes in the sponsored visa holder’s circumstances.
    Please notify the Staff Immigration Team within five working days of the date that the change becomes effective.  Such changes may include:
    • a promotion or change in job title/core duties, other than those which require a new visa (check with the Staff Immigration Team if you are unsure if changes will result in a new visa being required)
    • a change of salary from the level stated on the visa holder’s CoS, other than changes due to annual increments or bonuses
    • a change to the hours of work from that stated on the CoS
    • a change of salary from the level stated on the visa holder’s CoS due to a period of maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or a period long-term sick leave that lasted for one month or longer
    • the location the visa holder is employed at changes
    • if the duration of their contract of employment/services, or their visit is shortened.
  • Any information which suggests that a sponsored visa holder is breaching the conditions of his or her leave.
    Please notify the Staff Immigration Team within five working days of the date that the department becomes aware of such activity.

  • If there are any suspicions that a visa holder is engaging in terrorism or any other criminal activity.
    Please notify the Staff Immigration Team immediately in such circumstances.

The Staff Immigration Team has created a template Sponsored visa holder responsibilities letter (56kb).  This letter should be given to all visa holders who are sponsored by the University on a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa. The letter should be printed on departmental/college headed paper and given to the visa holder to sign and return at induction. The signed copy should be kept on the visa holder's Personnel file.

The letter should also be co-signed by the visa holder’s line manager to ensure that the responsibilities for managing sponsored visa holders as imposed by the Home Office are understood.

Note re. academic staff: The above record-keeping and reporting responsibilities apply to all Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders sponsored by the University, including academic staff. It is recognised that academic staff are normally appointed by divisions and that each Academic Division administers personnel files for academic appointments in slightly different ways. The responsibility to maintain records and report changes in circumstances (job title, duties, salary, work location, hours of work) for sponsored Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders and carry out right to work checks may be assigned differently within different divisions. We recommend, therefore, that departments discuss these issues with their Divisional Office to ensure that practices are consistent within each division, that all parties are clear where responsibility lies for record keeping and reporting changes to the Staff Immigration Team, and that the necessary records are kept in at least one location.