As of 6 April, 2017, teachers applying for Tier 2 visas outside of the UK to work for employers with Tier 2 Sponsorship Licences will be subject to criminal record checks as part of their application. Nursery, primary and secondary school teachers will be required to provide criminal record certificates as part of new legislation.
According to reports, workers and any adult families coming to Britain with them, must provide criminal record certificates from all countries they have lived in for 12 months or more in the previous 10 years prior to their application.
The certificate(s) must be obtained before a visa application can be filed and processing could be held up if delays arise in the issuing of certificates.
Affected Tier 2 visa applications
New Home Office guidance notes state that the ‘requirement applies where the worker is being sponsored under a specified occupation code,’ which includes:
- Secondary education teaching professionals
- Primary and nursery education teaching professionals
- Special needs education teaching professionals
- Senior professionals of educational establishments (which might include bursars, head teachers and registrars)
- Teaching and other educational professionals not elsewhere classified' (e.g. education consultants, music teachers, nursery managers, private tutors and TEFL tutors)
A complete list of occupation codes impacted by the requirement changes are listed in the Home Office’s guidance on conducting criminal records checks. The document states that ‘an applicant applying for a visa as a Tier 2 migrant will be informed by their sponsor whether they will be required to provide a criminal record certificate.’
However, there’s no clarity on whether sponsors themselves will receive notice of this requirement following the approval of a Tier 2 Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship in one of the specified occupation codes. It’s understood that additional information regarding how the new procedure will be implemented is forthcoming.
Safer recruitment obligations and UK Visas
Schools are required to conduct overseas checks where appropriate on job applicants who have or are living outside of the UK, as part of their ‘safer recruitment requirements’. These can include a criminal record check in any nation in which a Tier 2 visa applicant has lived.
In the event that a school recruits a worker with a Tier 2 visa, it is possible to accept an overseas criminal record check attained as part of the visa application process, in order to meet the requirement of conducting an appropriate overseas check.
The new legislation applicable to Tier 2 visas means that schools must meet their safer recruitment obligations when hiring staff from outside Britain and the EU.
The addition of criminal record checks is just one of a raft of Tier 2 visa changes that have come into effect, including an increase in the minimum salary threshold, which now stands at £30,000 for experienced workers. Meanwhile, the much maligned Immigration Skills Charge is also in effect adding a further £1,000 per year, per employee for larger employers and £364 per year for smaller employers to the cost of recruiting from overseas.
Tier 2 visa sponsors are being warned to factor in all new legislation when seeking to hire workers outside of Britain.