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Top 10 Questions on Immigration and Remote Workers

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Are you a UK employer or skilled migrant worker interested in understanding the UK immigration rules on the employment of overseas based remote workers?  Our Sponsorship Licence lawyers answer your top 10 questions on immigration and remote workers.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For advice on work visas and sponsor licences call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitorson 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

  1. Does a UK company need a sponsor licence to employ a non-British citizen who will be based overseas?

A UK company may need a sponsor licence to employ a worker who isn’t a British citizen or a settled worker even if the worker is going to be based overseas as a remote worker. It will all depend on the contract of employment. If an employer is contemplating employing a non-UK worker to work from abroad it is best to get specialist immigration legal advice from Sponsorship Licence lawyers, as well as advice on related legal and practical matters.

  1. If a UK company sponsors an employee, then can the employee be based overseas? If so, does the company need to comply with sponsor licence reporting and recording duties in relation to the overseas worker?

A UK employer may be able to allow a sponsored employee to spend some time overseas as a remote worker but it will all depend on individual circumstances. If the worker is sponsored, the employer will still need to comply with their sponsor licence reporting and recording duties in relation to the employee under the company sponsor licence.

  1. If a UK company employs a non-UK national to remotely work from overseas is the worker allowed to come to the UK if the company doesn’t sponsor the worker?

Depending on the nationality of the worker, the employee may be able to come to the UK without needing a visitor visa. However, whether the employee is able to visit the UK with or without first securing a visitor visa, they will only be able to carry out what are referred to as permissible activities. That means the employee can't work in the UK but they can carry out permitted activities, such as attending a training event.

  1. What work activities can an overseas based remote worker do while in the UK on a business visa or visitor visa?

The UK immigration rules specify what amounts to permissible activities under a business visa or visitor visa. An overseas based worker won't be able to carry out their normal work activities if they aren’t a sponsored employee and therefore have no right to work in the UK other than to carry out limited permissible activities. For example, attending a job interview at the company as they are applying for a promotion.

  1. What are the consequences for a UK employer and their sponsor licence of employing a non-UK citizen to work overseas without sponsorship?

If the overseas based remote worker is truly an overseas worker and their contract of employment says their job is to be undertaken from overseas then the employment of the worker should not affect the company sponsor licence unless the company breaches immigration rules in relation to the worker. For example, if the employer asks the employee to come to the UK on a visitor visa and then gets the employee to do their usual remote work in the UK company office rather than remotely from overseas. Breaching immigration rules could result in a Home Office compliance visit and to the suspension or revocation of the sponsor licence.

  1. What are the wider implications for a UK business of employing an overseas worker to work remotely outside the UK?

There are a wide range of potential implications for a UK business employing an overseas worker to work remotely. For example, whether the employee could claim employment law protection in the country where they are working or the health and safety issues of employing a worker where workplace safety can't be checked or where there may be complexities over tax, intellectual property licensing or data protection. With expert legal advice many of these issues are surmountable.

  1. Does a non-UK citizen need a skilled worker visa if they are employed by a UK company but will be working for the company from abroad?

A non-UK citizen may not need a skilled worker visa if their contract of employment with their UK employer says that they are purely employed overseas and so are not being employed by the company to work in the UK. There may be complexities that you need to check out. For example, if you are an Indian national living in France and employed as a remote worker by a UK employer you may need to check whether your immigration status in France allows you to work without being in breach of French immigration rules or you may need to check the tax implications of remote working for a UK company.

  1. Does a non-UK citizen need an intra company transfer visa if they are employed overseas by the UK branch of an international company?

If you are a non-UK citizen employed outside the UK by an international company then you probably won't need an intra company transfer visa unless your employer wants to transfer your employment to the UK. You will then need an intra company transfer visa. Sponsorship Licence lawyers can advise you on the eligibility criteria for an intra company transfer visa.

  1. If a sponsored employee works remotely from overseas will they qualify to settle in the UK under the UK immigration rules?

If your goal is to settle in the UK and apply for indefinite leave to remain and ultimately apply for British citizenshipthen your plans may not be possible if you are sponsored by your UK employer but you are working remotely from overseas. That is because there is a residence requirement that you have to meet to qualify for indefinite leave to remain. The immigration rules say that you can spend some time outside the UK whilst on a skilled worker visa but there are limits if you are going to qualify to settle in the UK under the immigration rules.

  1. Is it a good idea to take up employment as a remote overseas based worker if you want to move to live in the UK?

Whether it is a good idea to take up employment as a remote overseas based worker if you want to move to live in the UK will depend on your circumstances. For example, it may be a good way to start at the company knowing that when a job comes up in the UK you can apply for it as you are aware that the business has a UK Home Office sponsor licence and historically has sponsored overseas workers to come to the UK on intra company transfer visas. Once you are in the UK, you can then switch to a skilled worker visa, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.

Do you have questions about immigration rules and overseas remote working? If so, business immigrationand individual immigration solicitors can advise you on your best options. From a UK employer perspective, Sponsorship Licence lawyers can look at the cost of sponsoring an employee (from the cost of the sponsor licence to certificate of sponsorship allocation, the immigration skills charge and immigration health surcharge)  and compare those costs to the legal and practical issues of employing a non-UK citizen to work remotely from overseas. For individuals, our immigration solicitors can advise on the eligibility criteria for a skilled worker visa or intra company transfer visa and help an employee with their visa application.  

 UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers  

For advice on immigration law call the Sponsorship Licence lawyers and immigration team at OTS Solicitorson 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.