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What Steps Should an Employer Take to Prevent an Employee Overstaying their Visa?

If your business sponsors overseas workers, you will already understand the importance of ensuring that you adhere to your Home Office sponsorship duties. These duties include keeping records on migrant workers, carrying out right to work checks, only hiring migrant workers with the skills necessary to fill a genuine vacancy, and reporting obligations. Whilst you must ensure that any overseas worker you hire must have the legal right to work in the UK, you must also ensure that they do not overstay their visa. The risk of not checking your employees have a valid visa at all times is that you may be classed as hiring an illegal worker, for which there are significant penalties. In this article, we will explain some of the key steps your business can take to avoid one of your sponsored staff members becoming an overstayer in the UK.

What Are The Penalties For Employing An Illegal Worker?

Even if you do carry out the necessary right to work checks on your overseas staff when they are first hired, there is still the risk that if their visa expires and you continue to employ them, you may be at risk of significant penalties. The right to work guidance issued by the Home Office states, “If you are found to be employing someone illegally, and you have not carried out the prescribed checks, you may face sanctions including:

  • a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker;
  • in serious cases, a criminal conviction carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years
  • and an unlimited fine;
  • closure of the business and a compliance order issued by the court;
  • disqualification as a director;
  • not being able to sponsor migrants;
  • seizure of earnings made as a result of illegal working”

In addition, it is likely that the employee will lose their right to remain in the UK and will be required to leave the UK. The other risk is that any business found to be employing a worker without a legal visa may have their sponsor licensed downgraded, suspended, or revoked. And in the worst-case scenario, if a sponsor licence is revoked, all existing sponsored workers will have their leave cancelled and will be required to leave the UK. As such, any one of these penalties should be a significant deterrent to inadvertently employing a sponsored worker whose visa has expired.

What can I do to ensure overseas workers do not overstay their visa?

The key to ensuring that your overseas workers do not become overstayers is putting in place people, processes, and systems that manage this risk. We recommend taking the following steps:

  • Keep copies of your sponsored worker’s passport, visa page, and biometric residence permit – these should be centrally available and easily accessible to anyone in your organisation who may require them. For this reason, we recommend scanning each of these documents and storing them electronically in a secure manner.
  • Record the expiry date of your sponsored worker’s current visa on your personnel system – a centralised database or personnel management system is ideal for this purpose
  • Nominate key personnel whose role it is to check on the visa status of sponsored workers – this should ensure that if one person is sick or on holiday, another person is available to take over this role.
  • Put in place a diary system to remind your key personnel to follow up with any sponsored workers whose visa is due to expire. We recommend having a diary entry reminder set up for six months, three months, one month, and one week prior to expiry. Alternatively, you may have a task list system within your organisation that can be set up to automatically remind or alert key personnel to make enquiries at set intervals. Two of these follow-ups should be in the form of a face to face meeting to allow you to speak to the individual directly and to see their original documents. At each interval, you should ascertain the intentions of the worker – i.e. whether they intend to extend their visa, switch to another visa, move to another employer, or leave the country. Notes should be kept centrally to ensure that these intentions are visible to all relevant staff. At later intervals, checks should be carried out to ensure that the original intention is still valid and whether they have put in place the necessary actions. It is important to note that your sponsored staff member will not be able to apply to extend their visa until one month before it expires.
  • Where a sponsored member of staff intends to extend their visa, ask them for confirmation that the Home Office has received their application.
  • Where sponsored staff intend to leave your employment at the end of their visa, they should be formally notified that you will no longer employ them after this date.
  • If the member of staff leaves before their certificate of sponsorship expires, update the Home Office Sponsor Management System (SMS) advising them that the member of staff has left your employment early – this needs to be done within 20 days.

The Home Office’s Employer Checking Service

The Home Office provides an employer checking service that employers can use to verify the immigration status of a new or existing member of staff. This can only be used, however, if the member of staff is unable to provide the necessary right to work documents, and/or including where:

  • they cannot show you their documents because of an outstanding appeal, review or application with the Home Office
  • they have an Application Registration Card
  • they have a Certificate of Application that’s less than six months old
  • they’re a Commonwealth citizen who started living in the UK before 1988

Final Words

By taking the time to put in place the necessary people, processes, and systems to ensure that you are never in a position of employing a worker whose visa has expired, you can be confident you are acting in accordance with your Home Office sponsor duties. If you need any assistance with this matter, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to advise you further.

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Reiss Edwards Awards

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Lexis Nexis
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Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge
ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated
Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge

O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija dealt with my case and I found her very professional and experienced in dealing with my application. The care and attention to detail was exceptional. I would definitely recommend Reiss Edwards!".

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into steps that are easy to follow. Cruised to 3 successive wins on my Tier 1 graduate/entrepreneurship visa which allowed us to play our part in making the UK a better and healthier place!".

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

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