Virginia, US

Employers often assist their employees in the process of obtaining visas that will allow them to live and work in the UK. The relevant visa category is typically Tier 2 if this involves company sponsorship. It is important that all of the corporate requirements are met when applying for a Tier 2 visa, as well as the strict requirements placed on the individual and their personal circumstances.

Meeting the requirements for personal circumstances can often prove problematic and it is important for companies to be aware that in some cases this can result in visa applications being refused. For example, have you ever had an employee who overstayed the length of their UK visa, or who has previous convictions for driving without a licence? Perhaps you have encountered an employee who failed to disclose important information when applying to enter the UK?

Grounds for refusal

Visa applications can be refused on the basis of character, conduct, behaviour or associations, even if the employee satisfies all other requirements to enter the UK.

There are several general grounds for refusal which can be applied to any visa application. These grounds are relevant whether it is an initial application to enter the UK, a request to extend a current visa, an application to remain permanently in the UK or an application for variation. An employee may have committed an offending act yesterday or several years previously, perhaps even prior to submitting an application. There is also no guarantee a ground for refusal will not be called into question, even if previous applications have been successfully filed.

Government departments working together

We often receive queries from new clients seeking assistance after their employees’ initial applications have been refused. In our experience we have noticed that government departments are now working more closely together and are willing to compare information provided by applicants. This is particularly true of the Home Office and the UK tax authorities, the HMRC. Whilst a tax return, for example, is not a mandatory document for certain types of applications, a previously submitted incorrect return might still have an adverse effect on a future application. This is because the individual’s character may be called into question.

There is scope for government departments to cross reference information. A government caseworker may check the visa application details against information the applicant previously provided to HMRC, when reviewing a submitted application and assessing an applicant’s self employment earnings. If these figures do not match, the caseworker may ask why.

UKVI caseworkers can exercise their discretion when considering an application. They may not necessarily accept the provided information and documentation on face value alone, even if all the application requirements appear to have been met in the first instance. The UKVI will be making subjective decisions on an applicant’s character and conduct, when reviewing previous documents and information received from other government departments.

Importance of accurate applications

Whilst it may sound obvious, it is vitally important for both employers and employees to properly prepare before an application is submitted. Given the potential impact, we champion the need to provide correct and full information at all stages of an application, in order to provide the best opportunity for success.