UK Government

Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency (National): Embargoed until 00:01 16 February 2011 - Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency publishes report on Tier 2 of the points-based system

Press Release   •   Feb 17, 2011 08:47 GMT

The UK Border Agency needs to implement and maintain a consistent approach to decision making and also increase its focus on compliance of the skilled migrant tier (Tier 2) of the points-based system, said John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, publishing his thematic report on Tier 2 of the points-based system (PBS).

The inspection took place between July and August 2010 and focused specifically on the General and Intra-Company Transfer categories of Tier 2, assessing the quality of decisions, compliance and customer service.

The Chief Inspector was concerned to find:

* inconsistent approaches to the decision making process on Tier 2 cases which meant that some applications were refused because of minor omissions of evidence or information whereas others were given additional time to supply the missing information;
* applicants were having to make and pay for subsequent applications because of minor omissions which could have been addressed with minimal effort by the Agency;
* as a result of subsequent applications, the Agency was having to use additional resources to make further assessments and decisions;
* there was no evidence of a systematic approach to ensure that post-licensing visits were carried out on sponsors retrospectively; and
* the Agency did not routinely take the required action to curtail the leave of migrants who had stopped working for their sponsor whilst on a Tier 2 visa.

However, the Chief Inspector was pleased to see that:

* on the whole, the Agency was meeting its performance targets for processing Tier 2 applications;
* there was positive feedback from stakeholders and delivery partners on the good working relationships they had with the UK Border Agency; and
* staff demonstrated professionalism, enthusiasm and commitment.

John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, said:

"The points-based system was introduced to provide greater transparency, consistency and objectivity to decision making on immigration applications. Tier 2 of the points-based system enables skilled workers to come to the United Kingdom to fill gaps in our labour force. Having inspected this important area of the Agency's operations, I have found that the UK Border Agency needs to take action in regards to the decision making and enforcement of Tier 2 in general."

"I strongly believe that an applicant should receive the same level of service wherever they submit their application and I would expect the Agency to implement and uphold a consistent approach worldwide. I was also concerned to find that although mandatory security checks had been made on all Tier 2 sponsors, a significant number had not received a pre-licensing visit from the Agency. I did not find evidence of a systematic approach to ensure that post-licensing visits were carried out on sponsors retrospectively.

"The Agency also needs to ensure it takes action to curtail the leave of migrants under the Tier 2 system who stop working for their sponsor. If people no longer qualify to stay in the UK according to their visa conditions, then they must be required to leave the country."

Notes to Editors:

1. A copy of the full report can be found on the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency's website from 16 February 2011 at www.independent.gov.uk/icinspector/news

2. The Chief Inspector is independent of the UK Border Agency and is required to report annually to the Secretary of State. 

3. The points-based system (PBS) was introduced in 2008. The basis of the PBS is that anyone from outside the European Economic Area who wants to work or study in the UK has to have the right skills and meet the points criteria set out for each of the five tiers. 

4. Tier 2 (Skilled Workers) of the PBS has four categories:

* General - for people coming to the United Kingdom with a job offer to fill a gap that cannot be filled from within the resident labour force. This category is also for applicants coming to fill shortage occupations.
* Intra-Company Transfer - for employees of multi-national companies who are being transferred to a United Kingdom based branch of the same organisation.
* Sportspeople
* Ministers of Religion

Media Enquiries: Trish Macready

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