As workers rally for their rights, it is essential for UK visa holders to understand the nuanced impact that their participation in legally organised industrial action may have on their immigration status. Whilst the Home Office acknowledges the right to engage in such actions, the intricate details and potential indirect consequences require careful consideration.
Direct Impact on Pay:
Participating in legally organised industrial action often results in absences from work, leading to a temporary reduction in salary. For Family Route visa holders, this reduction could dip below the financial threshold, which may potentially impact their visa processing. Sponsored workers must also keep in mind that any salary reduction has to be reported to the Home Office, and be prepared to face consequences if such a reduction falls below the job role’s minimum requirement.
Unpaid Leave and Absence Without Permission:
Sponsored workers accumulating 28 days or more of unpaid leave in a calendar year may risk sponsorship termination. Fortunately, industrial action is an exception to this rule, offering some relief to visa holders. However, reporting to the Home Office becomes crucial, necessitating clear communication between employers and sponsors if they are not the same. Absence without permission, typically reported after ten consecutive working days, is complex when it comes to industrial action, as it requires discretion by the sponsor.
Sponsorship and Absence Without Permission:
Sponsors are obligated to report to the Home Office if a sponsored national is absent from work for ten consecutive working days without permission. However, when it comes to industrial action, employers face a unique challenge. Whilst the nature of such action implies absence without permission, the Home Office guidance lacks clarity on the interpretation. Employers must exercise discretion, considering the impact on workers engaged in industrial action.
Impact on Students:
For student visa holders, missing ten consecutive expected ‘contact points’, or disengaging academically, triggers the obligation to notify the Home Office. The difficulty arises in defining ‘contact points’ and the discretion that universities/sponsors have in determining whether industrial action constitutes an authorised reason for absence.
Engaging in industrial action while holding a UK visa introduces complexities into the realm of immigration law. The apparent freedom to participate in strikes is juxtaposed against Home Office policies that may indirectly regulate such actions. Personal visa holders find themselves on equal footing with settled workers, whilst those holding sponsored visas have to navigate additional layers of regulations.
Understanding the intricacies of reporting requirements, financial implications and the discretion exercised by sponsors becomes paramount for visa holders contemplating industrial action. Although the Home Office acknowledges the right to participate in such actions, the practicalities and potential indirect restrictions underscore the need for informed decision-making. Ultimately, the stance, approach and internal policies of employers and sponsors play a pivotal role in the outcome of taking part in industrial strikes.
How Gherson can assist
Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail or, alternatively, follow us on X, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.