New reporting duties for
an offshore worker
13 April 2023
The Home Office has recently updated the guidance for sponsors to provide more clarity on the reporting duties for sponsors of Workers and Temporary Workers. The latest version of the guidance contains new requirements specific to those businesses that are sponsoring an offshore worker.
The Immigration (Offshore Worker Notification and Exemption from Control (Amendment)) Regulations 2023 impose a new duty, from 12 April 2023, for an offshore worker (or their sponsor, if they have one) to notify the Secretary of State when they arrive in and leave UK waters.
What is an offshore worker?
According to the Home Office guidance for sponsors, a person is an “offshore worker” if they arrive directly in UK waters for the purpose of work without first entering through the UK landmass. Like other workers, an offshore worker must apply for, and be granted, entry clearance or permission before they arrive in UK waters for the purpose of working in those waters.
What are the new requirements?
If you are sponsoring an offshore worker, you must (from 12 April 2023) notify the Home Office of the dates when that worker:
- first arrives in UK waters at the beginning of the job for which they are being sponsored; and
- leaves UK waters at the end of the job for which they are being sponsored.
You must make the relevant notification:
- no earlier than the date the worker arrives in or leaves (whichever is relevant) UK waters
- no later than 10 working days after the date the worker arrives in or leaves (whichever is relevant) UK waters.
How to notify the Home Office
In most instances where a sponsor is required to report an event to the Home Office, they will make the relevant notification using the online Sponsorship Management System (SMS).
However, it is not currently possible to report arrival and departure dates for offshore workers through your SMS account. Instead, you must notify the Home Office by emailing the dedicated offshore worker notification inbox (email@example.com).
You should include the following information in your email:
- your sponsor licence reference number
- the CoS reference number of the offshore worker
- the name, date of birth and nationality of the offshore worker
- the name of the ship or vessel on which the offshore worker will be based
- the date they arrived in, or left, UK waters (as appropriate).
According to the guidance, sponsors are not required to notify the Home Office if an offshore worker temporarily leaves UK waters (for example, to take a holiday or as part of their employment) during a period of valid permission.
However, you must ensure you have correctly notified the Home Office of their initial arrival and eventual departure dates, as set out above. If the worker temporarily leaves UK waters and obtains a new grant of entry clearance before returning to UK waters, you must notify the Home Office of their arrival following the process set out above.
Arrivals on UK landmass
Notification of an offshore worker’s arrival is not required if the worker passes through immigration control on the UK landmass before they arrive in UK waters (but, if you are sponsoring the worker, you must record their date of entry, in line with your record-keeping duties in Appendix D to the sponsor guidance).
Unsponsored offshore workers
If you are employing an offshore worker who does not need to be sponsored, the offshore worker is responsible for notifying the Secretary of State of their dates of arrival and leaving.
Offshore workers without a sponsor should notify the Home Office each time they arrive in and leave UK waters by emailing the offshore worker notification inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The email should include the following information:
- name, date of birth, nationality
- date they arrived in, or left, UK waters (as appropriate)
- activity being undertaken in UK waters
- immigration route which they are arriving in/leaving from UK waters on
- vessel name
The relevant notification must be made:
- no earlier than the date they arrived in or left (whichever is relevant) UK waters
- no later than 10 working days after the date they arrived in or left (whichever is relevant) UK waters
Alternatively, notifications can be made by post to:
Economic Migration Unit
PO Box 3468
Where an unsponsored offshore worker is required to make the notification and fails to do so, the Home Office may cancel their permission and refuse any future application for permission to enter or stay in the UK.
Maintaining sponsor compliance
These new reporting duties for offshore workers must be upheld in addition to the general sponsorship duties required of all sponsors of Workers and Temporary Workers.
Failure to comply with these reporting duties or any other aspect of immigration compliance could lead to your sponsor licence being downgraded, suspended or revoked. More information on sponsor duties and compliance can be found in the guidance for sponsors here.
Smith Stone Walters can provide support and training for employers on maintaining compliance with your sponsorship duties and the UK’s Immigration Rules. To find out more about our services, please contact us today.