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UK Domestic worker visa: in-country extensions and national minimum wage

08 June 2010

Many private employers and their domestic workers may be baffled by the complex procedures and equally concerned about the possibility of being subject to penalties for past breaches when it comes to apply for an extension under this immigration category or for a change of employment.

The UK Border Agency has also introduced tougher measures for immigration offences and, as the case of Baroness Scotland in late 2009 goes to show, no one is above the law, even those who have set the pace of changes in the Immigration Rules. As a result, there are hefty fines to be paid by private employers even when they were unaware and more significantly they had no intention to breach the Rules.  However, a defence which remains available to private employers as well as UK companies is the verification and retention of copies of those documents provided by their domestic workers or any other employees in their service used as evidence of their ability to work and remain lawfully in the UK.

It is important to point out that there is no current amnesty for domestic workers who have overstayed their leave to enter and remain in the UK. However, there are different strategies to deal with a poor immigration history depending on the individual circumstances. When applying for an extension, a domestic worker will need to be in full time employment and thus, be employed a minimum of 7 hours per day, 5 days a week. The domestic worker will also need to be paid minimum wage. The Direct Government's website states that with effect from 1 October 2009, the national minimum wage adult rate (paid to workers aged 22 and over) amounts to £5.80 per hour.

To make a successful extension application, the employer will need to provide an up-to-date contract of employment outlining the main conditions of employment including duties, rate of pay and hours of work. In addition, it’s advisable to provide pay slips and original bank statements as evidence of earnings. The UK Border Agency website also lists as required evidence a letter from the employer confirming that they want to continue employing the domestic helper and they will comply with UK law on the national minimum wage.

In case of an initial application (or entry clearance), the UK employer will not be able to employ someone as a domestic worker unless that person has worked for one year or more immediately prior to the application for an entry clearance under the same roof as his employer or in a household that the employer uses on a regular basis and where there is evidence that there is a connection between the employer and the employee.

A  domestic worker is allowed to change employer while she/he is in the United Kingdom, however at the time of submission they must still be employed as a domestic worker. The UK Border Agency must be notified in writing since otherwise the applicant might not be allowed to change to a different type of employment.

The UK Border Agency introduced mandatory biometric appointments for this category. Thus, pending the successful outcome of the application, the domestic worker will be issued with an Identity Card for Foreign Nationals (ICFN).

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Migra & Co is a private immigration company, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), reference number F200900038. This website is not a government website and as such, we are not linked or affiliated with the UK Visas and Immigration. We offer expert legal advice and flexible tailored solutions to both private and corporate clients to ensure that their immigration needs are met. If you wish to download or prepare a UK visa application form, you can do so free of charge by visiting the Official UKVI website.