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Specialist immigration firm uComply shortlisted for an EMEA region innovation award

The Forum was founded by former Ernst & Young Partner Brian Friedman it’s a global organisation helping companies to understand how to best manage employees who are globally mobile and its annual awards are split by geographic region.

uComply is a boutique immigration compliance firm based in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Its flagship software products – uAuthenticate and uSponsor – were developed to protect UK businesses, public sector bodies and charitable organisations against employing illegal workers, falling victim to identity fraud and assisting companies with the compliance and management of employees under immigration control.

The risks of failing to meet Home Office guidelines

UK Home Office guidelines for employment change at least twice a year and are notoriously complex. It’s hard enough for large companies to keep firmly on top of the latest rules and their own workforce for small and mid-sized businesses it’s all but impossible to manage in-house. Meanwhile, access to immigration expertise can be impractical on a day to day basis and can become prohibitively expensive. HR departments seldom have the time or capacity to employ immigration specialist staff. Shortcuts on identity authentication are commonplace, but the punishments for falling foul of the latest changes can be severe. Organisations face severe reputational damage and financial loss, fines of up to &pound20,000 per illegal and even custodial sentences.

The reality is that verifying ID and Right to Work documents isn’t always easy for experts, let alone managers and HR departments. Tracking foreign workers’ immigration statuses, visa expiry dates and so forth is a time-consuming responsibility that’s sometimes shared by multiple databases and software applications. To turn a challenge into a minefield, every employer must be able to show every member of staff’s up-to-date, regulation-compliant work status within 15 minutes if the UK Border Agency pays one of its surprise visits.

1 in 20 workers could be illegal

A number of surveys have estimated that as many as 1 in 20 workers in the UK today may be working illegally, immigration non-compliance is a serious risk not just to individual businesses, but to the British economy. At the larger end of the scale, the NHS is one of the world’s biggest employers. Around 40% of NHS nurses are foreign nationals. There’s a huge cost and time burden associated with tracking right to work documentation for such a large immigrant workforce. Other industries, notably construction, face similar challenges.Some sectors employ foreign workers under UK’s immigration control, engineering, science, pharmaceutical, biochemical and public sector health to name a few. Many firms have discovered these specialist skills are not readily available in the European member states and need to locate staff from the global talent pool. The main path to obtaining these staff is to be authorised by the Home Office as an approved sponsor and to bring them in under various Tiers (e.g. Tier 2, Tier 5 and Inter-Company Transfers).

uAuthenticate accurately recognises and authenticates more than 2,900 forms of global identity documentation in just seconds. It standardises authentication procedures and provides an employer with a Statutory Excuse and allows that data to be  exported into any HR system.  uSponsor allows companies to use just one system throughout the organisation for immigration control.  It provides a complete audit trail of any employee changes and alerts HR to any upcoming events, such as visa expiry or any other reportable change of circumstance. It also means immediate access to all workers’ documentation in the event of a UKVI inspection. Both uAuthenticate and uSponsor automatically update to keep fully abreast of all UK immigration laws and guidelines.

It was these two products that the Forum evaluated to shortlist uComply for the Most Innovative Use of Technology in Global Mobility award.

uComply founder Kim-Marie Freeston, a former RGN and business owner with 25 years in the recruitment industry behind her, commented on the news: “It’s good to be recognised by the global mobility community for our solutions. Businesses and HR departments face an uphill task keeping abreast of UK immigration law. Our products level the ground ahead and save a vast amount of time, even for small businesses. If we’re lucky enough to win our EMMA, we hope that our message will reach an even wider audience, to protect more British businesses from making the simple mistakes that could cost them their livelihood.”

The winner will be announced on Friday 7 November.

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