ZTE blow as UK.gov suspends Chinese telco's visa scheme

Home Office stepping up inspections of Tier 2 visa sponsors

By Andrew Orlowski

Posted in Networks, 9th March 2017 13:17 GMT

Exclusive The UK has suspended ZTE from the immigration scheme used by foreign companies to allow foreign nationals to work locally, The Register can exclusively reveal.

The Home Office has suspended the Tier 2 visa sponsor license for the Chinese state-owned telecomms giant, the fourth largest supplier of telecommunications equipment in the world.

The Register understands that ZTE had not fulfilled its duties under the Tier 2 scheme, which includes a “robust compliance system”.

Home Office staff have been increasing their inspections of Tier 2 visa scheme sponsors over the past year.

ZTE is absent from the most recent register of Tier 2 sponsors, which is updated daily (pdf).

It is not clear what specific duties the business did not follow, but we understand the Home Office is in discussions about a new Tier 2 sponsor license for ZTE.

The telco kit maker has operated in the UK since 2001. It can continue to trade in the country and hire UK resident staff and EEA workers, as well as non-EEA nationals who already have a visa in the UK.

The US placed ZTE on a list of banned companies in April 2016. Earlier this week it agreed to pay a $1.2bn fine to settle charges of breaking sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

Preliminary financial results for 2016 showed ZTE turned over 100 billion Chinese Yuan (£11.89bn) in sales, up one per cent on the prior year due to a "slight increase" in business with carriers and smartphone consumers.

A Home Office spokesperson told us, "We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”

ZTE said that for "legal reasons, ZTE has no comment at this stage". ®

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