Sponsor’s Duties and Responsibilities
Maintaining records, verifying and retaining specific documentation in specific formats for designated periods, and ensuring their accessibility to UKVI upon request is among the most prevalent areas of immigration compliance vulnerability for Sponsor Licence holders.
Part 1 of the Sponsor Licence Guidance, Appendix D, lists the documents that must be kept for all Sponsored workers employed under the Skilled Worker Visa. These documents may be maintained in either physical or digital form and must be readily accessible to UKVI upon request.
All documents submitted as part of a Sponsorship Licence application must be retained for the duration of the Licence period they cover.
All documents concerning Sponsored workers must be retained for the shorter duration of either one year from the date Sponsorship of the migrant is terminated, or if the migrant is no longer Sponsored by the Sponsor, up until the moment that a compliance officer has inspected and approved them.
These are the following roles that can be appointed for the Sponsor’s Licence:
- Authorising Officer
- Level 1 user
- Key Contact
Current staff members, like those within the HR team, can hold the positions, and regulations must be followed concerning engaging third-party agents. These positions involve specific obligations that the incumbent must comprehend and comply with.
Designated personnel must be identified in the Sponsor license application and their details must be kept on the Sponsor Management System (SMS).
It is mandatory to have the Authorising Officer and at least one Level 1 user in their designated positions at all times. If any Key Personnel leave the organisation and are not replaced in their Licenced role, UKVI may take enforcement action, such as downgrading or revoking the license.
To ensure that all Points-Based System (PBS) workers are being monitored and adhering to their visa conditions, your organisation must have appropriate HR systems and procedures in place to keep track of their attendance, record-keeping and up-to-date contact information.
Cooperating with the Home Office
Sponsors must fully and promptly comply with any requests made by the Home Office for documentation or site inspections. This obligation also encompasses conducting all dealings with the Home Office in a transparent and straightforward manner.
Sponsor Licence holders have an obligation to notify the Home Office about specific activities and changes in circumstances relating to both their migrant workers and the organisation itself. It is crucial to note that there are strict deadlines that must be followed when making these reports
As a Sponsor Licence holder, you must report instances of regular non-attendance, non-compliance or disappearance of migrant workers to the Home Office. In the case of organisational changes, updates must be made to the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) to reflect developments such as changes to contact details. Furthermore, if there has been a significant change such as a merger or acquisition, this must also be reported to the Home Office.
Right to Work
As a Sponsor Licence holder, you have the same obligations as all other employers in preventing illegal working. It is essential to carry out regular right-to-work checks on all prospective and existing employees to avoid any civil penalties for illegal working. You must retain the documents that prove that the appropriate checks have been made on the employee’s immigration status, and that these checks are still being performed. The UKVI will review this information to ensure that your organisation is complying with its record-keeping responsibilities.
That’s correct. All UK employers are required to carry out right to work checks on all employees, regardless of their nationality or immigration status, before employment commences.
It is recommended to verify the work eligibility of all the migrant workers every 12 months starting from their date of employment.
How to Comply with Sponsor Licence duties
1. Take note of when your Sponsorship duties starts and end
Once your Licence is granted, it is your duty to comply with the obligations of a Licenced Sponsor. This responsibility will continue until your Licence is surrendered, made dormant, or revoked. As for each worker, your responsibility begins on the day you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship, and it will end as soon as any of the following events take place (and you have reported the event):
- The employee leaves the UK, and their authorisation for entry expires or lapses.
- Any administrative review or appeal rights have been used up, and the worker’s request for entry clearance or permission is denied or revoked.
- The employee receives authorisation for entry or authorisation to work for a different Sponsor.
- The worker receives settlement or authorisation to continue working on a route without requiring your continued Sponsorship.
- You notify the Home Office that you are no longer the migrant worker’s Sponsor.
2. Make sure you know your Reporting duties
As a Sponsor, you are obligated to update the online Sponsor Management System (SMS) to report certain events within 10 working days. These events include:
- If a Sponsored employee does not show up for work
- If a Sponsored employee is absent without authorisation for more than 10 days straight
- If a Sponsored employee quits working for you;
- When there are significant changes to their employment
- When the company’s size or charitable status changes
- When the worker still works for the same employer but working on a their party premises
- When the employment is impacted by TUPE or another similar protection.
You may have a 20-working-day reporting deadline for some events. These include:
- If the business changes its name
- If all or a portion of the company is sold
- If the business stops operating
- If the company is taken over;
3. Check your record keeping
As a Sponsor of a non-resident workers, it is incumbent upon you to maintain records for each employee. Appendix D enumerates a variety of designated documents that you are required to retain, as well as instructions regarding the duration of their retention. In addition, it is essential that you keep all of the documents that were submitted to support your Sponsor Licence application.
Keeping an up-to-date record of the contact information for every sponsored worker and verifying that Right to Work checks are conducted properly is highly recommended.
4. Remember to comply with the Immigration Rules and the wider UK law
Sponsors are advised to hire only qualified, registered, or experienced workers for the relevant positions and to avoid assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) unless there is a genuine vacancy. It is essential to maintain appropriate records demonstrating that the workers satisfy the job criteria and to monitor the immigration status of every employee to prevent any unauthorised working. It is also important to comply with UK employment laws, including ensuring that the national minimum wage is paid.
It is crucial to remember that Sponsors have a duty to avoid engaging in activities that are not conducive to the public good.
5. Prepare for a Home Office Compliance Visit
It is worth noting that the Home Office may opt to conduct a visit before reaching a decision on a Licence application or carry out compliance checks randomly after the Licence is been approved if they have any reasonable grounds for suspicion.
The Home Office has the authority to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information provided in your Sponsor Licence application. To facilitate this process, it is essential to ensure that the relevant files and records specified in Appendix D of the Sponsor guidance are readily available and accessible. Additionally, the Home Office may cross-check with HMRC to confirm that you are paying your workers fairly, and they may also inspect other workers to ensure that you are fulfilling your obligation to prevent illegal working.
It is important to cooperate with the Home Office and permit their personnel access to any premises or sites that are under your jurisdiction.
6. Understand the consequences of failure to comply
Following are some serious repercussions that could result from violating Sponsor Licence obligations:
For insignificant violations, a Sponsor Licence’s A-rating could be lowered to a B-rating. You will be subject to a time-limited action plan, charged a fee, and prohibited from Sponsoring any additional employees until you have restored your A-rating.
The Home Office may suspend your license while conducting additional investigations if they have reason to suspect that you are failing to uphold your Sponsor obligations.
The Home Office has the right to suspend or revoke your license in light of the situation. The Worker Sponsor Guidance’s Annex C1 outlines the conditions under which your license may be suspended.
Non-compliance with Sponsor’s duties could have repercussions on the immigration status of Sponsored workers, potentially jeopardising their right to remain in the UK. Furthermore, if it is discovered that you have been employing individuals unlawfully, you could be subject to penalties, such as a civil penalty of about £20000 per migrant worker or may face prosecution.
How Can I Avoid Non-Compliance Which could lead to a Sponsorship Licence Downgrade, Suspension, and/or Revocation?
Acquiring a Sponsor Licence can be a demanding yet gratifying process that can allow organisations to hire Skilled professionals from anywhere in the world. As part of the application process, you may have already met with a Home Office compliance officer for a pre-license visit. Once you have obtained your Sponsor Licence, you should frequently anticipate a Home Office compliance visit at any time, without prior notice.
Non-compliance and illegal working are not tolerated, and the consequences can be severe. Non-compliance can lead to the loss of crucial skilled workers and make it difficult to hire skilled workers in the future. Additionally, it can have an adverse impact on your professional reputation. The courts are usually hesitant to overturn Home Office revocations when there has been a clear compliance breach. Judges often stress that a Sponsor Licence is a privilege, not a right, and thus strict adherence to the rules is essential.
Preventing the adverse effects of non-compliance necessitates extensive knowledge and expertise in the rules and regulations concerning Sponsor Licences. MAK25 London has been working with companies from different industries holding a Sponsor’s Licence, and we have the resources and knowledge required to help our clients achieve complete compliance.
What Are Common Reasons Businesses Fail Home Office’s Sponsor Licence Compliance Visits?
For the following reasons, many businesses do not fulfil their Sponsor Licence compliance obligations:
- Proof that the Sponsor Licence Holder is using third parties to hire migrant workers
- Failure to provide all migrant workers with current and past contact information
- Inadequate record-keeping, inadequate documentation, and inadequate worker attendance tracking
- Failing to provide accurate information about migrant workers employment locations or to update their status
- A lack of proof that Resident Labour Market Testing (RLMT) was carried out for positions filled by migrant workers when it was necessary
- Weak procedural support for migrant workers’ leave management.
Holders of Sponsor Licences who are found to be in violation in one or more areas are not entitled to any exceptions. Even if an audit is unannounced, being unprepared is unacceptable. Sponsor Licence holders may experience a lot of stress as a result of this, especially smaller businesses without experienced teams.
Home Office Visit
It is very common for the Home Office to conduct compliance checks by visiting Sponsor’s Licence holders.
The UK government has intensified its scrutiny of businesses that employ non-UK nationals. Consequently, all Sponsor Licence holders are susceptible to unannounced visits from the Home Office at any given time. The number of premises inspections has been steadily increasing as the government strives to identify and eliminate illegal workers while punishing Sponsor Licence holders who fail to meet their compliance obligations.
MAK25 London Expert is dedicated to assisting Sponsor Licence holders in preparing for and attaining full Compliance. Failure to comply with the regulations can result in serious consequences, including the possibility of having your Sponsor Licence downgraded, suspended, or revoked.
We recognise that employers and HR directors are often preoccupied with various tasks, and that is why we are committed to actively helping companies educate/train their staff to keep all HR policies and procedures regarding Home Office compliance up-to-date. By doing so, you can rest assured that if immigration officials conduct an unannounced visit to your organisation, you have nothing to fear and can be confident that your Business and your Licence is in full compliance with all relevant regulations.
How can MAK25 London help you with Sponsorship Licence Compliance duties?
- Inform clients of recent changes to UK Immigration laws
- Perform a compliance audit of your current HR systems and migrant worker files to ensure you have the necessary safeguards to continue to uphold your obligations as a Sponsor.
- Advice on the primary responsibilities given to the Key Personnel
- Advice in the planning of Home Office compliance inspections
- Advice in addressing negative findings from a UKVI audit inspection
- When more Certificates of Sponsorship are needed, request them and give them to the appropriate applicants.
- Completing an annual audit of our client’s files to check for adherence to obligations under the Points Based System, including reporting, recommending changes, and checking new employee procedures.
- Visit our page of Compliance, Auditing & Training Services for more information.
Contact us today to speak with a Specialist Compliance expert about your situation or learn more about Sponsor Licence Compliance, Auditing & Training.
How can we help
We take pride in having one of the Best Immigration Lawyer in the business, one with a wealth of experience and knowledge to handle all manner of UK Corporate & Personal Immigration matters.
Our expert would be delighted to help you out by conducting a mock audit of your HR processes and later assist you in managing your Sponsorship Management System (SMS). This will enable us to determine any potential weaknesses and implement an action plan to fix them before you make your formal application.
We look forward to working with you to make this experience successful!