Sponsorship License: Duties and Compliance For Employers

Duties and compliance responsibilities for employers sponsoring workers to come to the UK.

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Your application has been approved and you are now a registered sponsor licence holder, on the Home Office’s approved list of sponsors. In deciding to grant your application, the Home Office places significant trust in you and your organisation, to ensure that you comply with immigration law and wider UK law.

To achieve these aims, all licensed sponsors must fulfil certain duties. Some of these duties apply to all sponsors, whilst others are specific to those licensed under certain routes. The objectives of these duties include, but are not limited to:

  • preventing abuse of immigration laws and sponsorship arrangements;
  • capturing early any patterns of behaviour that may cause concern;
  • addressing possible weaknesses in process which can cause those patterns;
  • monitoring compliance with the Immigration Rules, all parts of the Worker and Temporary Worker sponsor guidance, and wider UK law (such as employment law);
  • ensuring sponsors do not behave in a way that is detrimental to the wider public good.

Your responsibilities as a sponsor start on the day your licence is granted and will continue until you either surrender the licence or the licence is revoked by the Home Office. To avoid  such measures, you must ensure that you fully understand what are your duties and responsibilities to the Home Office.

Reporting duties

You must report certain changes that affect your sponsored workers or your organisation within the time limits provided by the Home Office.

You must also, as soon as reasonably practicable, tell the Home Office if you know or suspect a worker you are sponsoring has breached their conditions of stay.

For example, if a worker that you have sponsored does not turn up for work and is absent without leave, you must notify the Home Office and confirm whether you intend to continue sponsoring the worker.

Which changes you must report and how to do this, is a very tricky process since the law relating to this area is constantly changing and depending upon the size of your organisation, there may be a few or many changes that must be reported.

Any information you report about a worker’s non-attendance, non-compliance or disappearance may be used to cancel their permission or take enforcement action against them.

Please note also that there are ‘additional duties’ placed upon you if you sponsor offshore workers or have specific types of licences. For example, if you sponsor an overseas qualified nurse or midwife, or if you are sponsoring a UK Expansion Worker.

Our Corporate Immigration experts have the expertise and knowledge to assist with any query you may have in relation to your sponsorship licence. Quite often we are contracted on a retainer service to provide ongoing support and assistance to licence holders.

If this could be useful for you, please do not hesitate to get in touch immediately and request a quote from our in-house Corporate Immigration team.

Record-keeping duties

To ensure that you are compliant with your duties, the Home Office may conduct checks on documents relating to your sponsored workers or the running of your organisation. You must also be aware of your responsibilities under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation.

You must keep certain documents for each worker you sponsor, and depending on the type of document or specific route under which a person is sponsored, these must be kept for a certain period of time. The documents can be kept in paper or electronic form.

Some of the documents you must keep as part of your sponsorship duties may also need to be kept for other purposes and, in some cases, for a longer period than that which required for sponsorship purposes

Any failure to provide the documents, when asked or within a reasonable timeframe, can result in action being taken against you. To avoid sanctions or corrective action being implemented against you, you are strongly advised to consider using our retainer service. 

With this type of bespoke package (our retainer service), we promise to answer any questions you may have, within an agreed time, and to support you and your organisation in remaining compliant throughout the life of your sponsorship licence.

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Complying with immigration laws

To comply with Immigration Law, you must ensure that you are ‘genuine’ in your position as an employer of overseas nationals. This is to avoid potential candidates from ‘circumventing’ the immigration rules and facilitating entry to the UK.

As a part of this duty, you must ensure sponsored workers are appropriately qualified, registered or experienced to do the job you are offering them. For example, if you sponsor a doctor, you must make sure they have the correct registration that allows them to practise legally in the UK.

You must also ensure that you issue the correct type of certificate of sponsorship, depending upon which route the worker is applying under and where they are applying from. Also, you must try and provide an accurate duration of the employment, from the outset.

There are many possibilities in which you can be deemed as being non-compliant with Immigration Laws. For example, not carrying out the appropriate checks, or failing to disclose important information relating to the sponsored worker.

Ultimately, the Home Office must be convinced that you are sponsoring workers to fill ‘genuine vacancies’. A genuine vacancy is one which:

  • requires the jobholder to perform the specific duties and responsibilities for the job and meets all of the requirements of the relevant route;
  • does not include dissimilar and/or predominantly lower-skilled duties;
  • is appropriate to the business in light of its business model, business plan and scale.

Where there are doubts, the Home Office will request additional information and/or evidence from you or the worker, to establish whether the requirement has been met. The Home Office will refuse the worker’s application if the correct or sufficient information is not provided, or it is not provided within the deadline.

Complying with wider UK law

You also have a duty to comply with wider UK law, other than immigration law and this includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • complying with UK employment law, for example National Minimum Wage, Workplace pension schemes and/or Working Time Regulations;
  • complying with illegal working and right-to-rent legislation;
  • holding suitable planning permission, local planning authority consent or any legally required licence registration or approval to run your type of business at your trading address;
  • ensuring you are registered with the appropriate body, where it is a legal requirement in the UK;
  • only employing worker who have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, where this is a requirement for the role;
  • complying with requirements on safeguarding children;
  • not engaging in any criminal activity;
  • not being subject to UK or UN imposed sanctions;
  • paying VAT or other duty penalties.

Behaviour that is not conducive to the public good

The Home Office will not licence organisations whose actions and behaviour are non-conducive to the public good. Such actions and behaviour include but are not limited to:

  • fostering hatred or inter-community division;
  • fomenting, justifying or glorifying terrorism;
  • rejecting the rights of, or discriminating against, other groups or individuals on the basis of their sex, age, disability, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, race, or religion or belief (including lack of belief).

The Home Office will refuse a sponsor licence application or take the appropriate compliance actions if a prospective or existing sponsor is engaging, or has ever engaged, in such behaviour or actions.

To avoid sanctions and remain compliant with all of the duties mentioned above, at all times during the life of your sponsorship licence, you are strongly recommended in using our retainer service.

With this type of bespoke package, we will always be at hand to answer any questions you may have, and we will do so within an agreed time. We will set out in writing, from the outset, what our retainer service includes and what it does not. 

For further support and/or guidance with remaining compliant throughout the life of your sponsorship licence, please contact our Corporate Immigration team today.

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If you would like more advice or to discuss your visa application with one of our UK Visa specialists, you can contact our team of specialists on 0161 843 9000 or complete our enquiry form below.