Sponsorship License: Compliance Checks

Supporting employers with their sponsorship of immigrants to work in the UK.

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The ability to sponsor workers to work in the UK is a privilege that must be earned and therefore the Home Office has a duty to ensure all sponsors discharge their responsibilities, and that a sponsor’s actions (or omissions) do not create a risk to immigration control.

The Home Office will continually monitor sponsors’ compliance and take action against those who:

  • pose, or may pose, a threat to immigration control;
  • breach their sponsorship duties, or otherwise fail to comply with the Immigration Rules;
  • are convicted of criminal offences or issued with certain civil penalties;
  • have engaged or are engaging in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good.

Compliance checks may be taken on the basis of a reasonable suspicion that you have breached your sponsor duties or are otherwise no longer suitable to hold a licence. This may be based on a poor previous record of compliance with the Home Office or other government departments.

Home Office Compliance Checks

The Home Office may conduct a compliance check, which can involve:

  • asking for additional documents or information;
  • verifying documents and information you have provided;
  • visiting you on-site;
  • conducting a digital compliance inspection which involves interviewing you via remote video conferencing facilities;
  • making checks with other government departments, agencies or local authorities;
  • considering any other information or evidence that comes to light.

The Home Office will also make regular checks with HMRC to ensure you are paying your workers appropriately and in line with the Immigration Rules. 

The purpose of these checks is to make sure:

  • the information you have given is accurate and complete;
  • you are able to offer genuine employment;
  • you are genuine and trading or operating lawfully in the UK;
  • there are no reasons to believe you represent a threat to immigration control or that you are engaging or have engaged in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good;
  • you are committed to, and actually are, complying with all the duties of sponsorship.

If the Home Office decides to conduct a compliance check, which involves visiting or interviewing you, this can be on an announced or an unannounced basis. You must cooperate with Home Office staff and allow full access to any premises or sites.

Compliance Checks

Sanctions or corrective action

The Home Office possesses a range of measures to ensure compliance and to identify dishonest, incompetent, or otherwise inappropriate sponsors. Action we may take includes:

  • reducing your certificate of sponsorship allocation;
  • downgrading your licence;
  • suspending your licence;
  • revoking your licence;
  • cancelling the permission of your sponsored workers to remain in the UK;
  • reporting criminal activity to the police or other relevant authorities.

Mock-audit

Since the Home Office has the ability to conduct compliance checks without prior notice, we are quite often requested to conduct mock-audits so that we can advise, recommend or implement for you the necessary processes needed to remain compliant, in advance.

Alternatively, you may have received notice of an upcoming Home Office visit/check and therefore wish to  to ensure that you are compliant with your duties and responsibilities, as well as wider Immigration and UK laws.

The worst case is that you have already been visited by Home Office staff, and they have notified you that additional information is needed, or decided that your licence will be suspended pending further investigation.

In either of the above situations, we strongly recommend that you contact our expert Corporate Immigration team to schedule a mock-audit. This is guaranteed to help you understand your role as a sponsor, ensuring future compliance and remaining prepared for any unexpected future visits.

As part of this process, we will review your current Human Resources functions, interview the necessary staff responsible for your relationship with the Home Office, provide oral and written advice on our findings, and recommend to you practices to ensure future compliance. We also offer short training programmes in this area.

Moreover, if you employ workers illegally, you may be issued with a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker. In such a case, your licence will also be revoked and you will not be eligible for a new licence until at least 12 months have passed since you paid the civil penalty in full. 

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