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Immigration: Sponsor Licence application and compliance

Under the post-Brexit immigration system, employers must apply to the Home Office to be granted a sponsor licence before they can employ foreign nationals. European and non-European nationals are now treated equally and don’t have the automatic right to work in the UK.

Employers who don’t have a sponsorship licence are unable to hire foreign workers or extend visas of current sponsored employees.

Foreign workers will also have to establish their eligibility through a Certificate of Sponsorship and score the relevant points to apply for the appropriate visa.

Why apply for a Sponsor Licence?

Employers should consider applying for a sponsorship licence to ensure the seamless recruitment process of talented individuals from abroad. There’s now a myriad of complex immigration rules which, combined with the Home Office processing times, requires careful consideration and planning.

The Home Office guidance states that sponsorship is a privilege not a right. Therefore, under the sponsorship system, employers who benefit directly from migration by employing overseas nationals should comply with certain duties.

Licence applications require careful preparation, sometimes well beyond the production of the required documentation. Failure to accurately complete the application process for the appropriate licence to sponsor and/or visa means that applications may be rejected which results in a loss of time and money.

In addition, employing a migrant worker illegally could result in fines of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker and criminal prosecutions. Furthermore, the UKVI may restrict the employer from recruiting migrant workers indefinitely.

How we can help

We will:

  • Identify the best options and solutions offered under the existing immigration routes
  • Assess whether your business or organisation can meet the requirements of a specific route
  • Assess whether a prospective employee will be likely to score the requisite points to be able to obtain a visa
  • Complete and assist with the preparation and submission of the sponsor licence application, review the application and supporting documentation
  • Advise on sponsor licence applications for businesses that have never traded within the UK and don’t have a UK-based representative
  • Review or assist you to set up compliant HR procedures to meet the requirements
  • Prepare made to measure training for your key personnel
  • Help you navigate and manage the Sponsor Management System

Upon successful grant of the sponsor licence application, we can also:

  • Support you in obtaining Certificates of Sponsorship to enable the prospective employees to obtain their visa
  • Advise on the content of the visa application as well as the visa application process
  • Advise on your obligations to the UKVI in order to maintain your licence and employ migrant workers

Sponsor duties and compliance

Once an organisation obtains a sponsor licence, they must comply with duties and responsibilities set out by the UKVI.

Sponsors should ensure that the personnel responsible for the maintenance of the licence regularly reviews the latest guidance to make sure that the organisation is up to date with its compliance and necessary actions are taken regarding sponsored workers.

Failure to comply with the duties set out by the Home Office can lead to suspension or revocation of the sponsor licence meaning employment of sponsored workers must cease.

Sponsor guidance and duties

The UKVI has delegated many of the functions that were previously undertaken by immigration officers to sponsors and the aim of the sponsor duties is to ensure that sponsors play their part to:

  • Prevent abuse of the sponsor assessment procedures;
  • Capture patterns of migrant behaviour that cause concern; and
  • Monitor migrant workers compliance with the immigration rules.

In addition of carrying out compliant right to work checks, sponsors are required to comply with specific duties such as:

  • Monitoring a sponsored worker’s attendance and absences;
  • Reporting changes to the sponsored worker’s employment;
  • Retaining specific documents set out in the guidance; and
  • Cooperating with the UKVI and complying with the law.

Compliance visits

Immigration officers may make announced or unannounced visits to carry out a compliance audit. During this visit, the UKVI will determine if the sponsor is carrying out its duties, as well as if the employment of sponsored workers is genuine and reflects the requirements of the immigration rules. Non-compliance can lead to the revocation of a sponsor licence, civil penalties of up to £20,000 per illegal worker and damage to reputation.

How we can help

We can provide guidance and advice in relation to sponsor duties and work with you to ensure your organisation’s HR procedures are sufficiently robust. We can design tailored training sessions to equip your key personnel with the right tools to meet the requirements.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your situation and how we can assist.

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