Top 5 Areas for Compliance as a Sponsor
We are witnessing a spurt of sponsor licences coming up for renewal, and licences being revoked in certain unfortunate instances. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) are seeing this as an opportunity to make visits to employers’ premises, both pre-arranged and unannounced. Therefore, as an employer you need to ensure that you are complying with your sponsor duties whilst retaining your sponsor licence.
Five areas Employers must show compliance with
The UKVI review the following five areas before granting an organisation an ‘A’ rating or letting them continue as a sponsor. Therefore, it is essential that sponsors fully comply with the below requirements.
Area 1: Monitoring immigration status and preventing illegal employment
- Employers must take photocopies of “Right to Work” documents when an employee joins the company. These documents must be signed and verified as true copies of the originals and retained on their respective hard copy files or uploaded electronically on the company’s HR system.
- Employers must maintain a record of visa expiry dates of all migrant employees either on their HR system or manually e.g. on Outlook calendar with automatic reminders which authorised personnel (the company’s Key Contact, Level 1 and Level 2 users) have access to.
- Each employee must also be required to send an email to the authorised personnel as and when their visa status changes. The authorised personnel must then promptly change these details on the employee’s record and take appropriate action, as necessary.
Area 2: Maintaining migrant contact details
- Employers must either have an HR system to record employee details or maintain a dedicated spreadsheet which the authorised personnel have access to ensure that employees’ contact details (address, home and mobile telephone numbers) are kept up to date.
- Each employee must be required to send an email to the authorised personnel as and when their circumstances change e.g. change of address, home and mobile telephone numbers. This mandatory clause can be put in the employee handbook. The authorised personnel must then promptly change these details on the employee’s record.
Area 3: Record keeping duties
Sponsors must maintain a separate hard copy file or an electronic file for each of their employees with documents as listed below (even if all employees are British or EEA nationals). The documents must be signed and dated with the following words – “Certified that this is a true copy of the original document”.
- Copy of passport – both front and back covers.
- Copies of all UK visas/EEA endorsements and copies of any Home Office letters evidencing leave to remain.
- Up to date contact details e.g. their residential address in the UK, home and mobile telephone numbers in addition to their previous addresses and contact numbers.
- Employment contracts and salary information including evidence of any pay rises, bonuses etc.
- Emergency contact details.
- Copies of National Insurance (NI) cards.
- Any holiday/absence related documents.
- Copies of all relevant qualifications and accreditations.
Area 4: Migrant tracking and monitoring
The UKVI will expect the authorised personnel to be aware that they must report to the UKVI via the Sponsor Management System (SMS) within 10 working days if one of the below occurs: –
- A sponsored migrant does not start his/her employment.
- Is absent from work for more than 10 working days.
- Discontinues or terminates his/her employment.
- The employer stops sponsoring the migrant.
- The sponsored migrant changes their immigration status to another one e.g. Tier 1 visa, spouse visa, Indefinite Leave to Remain.
- Significant change in the migrant’s employment status or the location.
- Migrant is breaching his/her current immigration conditions in the UK.
- The employer has any information that the migrant has engaged in terrorism or other criminal activities.
Employers must record all employee absences either on a SAP system or by manually e.g. maintaining a dedicated excel spreadsheet. They must know if any employee does not turn up for work. The authorised personnel can update the Sponsor Management System (SMS), this will ensure that the UKVI is informed of any changes promptly.
Area 5: Record Keeping
Employers must keep records as follows:
- If the migrant is sponsored for less than one year, documents must be kept for whichever is the longer period i.e. either the duration the migrant is sponsored or until such time a UKVI compliance officer has examined and approved them.
- If the migrant is sponsored for one year or more, documents must be kept for whichever is the longer period i.e. either one year or until a UKVI compliance officer has examined and approved them.
Employers must have a system in place to show to the UKVI that they can track the expiry dates of visas for their current and future employees.
In addition to the above, they must be aware of the following requirements:
- Employers must hire a migrant worker who intends to and can do the specific skilled job which there is a vacancy for.
- The job on offer is at least S/NVQ skill level 6.
- They will carry out the Resident Labour Market Test (advertising), where applicable.
- They will pay a migrant worker at or above the rate stated in the guidance; and in compliance with the relevant code of practice.
Failure to comply with any of the above requirements can have severe repercussions for the company. If the UKVI finds any irregularities, they may decide to revoke the sponsor licence which essentially means that all the migrant employees must leave their employment including any top executives who are migrant themselves. Furthermore, the ‘naming and shaming’ by the UKVI will certainly cause enormous reputational damage. See our previous article on Byron Burgers.
If you require assistance with reviewing your HR processes, or submitting a new or a renewal sponsor licence application, please get in touch with our experienced UK immigration solicitors on +44(0)20 3318 5794 or via email at email@example.com.