Staying compliant as a sponsor licence holder

7th September 2023

Holding a sponsor licence involves ongoing compliance obligations set by the Home Office in relation to the licence and migrant workers sponsored under the licence. The obligations focus on the reporting requirements to the Home Office as well as maintaining appropriate record keeping.

The Home Office can audit you on a pre-arranged visit, and this is typically the case, but in certain circumstances can visit unannounced to conduct digital compliance checks. It is therefore important to be prepared and compliant at all times. Violations of the requirements may result in a sponsor licence being downgraded or even revoked, as well as associated negative publicity.

There are five general areas of compliance detailed below:

Monitoring Immigration Status and preventing Illegal working

Essentially this area focuses on conducting compliant right to work checks. A sponsor should carry out first day checks in line with Home Office guidance, using one of the below three methods:

  • In person or over video-call, with sight of original documentation as per list A or B of the Home Office checklist; or
  • Use the Home Office online right to work check service and likeness check, where mandatory; or
  • Using Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) using the services of an identity service provider (IDSP) and likeness check

A sponsor then must retain necessary copies of the checks for the relevant time period and track the visa expiry.

Employers are subject to penalties if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that a foreign worker has no right to work in the United Kingdom, or fail to conduct their checks in the appropriate manner.

Maintaining Migrant Contact Details

  • Maintaining full contact details of all migrant workers, including home address, personal phone numbers, personal email and next of kin details
  • Historical records must also be kept of these
  • Ensure robust systems are in place to keep these records up to date

Record Keeping and Recruitment Practices

  • Records are maintained in line with Appendix D guidance
  • Records should include, where applicable:
    • Right to work checks and any follow up right to work checks
    • Certificate of Sponsorship
    • Job description
    • Holiday and absence records
    • Salary history e.g. payslips
    • Employment contracts
    • Evidence to satisfy genuine vacancy requirements
    • Qualifications
    • CV and references
    • Recruitment campaign details e.g. copies of adverts and shortlists

Migrant Tracking and Monitoring

There are triggering events that require notifications that must usually be made within a specific timeframe to ensure compliance.

Notifications to be made within 10 working days of the event:

  • Individual does not commence work within the 28 days requirement
  • Migrants job title or job duties change (you should consult legal advice on the changes as substantial changes may trigger a new visa application)
  • Migrant’s salary is reduced
  • Work location changes
  • Offshore workers who do not pass immigration control and must report arrival date and departure date
  • Employment ends e.g. termination or individual changes employers
  • Change of visa status e.g. moves to a new unsponsored visa category or obtains ILR
  • Migrant leaves due to company restructure e.g. a TUPE transfer
  • Unpaid leave or absent from work for more than 10 consecutive days

Notifications if there are company changes to be made within 20 working days

  • Company corporate structure changes such as mergers, de-mergers, acquisitions or divestitures (and these can trigger new sponsor licence applications depending on the event)
  • Change in name of organisation
  • Workers transfer to your organisation as a result of TUPE
  • Change in organisation size

General Compliance Duties and Recruitment and Accreditation 

  • Sponsor Management System Access
    • Ensuring the list of those with access to the licence is up to date and that there is always 1 employee from the business with access
    • Log in details should never be shared and a sponsor should log into the SMS at least once a month
  • Ensuring migrants hold the requisite professional accreditations, where applicable

How we can help 

We can review processes and procedures and create tailored guidance and strategies to ensure full compliance with the relevant requirements and obligations. Furthermore we can conduct mock audits of your systems akin to those run by the Home Office which will test your company’s ability to pass any official audit. Each mock audit can be accompanied by a report detailing the results and issuing recommendations for areas of improvement.