Tier 2 and 5 sponsor licence – Home Office audits

There are 29,655 sponsor licence holder organisations. Each sponsor is required to comply with the Home Office sponsorship duties and obligations: record keeping, compliance with the law, genuine vacancy, reporting and cooperation with the Home Office. Non-compliance with sponsorship duties can lead to sponsor licence suspension and/or licence revocation.

Prior to granting the licence and/or during the licence validity, the Home Office can make an announced or an unannounced visit to sponsor’s business premises to conduct compliance checks. Please note that if your sponsored migrants work on your clients sites, the Home Office can visit these sites to conduct their audit there.

During the visit the Home Office officer(s) will want to:

  • speak to the Key Personnel for the licence (Authorising Officer, Key Contact, Level 1 user);
  • speak to sponsored worker(s);
  • speak to other staff as required (including your clients organisation when sponsored migrants work on client sites);
  • see HR/personnel records (documents) and HR policies.

During a pre-licence assessment visit the Home Office checks the following:

  • the potential sponsor has the necessary human resource (HR) systems in place to make sure that, if they are licensed, they will be able to carry out their sponsor duties;
  • the number of migrants they want to sponsor is appropriate to the size and nature of the organisation;
  • whether there is any evidence that suggests the potential sponsor would pose a threat to immigration control;
  • any areas of concern that Sponsor Operations have identified as requiring further inspection relating to the potential sponsor’s application, for example, verifying the original documents they failed to submit with their application;
  • if the potential sponsor has applied for Tier 2, that they will genuinely be able to offer employment that meets the Tier 2 requirements at the correct skill and pay level.

During a post-licence visit the Home Office checks the following:

  • the sponsor’s HR systems to ensure they are meeting their sponsor duties;
  • whether the sponsor or the sponsor’s activities pose a threat to immigration control;
  • whether the original number of certificates of sponsorship (COS) requested on the sponsor application or annual request is still justified;
  • whether migrants working or studying with the sponsor are complying with the conditions of their leave to stay in the UK;
  • whether the sponsor continues to have a trading presence;
  • whether sponsored Tier 2 or 5 migrants were recruited to fill genuine vacancies which meet the requirements of the relevant immigration route in respect of skill level and pay all aspects of the tasking referral.

During an audit the Home Office officer will want to see:

  • Spreadsheet listing all sponsored migrant workers employed by the sponsor organisation;
  • Evidence of the right to use the business premises (e.g. lease or licence agreement for the business premises);
  • Evidence of the right to work checks carried out (all employees, not only the migrants are subject to these checks);
  • Evidence that the sponsor has system in place to track immigration permits expiry dates;
  • Employment Contracts and detailed job descriptions for sponsored migrant workers;
  • HR policies (e.g. annual leave, sick leave, other absence policies, right to work checks);
  • Records of sponsored migrants change of address and contact details being tracked (history of home addresses, landline and mobile numbers must be kept);
  • Records of the migrants absences, which may be kept electronically or manually;
  • Evidence of the labour market test conducted for the roles (when the labour market test is required);
  • Evidence of the salaries paid to sponsored migrant workers;
  • Evidence of qualifications and/or professional registrations if required for the role or if stated in the job advert for the role;
  • If you recruit under the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) and/or Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Creative and Sporting categories in the sports sector, you must keep a copy of the governing body endorsement and any other document set out in the relevant code of practice.;
  • Evidence of DBS criminal record certificates if required for the role;
  • Other evidence depending on the sponsor organisation and the job role.

Tips for Sponsors:

  • Ensure that your organisation complies with all the laws in England and Wales (i.e. employment, tax etc., not only immigration rules);
  • Train your Key Personnel, Managers and sponsored workers on immigration compliance duties;
  • Ensure that you have the relevant HR policies in place;
  • Cooperate with the Home Office;
  • Ensure that you conduct the right to work checks and keep the relevant records;
  • Ensure that you have a system in place to track migrant workers immigration permits and that they are tracked correctly;
  • Ensure that the job roles offered to sponsored migrants are highly  skilled and genuinely required;
  • Ensure that your HR records are kept up to date;
  • Ensure that your sponsored migrants work in the job role stated on their certificate of sponsorship (COS) and they are paid the salary stated on the COS;
  • Ensure that changes in sponsored workers work location, salary, job duties etc. are reported to the Home Office promptly;
  • Ensure that changes of your business address, your corporate structure, your ownership, your Key Personnel etc. are reported to the Home Office promptly;
  • Ensure that you keep a history of the sponsored migrants contact details (UK residential address, telephone number and mobile telephone number). This must be updated regularly.
  • Ensure that you keep records of sponsored migrants absences;
  • Conduct mock audits;
  • Seek professional legal advice from an experienced immigration lawyer.

The information contained in the article reflects legal position on 5th April 2019 and is for general information purposes only and does not aim to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. We accept no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Carter Lemon Camerons immigration team. The specialist team at Carter Lemon Camerons Solicitors can assist you with all immigration and business-related matters. Our years of expertise in these areas mean that we can provide tailored solutions for you. For more details, please contact our immigration team at immigration@cartercamerons.com or +44 (0)20 7406 1000.