Sponsor Compliance is a major importance within Immigration and with the impact of Brexit even tighter conditions will be imposed on Compliance.
Currently, European nationals are able to live and work within the UK and are not subject to rigorous checks. Employers are also not required to hold a Sponsorship Licence. Post-Brexit depending on the deal the future Government (post 8 June) obtains will determine whether employers would need to monitor their workforce and check they have the legal right to work and whether a Sponsorship Licence would be required.
The Home Office published the document ‘Points Based System: Sponsor Compliance Visits’ on the 19 May 2017. This document itself is very detailed; going over 100 pages.
To hold a Sponsorship the home office has stated it falls down to two fundamental principles. These are:
- those who benefit most directly from migration (that is the employers, education providers or other bodies who are bringing migrants to the UK) must play their part in making sure the system is not abused;
- the Home Office needs to be sure those applying to come to the UK to do a job or study are eligible to do so. On top of that, that there is a reputable employer or education provider genuinely wishing to employ or enrol them.
Duties as a Sponsor:
A sponsor is responsible for fulfilling certain duties from the day their licence is granted until:
- they surrender their licence;
- they let their licence lapse;
- the Home Office revokes their licence.
Their responsibility for a migrant starts on the day they assign a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) or a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) and ends:
- when they notify the Home Office that they are no longer sponsoring the migrant for any reason;
- if the migrant leaves the UK and their entry clearance or leave to remain lapses;
- when the migrant is granted further leave to remain with a different sponsor or in another immigration category;
- if the migrant is a Croatian national.
Simply having interviewed a migrant and taken a copy of his/her passport and visa would not be sufficient. Monitoring migrant employees and ensuring checks are made and Home Office is updated in relation to changes is of great importance.
When an application for a Sponsorship Licence is placed before the Home Office, the team would primarily be assessing the following (before/during or after):
- that a licensed sponsor is meeting their sponsorship obligations;
- that a prospective sponsor has the necessary systems and procedures in place to meet their sponsorship obligations;
- the accuracy of information given on the sponsor licence application;
- whether the sponsor is complying with their obligations to prevent illegal working.
The Home Office assessment will lead to one of the following outcomes:
- the sponsor licence application will be approved or, in the case of an existing sponsor, they will maintain their current licence status;
- refusal of the sponsor licence application or, in the case of an existing sponsor, they may:
- have their allocation of CoS or CAS reduced or removed;
- be downgraded to a B-rating with a time-limited action plan (not possible for Tier 4 sponsors);
- have their licence suspended;
- have their licence revoked.
It is very important to ensure that you have the correct policies and procedures in place to ensure that your application is successful first time round. Obtaining the correct legal advice can sometimes be the difference between acceptance and rejection.
Having obtained a Sponsorship Licence, a Sponsor may be subject to a pre or post application visit. One of the reasons for this visit can be to ensure that the applicant is a genuine trading business. It may be due to Home Office intelligence or maybe there has been previous issues with compliance in the past.
Obtaining advice from a legal representative can assist you in confirming what elements a Home Office Officer would be checking and what you would need to show.
A Home Office Officer carrying out a compliance visit cannot force entry. As an applicant, you have the right to refuse entry. But be aware that when submitting an application, you would be agreeing to such visits and, therefore, denying entry can result in an application for Sponsorship being refused.
If you require assistance with Immigration Sponsorship or Compliance please get in touch with our Immigration Solicitor, who would be happy to advise you of options available to you.