Sponsor Licence Compliance
Once an organisation is granted the Sponsor Licence, significant trust is placed in sponsors, and they must ensure that they comply with all applicable immigration laws and wider UK law and not behave in a manner that is not conducive to the wider public good. To achieve these aims, all licensed sponsors must fulfil specific duties. Some of these duties apply to all sponsors, whilst others are specific to those licensed under certain routes.
Being a licensed sponsor means you are agreeing to meet all of the duties associated with sponsoring a migrant worker. You are obliged to ensure compliance with the immigration rules and prevent abuse of the system. The Home Office relies on employers performing these duties and maintaining adequate records to avoid illegal working within the United Kingdom. This article aims to answer our client’s most common questions regarding sponsor duties.
Your responsibilities as a Sponsor
Your responsibilities as a sponsor start on the day your licence is granted by the Home Office and will continue until either one of these three occurs –
- You surrender your licence.
- The Home office makes your licence dormant (for example, when you have been taken over by another organisation).
- The Home office revokes your licence.
Your responsibility for each migrant worker you sponsor starts when you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to them.
Your responsibility for each migrant worker ends as soon as any of the following events occurs:
- They leave the UK, and their entry clearance or permission expires or lapses.
- Their application for entry clearance or permission is refused or is cancelled, and any administrative review or appeal rights have been exhausted.
- They are granted entry clearance or permission to work for a different sponsor.
- They are granted settlement (indefinite leave to remain) or permission to stay on an immigration route that does not require sponsorship on the Worker or Temporary Worker routes.
- You tell the home office that you are no longer sponsoring the worker for any other reason – for example, you have dismissed them, or they have resigned.
Reporting Duties of a Sponsor
All sponsor licence holders are given access to what’s known as the Sponsor Management System (SMS) run by the Home Office. All UK sponsor licence holders operate under a requirement to inform the Home Office of certain organisational and employee changes via the online Sponsor Management System (SMS).
The Home Office relies on the information recorded and updated through the SMS to monitor and communicate with all sponsor licence holders, as such, there are penalties for those employers that fail to comply and fail to keep their records updated. The Home Office has powers to downgrade, suspend or revoke your licence. This can impact your current sponsored migrant employees and your ability to recruit and employ sponsored migrants in the future.
Record Keeping Duties of a Sponsor
You must maintain accurate and up-to-date records for any migrant worker you sponsor, including their contact details, UK residential address and telephone number. You must also retain copies of any documents to prove their entitlement to work in the UK and undertake the work in question; this includes their immigration status document and biometric residence permit.
There is no prescribed method for storing the documents. They can be kept either as paper copies or in an electronic format. You must, however be able to make the records available to UKVI on request.
Complying with laws
Sponsors must comply with the Home Office’s immigration laws and all parts of the Worker and Temporary Worker sponsor guidance. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Only employ workers who are appropriately qualified, registered or experienced to do the job.
- Keep a copy of any registration document, certificate or reference that confirms they meet the requirements of the specific job, and give this to us on request
- Stop employing any workers who, for any reason, are no longer entitled to do the job
- Not assign a CoS where there is no genuine vacancy or role which meets the Worker or Temporary Worker criteria.
All sponsors must comply with the wider UK law (other than immigration law). This includes, but is not limited to:
- Complying with UK employment law, such as National Minimum Wage, Working Time Regulations and paid holiday entitlement
- Complying with illegal working and right-to-rent legislation
- Being registered with or approved by the relevant authorities.
All sponsors are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with the fundamental values and not detrimental to the wider public good. The Home Office will not license organisations whose actions and behaviour are non-conducive to the public good.
This article is not an exhaustive list of the entire sponsor guidance or sponsor duties. The home office publishes guidance and updates it from time to time and it is vital that all sponsors are up to date with the guidance.
Being compliant for sponsors
Falling short of the required standards and obligations puts your organisation at risk of Home Office enforcement action, with penalties including licence downgrade, suspension or revocation and substantial fines. The implications are significant – disrupting operations, hitting finances and damaging reputation.
The Home Office continues to use site visits to evaluate a sponsor’s compliance and verify the suitability of an employer’s HR systems during the licence’s validity. This can be particularly challenging for smaller organisations without internal HR resources or capacity.
We have an in-house team of experts who can assist you with all your day-to-day Sponsor duties to ensure compliance with the latest Home office guidelines. Contact Us to learn more about how we can help you manage your licence, prepare you for a compliance visit and avoid penalties.