The UK Sponsorship system is centred around two principles; firstly, those who benefit most directly from migration should play their part in ensuring the sponsorship system is not abused and secondly, the Home Office needs to be sure that those applying to come to the UK to do a job or to study are eligible to do so and that a reputable employer or education provider genuinely wishes to take them on. Therefore, it is vital that sponsors understand their duties and know what is expected from them in terms of complying with the Home Office’s rules.
Sponsoring Migrant Workers under the Points-Based System
Usually, if an employer wishes to employ a migrant worker, they must sponsor that person during their stay in the UK. Before sponsoring a migrant, an employer must obtain a sponsor licence. The Home Office expects sponsors to fulfill all their duties to ensure that the sponsorship system is not abused. Some duties apply to all sponsors whilst others are specific under certain tiers such as Tier 2 (Employers) or Tier 5 (Education Providers).
UK Sponsor’s Duties & Objectives
The main duties for a UK sponsor include at least the following:
- Keeping a record of all documents in relation to a migrant employee and making it available for Home Office officials;
- Reporting certain information to Home Office officials (i.e whether a migrant’s contract of employment has ended earlier than it’s indicated on the certificate of sponsorship); and
- Maintaining migrant’s contact details including a history of details not just a current address.
Sponsor’s duties are intended to:
- Prevent abuse of the assessment procedures;
- Capture early, any patterns of migrant behavior that may cause concern;
- Address possible weaknesses in process which can cause those patterns; and
- Monitor compliance with the immigration rules.
UK Sponsor Compliance: UKBA Workplace Visits
The Home Office (powers currently delegated to the UK Border Agency) can also undertake unannounced workplace visits at any time during the year and has the power to revoke or suspend a sponsor’s licence to sponsor migrants, if failure to comply is suspected or demonstrated. Not all visits are unannounced and it may be that such visits can be arranged in advance.
When Home Office officials make a visit, they will expect to examine those areas of Human Resources and procedures which are outlined in their guidance. They will also verify the information provided by sponsor’s on their application for obtaining the sponsorship licence.
Breaches of Sponsor Duties & Consequences
If a sponsor fails to comply with any of their duties, the Home Office will not hesitate to take action.
That action could result in a sponsor’s licence being revoked, suspended or downgraded to a B-rating and/or a reduction to the number of Certificate of Sponsorship’s a sponsor is allowed to assign.
UK Sponsorship Licence Solicitors
Obtaining a UK Sponsorship licence is far from a straightforward process involving referencing not only the immigration rules but also supplementary guidance notes. Together with this issue is ensuring that the bundle of supporting documents meets the Home Office’s stringent requirements and properly evidences the application. For this reason it is usual for a professional employer to instruct expert immigration sponsorship solicitors to manage this process.
There is currently no appeal process against any decision made by the Home Office with respect to Sponsorship Licences, so any problems against any decision made by the Home Office would involve costly and lengthy legal action for Sponsors.
It is therefore imperative that you instruct professional solicitors who specialise in obtaining sponsorship licences and will guide your business step by step through the process involved in not only obtaining a sponsorship licence but also complying with ongoing requirements vis a vis sponsorship duties.
Contact us to discuss your eligibility in obtaining a UK Sponsorship Licence and to find out more about your duties once you are a Sponsor.