UK Immigration – Sponsors & Compliance

Our #ukimmigration blog continues with this look at Sponsors and ensuring your organisation fulfils its UK immigration obligations.

The Sponsor Licence

All UK employers who want to employ overseas workers under Tier 2 General need a Sponsor Licence, authorised by the UK immigration authorities. If the licence application is approved, employers are given either an A-rating or B-rating depending on their level of compliance or risk factor.

The Government places a significant amount of responsibility on employers and sponsors are required to continually meet specific obligations.

A sponsor failing to comply with the duties laid out in the Home Office guidelines faces severe penalties:

  • The Home Office may suspend or downgrade your licence if they believe you are not complying with your duties as a sponsor.
  • Alternatively, the Home Office may revoke your sponsor licence entirely. This will mean all migrants with Tier 2, Tier 4 or Tier 5 status will have to leave the UK voluntarily or face enforced removal.
  • Further penalties for employing illegal workers may also include a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker.

Home Office Compliance

In late 2015, the Home Office stated that the number of Compliance Audits will be increased in all industry sectors, and that many of these will be unannounced.

  • 1792 sponsor licence applications were made in Q2 2015
  • Of these, 791 received a HO visit, some 44%
  • Of those receiving a visit, 57% were unannounced

Approximately 4000 sponsor licence applications were received in 2015; around 25% of those have been audited. The refusal rate is currently almost 1 in 3 (over 30%).

In an effort to rationalise the number of sponsors on the register in 2016, renewal applications will be approached with increased scrutiny and issues including further visits.

Dearson Winyard’s Compliance Audit

Dearson Winyard (DWI) can help your organisation maintain its compliance in case of a Home Office audit.

As part of our Compliance Audit, DWI will undertake a full audit of your organisation’s HR systems as regards its migrant workforce. This will cover six areas:

  1. Prevention of illegal employment and how this is integrated into the hiring process – how document checking procedures are integrated into the recruitment process and how migrants are identified and tracked
  2. Maintaining migrant contact details – which processes are in place to ensure HR records are kept up to date with staff personal contact details
  3. Record keeping – quality of HR file-keeping and how this corresponds to best practice
  4. Migrant tracking and monitoring – how the company monitors, tracks and reports its migrant population
  5. General sponsor duties – compliance with sponsorship duties, including management of the Sponsorship Management System (SMS)
  6. Ongoing sponsorship compliance – reporting changes to employee details (contacts, job roles etc.) and employee absence as well as company changes and updating the SMS

Following this, DWI will provide a full report of our findings and make recommendations on areas that need focus to ensure your maximum compliance. We will also give guidance on the presentation of evidence during the audit and the procedure of the audit itself.

Please contact Sarah Jackson, DWI Client Services Manager, at or 07884 549109 to discuss these services further.


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