White Rose Visas have recently seen an increase in Sponsors receiving Compliance Visits from the Home Office. Getting a visit is usually nothing to worry about, as long as you are meeting your Sponsor Duties; more on those later.
Within many industries experiencing skills shortages, Tier 2 migrants are simply a necessity. After the effects of Brexit limit free movement, taking effect from December 2020, many European employees will also need Tier 2 sponsorship. Many British companies will therefore increasingly become reliant upon their ability to attain and keep a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence.
Companies are rightly worried about the revocation of sponsorship licences and how this could affect their ability to hire the right team.
Below are our top tips on surviving a Home Office Compliance Visit.
1. Genuine Vacancy
This is the most important part of holding a Sponsor Licence and the main thing that a Compliance Officer will be looking out for:
- There must be a genuine vacancy which you cannot fill from the local workforce. You won’t obtain or keep a sponsor license if you want to employ bar staff or someone to grind your Java coffee beans. However if you need a C++ or Java coder you may well be eligible for a Sponsor Licence.
- The migrant worker must be doing the job they were hired for. For example, if you advertised for a specialist chef but the person you hired is simply operating the toaster, this will not meet the genuine vacancy requirement!
- The migrant worker must actually have the skills and qualifications that were required at the time of advertising. The skills and qualifications that you asked for must also be relevant to the duties that the migrant worker is completing.
- The Compliance Officer is likely to interview you and your migrant workers to ensure that the above are being met.
2. Key Personnel
Every Sponsor Licence holder has a number of Key Personnel involved in the day to day running of the licence. These people are likely to be interviewed, during the Compliance Officer’s visit. These roles are:
- Authorising Officer: this person has final responsibility for the Sponsor Management System (the online portal provided by the Home Office, referred to as the SMS) and must be the most senior person in charge of recruitment of Sponsored Workers. This person must be a permanent employee of the company, must be based in the UK, and cannot be your Representative. It is likely that your Authorising Officer will be interviewed.
- Key Contact: this is the main point of contact with the Home Office who will receive any relevant updates, and confirmation of any changes made in the SMS. This person can be your Representative.
- Level 1 and 2 Users: These are the people who will have access to the SMS and are able to make any relevant changes and updates. Every user must have their own ID and password - allowing another individual to use these details can lead to your licence being revoked. There must be at least one Level 1 User within your company, subsequent Users can be representatives.
In addition, evidence showing completion of the Resident Labour Market Test including copies of all adverts, and detailed notes from any interviews which demonstrate why the candidate you wish to appoint/ have appointed is more suitable than other applicants.
We have seen employers have their Sponsor Licence Application refused because they did not have these systems in place at the time of applying, so make sure your files are organised!
Once you have been granted the licence, one of your main responsibilities as a sponsor is to ensure that you report any major changes to your migrant worker’s circumstances. Any change to employment must be reported within 10 days; the Compliance Officer will be checking for any changes and whether the Home Office were made aware of these. Ones to watch out for are:
- Reporting if your migrant worker doesn’t turn up for their first day of work ‐ this includes if their visa was not granted in time for this date to be met!
- Changes in responsibilities, through promotion or otherwise.
- Unpaid leave of more than four weeks in any calendar year
- Unauthorised absence of more than 10 days
- Your worker gets a new visa, for example obtains their settlement (ILR); this counts as you no longer sponsoring them, even if they continue to work for you.
4. Record Keeping
Record keeping ties in quite nicely with Reporting. As well as letting the Home Office know about certain things, one of your Sponsor Duties is to keep records and evidence of your migrant worker:
- Evidence of salary payments to the migrant worker including payslips and accounts.
- Absences – as noted above, this includes the first day of work!
- Contact details – any change of address, phone number must be stored and easily accessed
As long as you have all of the above in place, your Compliance Visit should run smoothly. It is possible that the Compliance Officer will ask you to complete some actions as part of their final report; make sure you carry these out as soon as possible.
How can we help?
The Tier 2 and 5 Guidance for Sponsors has more in-depth detail on your Sponsor Duties and how to ensure you meet them. White Rose Visas also offer a complete and thorough service in all aspects of Sponsor Licensing, from a comprehensive guide to Compliance Visits to assistance with applying for a Sponsor Licence, Restricted and Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship and Tiers 2 and 5 visa applications.
We also offer a Premium Support Package, which includes an annual “audit” and bespoke Migrant Tracker which takes care of all reporting and record keeping responsibilities, leaving you free to get on with the business of running your business!
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0114 303 9933 for more information.