Your Essential Guide to Sponsor Licence Reporting and Recording Duties
Few businesses realise the extent of compliance duties when they apply for and successfully gain a Tier 2 or 5 Sponsor Licence. Many employers and HR directors contact us in shock, after discovering that ensuring their organisation retains its A-rating requires more than filling out the odd form when a new non-EU/EEA recruit comes on board.
Unless you outsource the function to an immigration lawyers, Sponsor Licence reporting and record-keeping duties will take up time and resource. Failure to comply can result in Sponsor Licence suspension or revocation. These will leave you unable to hire new talent from abroad and can be extremely damaging to your business's reputation.
Things to consider before you even think about applying for a Sponsor Licence
The fastest way to get into trouble with the Home Office is to fall foul of immigration law compliance. You must ensure that you have the following in place and can afford to maintain what is laid out below before you begin the application process.
- Your organisation has human resource and recruitment systems in place to meet its sponsor duties.
- You understand and have the resources to perform Resident Market Labour Tests.
- You understand the differences between restricted and unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). A restricted CoS application cannot be submitted until the sponsor licence is approved and active and applications are only considered once a month on a point scoring basis (unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying out-of-panel consideration). Applications submitted by the fifth day of a month are considered on or around the twelfth day of that month. This means that if the deadline of the fifth is missed, the application will not be considered until the twelfth day of the following month.
- You have the personnel in place to appoint "key personnel" required by the Home Office. The roles required are:
- Authorising Officer - this person should be in a senior role and will be responsible for recruiting all migrant workers. They must be well-versed in sponsor duties and responsibilities.
- Key Contact - this person is themain liaison between UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and your business. An immigration lawyer can perform this role.
- Level 1 user - this person operates the Sponsor Management System (SMS) and is responsible for applying for CoS and record and reporting through the system.
UKVI will do full background checks on the staff you appoint as key personnel, so it is essential to choose people who have not committed any previous immigration offences or have a poor compliance history. Otherwise you risk your Sponsor Licence application being refused.
Sponsor Licence reporting duties
Once you have assigned your key personnel, they need to start operating the SMS. There are two guides to assist you, the first of which explains what the SMS is used for:
"SMS is an online tool that allows you to administer your day-to-day sponsorship duties and activities, such as assigning certificates of sponsorship (CoS) and confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) and reporting changes to a migrant's circumstances. SMS should be used for:
- managing your key personnel and licence details;
- creating, assigning and viewing CAS/CoS;
- applying for and assigning restricted CoS;
- reporting activities relating to your sponsored workers and/or students;
- renewing your allocations and applying for additional CoS and/or CAS;
- applying for Premium customer service (if desired);
- applying for Tier 4 Sponsor status;
- tracking Premium, HTS and licence renewal applications; and
- paying for and tracking the progress of action plans."
The following matters must be reported to UKVI within 20 working days:
- Changes to your business, for example you are involved in a large M&A, stop trading or become insolvent, or substantially change your trade.
- If your sponsored migrant worker is absent for more than 10 working days and the absence is unauthorised.
If the below occur, they must be reported within 10 working days:
- The sponsored migrant does not show up for their first day of work.
- They are dismissed or made redundant before the end date of their employment as it appears on the CoS.
- They switch visas to a category that does not require a sponsored employer (e.g. a spouse visa).
- They are off work for over four consecutive weeks for a reason that is not covered by the exceptions in the Sponsor Guidance.
- They are promoted or receive a significant salary increase or some other major aspect of their work or position changes.
- They become subject to TUPE if the business is transferred.
- The size of your business dramatically changes.
You are also required to report any suspicions of criminal or terrorist activity by the sponsored migrant to the police and UKVI.
Sponsor Licence record-keeping duties
Never underestimate the willingness of the Home Office to conduct an unannounced compliance visit. If you receive advanced warning, consider yourself lucky. To this end, it is vital that you maintain meticulous records relating to your sponsored workers. You may need to swiftly produce the records, so right from the start of your Sponsor Licence, ensure all records are carefully indexed and filed.
All documents relating to a migrant whom you sponsor must be kept throughout the period that you sponsor them and until:
- one year has passed from the date on which you end your sponsorship of the migrant, or
- the date on which a compliance officer has examined and approved them, if this is less than one year after you ended your sponsorship of the migrant.
The below are some of the records required to be retained. This is not exhaustive. A full list can be found in Appendix D of the Home Office's Sponsor Guidance.
- A copy of the sponsored migrant's passport with their Tier 2 or Tier 5 Visa stamps included.
- A copy of the migrant's biometric residence permit (BRP).
- A copy of the migrants NHI card unless the migrant is exempt from having to have one.
- Current and previous contact details of the migrant.
- A full record of any absences from work.
Few employers can confidently comply with Sponsor Licence duties without support. An experienced immigration Solicitors can ensure that your record-keeping and reporting obligations are always current.