If you have a company registered in the UK, you will usually need a UK sponsor licence to employ someone from outside the UK to work for you. This includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020.
To secure a sponsorship licence, you will need to make an application to the Home Office and pay the relevant fees. The Home Office will only grant a sponsor licence to an organisation that can show the roles they are recruiting for and that the workers they intend to sponsor meet the necessary requirements.
If you would like to find out more about the criteria for applying for the sponsor licence, visit our blog post on that topic. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the key responsibilities of a sponsor licence holder.
When do sponsor licence duties start?
Your obligations to comply with the requirements as a licenced sponsor holder begin from the date your licence is granted until you relinquish it, it is made inactive, or it has been terminated. In practice, you will need to have taken certain measures in preparation for the sponsor licence application, since the eligibility requirements demand organisations to evidence certain aspects of immigration compliance.
What are the sponsor licence duties?
To avail of the advantages of employment sponsorship and accessing the global talent market, sponsors are obligated to comply with the following:
· Ensure that the foreign workers you intend to sponsor have the requisite skills, experience or professional qualifications to do the job being recruited for and that you retain records and copies of documentation proving this.
· Allocate Certificates of Sponsorship to foreign workers only for jobs that qualify for sponsorship.
· Monitor your sponsored workers and notify the Home Office if they breach any of their visa or sponsorship conditions.
Compliance with Immigration Rules and UK Law
One of the key responsibilities of a sponsor licence holder is to stay compliant with UK immigration laws. It is crucial to ensure that every sponsored worker maintains their immigration status and sticks to the conditions of their UK visa. For instance:
· Sponsors must ensure that foreign workers are qualified and accredited for their sponsored employment.
· They need to conduct right-to-work checks to confirm that every worker has the legal right to work in the UK.
· They must also comply with all UK employment laws, ensuring that the terms of employment, including pay and working conditions, adhere to UK standards.
If there are any issues – for instance, if a worker suddenly stops coming to work – sponsors must promptly report these to the Home Office using its Sponsorship Management System (SMS).
Sponsorship Licence Reporting Duties
Consistent communication with the Home Office is another vital sponsorship duty. When certain situations arise with your sponsored workers, it’s not just good practice but a requirement to keep the Home Office in the loop through the SMS portal. If you come across any of the following scenarios, you will need to report within 10 working days:
· A no-show on day one: If your sponsored worker doesn’t make an appearance on their scheduled first day.
· Change of plans: If you had to end a sponsored worker’s contract sooner than expected.
· Unplanned breaks: If a sponsored employee misses 10 or more days of work without prior permission. It’s essential for sponsors to make these absences authorised – be it due to illness, vacations, or something else.
· Changes in a contract: Significant modifications in the terms of a sponsored worker’s contract, for instance, if the worker’s contract has been transferred to a different sponsor under TUPE regulations.
Documentation plays an important role in ensuring compliance with sponsorship duties. It’s essential for sponsors to ensure all relevant documents related to each sponsored worker are maintained. This includes the contract of employment, copies of the worker’s visa, passport, biometric residence permit, national insurance number, contact details and documentation that validates the worker’s skills and qualifications.
By maintaining these records, a sponsor can quickly address any inquiries or audits by the Home Office, thereby proving their commitment to compliance.
Reporting Organisational Changes
Changes in an organisation’s structure or operations can have consequences on the sponsorship licence. Thus, sponsors must be proactive in reporting these to the Home Office using SMS within a specific period of time. This includes:
· Changes in trading status, such as ceasing operations or insolvency.
· Substantial shifts in the business nature or size of the organisation.
· Mergers, acquisitions, or takeovers that could alter the company’s ownership or structure.
· Changes affecting the sponsor’s relationship with overseas businesses sending workers to the UK.
The Home Office conducts regular compliance audits and inspections to ensure that sponsors are meeting their obligations. Sponsors should be prepared to provide evidence of compliance during these audits, making accurate record-keeping and reporting even more crucial. Failure to meet reporting obligations can have severe consequences, ranging from warnings and fines to suspension or revocation of the Sponsor Licence. Non-compliance can also impact sponsored migrants, potentially leading to visa cancellations or refusals. As the immigration landscape continues to evolve, seeking professional advice and staying informed and proactive in meeting reporting requirements is essential for both sponsors and the migrants they support.
You can instruct as to manage your sponsor licence. We would be assigned the roles of “Key Contact” and additional “Level 1 User” for your company. This involves assuming all responsibility linked with each respective role for a set period of 12 months. As the Key Contact, we would be responsible for liaising with UKVI for all matters concerning the sponsor licence. As a Level 1 User, we will carry out the day-to-day Sponsor Management System (SMS) activities, including the assignment of Certificates of Sponsorship.