Sponsor Licence Compliance

Obtaining your sponsor licence opens a doorway into accessing a worldwide talent market by enabling the recruitment of skilled overseas workers. Whilst this has expanded global connectivity, sponsor licences come with strict and regimented regulations.

sponsor licence compliance information

Obtaining your sponsor licence opens a doorway into accessing a worldwide talent market by enabling the recruitment of skilled overseas workers. Whilst this has expanded global connectivity, sponsor licences come with strict and regimented regulations. 

The mandatory requirements in being granted a sponsor licence are in place to prevent illegal employment within the UK. The intention of the Home Office is to ensure that sponsors are carrying out the functions that were previously conducted by immigration officers.

It is also to ensure adherence to the following aims:

  • The prevention of abuse of sponsor assessment processes
  • To monitor overseas workers and their compliance with immigration rules
  • To capture any patterns of migrant behaviour which may be cause for concern

Therefore, as a sponsor licence holder, you are required to have extensive knowledge of the rules and requirements, as well as consistent commitment in staying compliant to these regulations, which is paramount to retaining your licence. 

It is a difficult process, but assistance is available. Here at Borderless, we serve as the middleman between recruiting overseas workers and ensuring adherence to regulations set out by the Home Office.

Breaching of Sponsorship Regulations – Home Office Penalties

Your licence requires regular attention to any updates in the policies set out by the Home Office, and as an employer, you must have an in-depth understanding of how to use the licence in a lawful manner, and when action may be needed to prevent issues with non-compliance. 

It is important to note that the Home Office has powers to investigate organisations that have aroused suspicion of breaching sponsor licence regulations. Investigations may be carried out to ensure that sponsor licence holders have proficient HR systems in place. They have the ability to conduct site inspections with little notice.

Failing to be compliant with sponsorship duties could result in a downgrade in the licence rating, or potentially even lead to suspension or revocation of the licence. This puts both the employment and immigration status of existing overseas workers at serious risk.

Sponsor Licence Downgrade

  • In the event of minor breaches, the Home Office may take the decision of downgrading the licence from an A-rating to a B-rating. 
  • If this occurs, you will not be allowed to allocate any CoS (Certificates of Sponsorship) to new sponsored workers. 
  • You will also be required to comply with an action plan in order to resolve the alleged breach(es.) Succeeding in this this with reinstate your A-rating status, but a mandatory fee is placed on this action plan.

Sponsor Licence Suspension

For more serious or substantial allegations, see below:

  • If the allegations of breaches are more substantial, the Home Office has the legal right to suspend your licence while further investigating is conducted.
  • Notification of the suspension will be given to your organisation in writing, and it is the responsibility of the organisation to respond to the letter. 
  • The organisation can either accept the allegations or challenge the grounds for suspension.
  • At this point, the Home Office could decide to end the suspension, provided they are satisfied that the breaches have been addressed. Conversely, the Home Office could escalate the penalty to a revocation – this will occur if the initial issues have not been resolved.

Sponsorship Licence Revocation:

For the most serious penalties, see below:

  • If your organisation’s sponsor licence is revoked, you will lose the ability to sponsor overseas workers. 
  • Any current migrant workers will lose their permission to work in the UK within 60 days. During this timeframe, these workers must either secure the right to remain in the UK under a different visa route, or they will be forced to leave the UK by law.
  • You may also be barred from reapplying for a new licence for a period of up to six months – this is known as a cooling-off period. 

The Importance of Compliance - Sponsor Licence Duties

Failing to comply with your duties as a sponsor licence holder may result in the enforcement of Home Office action, which can not only impact your company, but the rights of the sponsored workers and their visa status. 

It is important to recognise that neglecting to stay up to date with laws and regulations around sponsor licence duties can lead to serious consequences for your company. These are problems which can be avoided by actively staying on top of your duties as a licence holder.

A good way to do this is by maintaining accurate records for each sponsored worker. As a company, you must keep all of the documents used as part of the sponsor licence applications.

For all visa routes, a sponsor licence holder must keep either a photocopy or electric copy of each of the following:

  • The relevant pages of the sponsored worker’s passport, including the pages that contain details of personal identity, leave stamps, immigration status, as well as the period of leave to remain
  • The worker’s disclosure barring service check (if relevant)
  • The worker’s current and historic contact details 
  • The worker’s contract of employment
  • The worker’s biometric residence permit
  • The worker’s National Insurance number
  • A record of the worker’s absences
  • Any other document required for the worker’s visa type

It is also important to maintain an up-to-date list of your sponsored workers’ contact information, along with accurate information of rates of pay. This can include:

  • Bank transfers
  • Payslips
  • Contracts of employment
  • Evidence of allowances

The documentation needs to be sufficient to prove that the worker has the necessary skill level for the position they have been assigned to. We advise you to keep all of the mandatory documentation until an officer has examined them. If an officer has already examined the records, we recommend you keep these records for at least one year. However, if an employee works for less than a year, we recommend this is done for the duration of the employment. 

As a team of business immigration experts, we at Borderless provide ongoing guidance and support with sponsor licence laws and regulations. If you have any questions about your sponsor licence duties, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

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