Step up! UKVI sponsor licence compliance checks
As a company holding a sponsor licence to bring workers to the UK, it is important to ensure that all sponsor duties are being fulfilled. Failure to do so can result in a range of actions taken by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), including the downgrading or revocation of the sponsor's licence, suspension of the licence or even cancellation of the permission of sponsored workers to remain in the UK.
To avoid such actions, companies must be compliant with all aspects of immigration law, the Worker and Temporary Worker sponsor guidance, and wider UK law, including employment law. This responsibility is placed on the company by the significant trust granted to them when they were granted a sponsor licence.
The UKVI will regularly monitor sponsor compliance and take action against those who pose a threat to immigration control, breach sponsorship duties, fail to comply with Immigration Rules, or behave in ways not conducive to the public good. Compliance checks may be conducted when there is reasonable suspicion that a breach of duties has occurred, or when the UKVI believes that the company is no longer suitable to hold a licence.
To ensure that companies are complying with their sponsor duties, the UKVI may conduct compliance checks. These checks can take different forms, including asking for additional information, verifying information provided, visiting the company on-site, conducting a digital compliance inspection via remote video conferencing, and checking with other government departments or local authorities.
The purpose of these checks is to ensure that the information provided is accurate and complete, that the company is able to offer genuine employment, and that it is genuine and trading or operating lawfully in the UK. The UKVI will also check that there is no reason to believe that the company represents a threat to immigration control or is engaging in behaviour or actions that are not conducive to the public good. The company must be committed to and actually complying with all sponsor duties.
The UKVI may conduct compliance checks at any time, including before or after a licence has been granted. These checks can be announced or unannounced, and the company must cooperate fully with the UKVI staff. It is the company's responsibility to ensure that any third-party office where sponsored workers perform their duties is aware that the UKVI may conduct unannounced visits and checks. If any third party is uncooperative, the UKVI will take action against the company.
During compliance checks, the UKVI will carry out relevant checks and may interview the company and any sponsored workers. Compliance checks can be conducted via an onsite visit to any physical address where sponsored workers carry out their work, including third-party offices, or through a digital compliance inspection.
Companies must cooperate with the UKVI and adhere to any action plan set by them. B-rated sponsors may be required to comply with additional duties outlined in the action plan. Good practice guidance for sponsors produced with the UKVI's agreement must also be followed to minimise the risk of immigration abuse.
Companies must not engage in abusive, intimidating, or threatening behaviour, conduct amounting to harassment, or attempts to use pressure or bribery to obtain information. Failure to comply with these requirements may lead to further action by the UKVI.
In summary, compliance with all sponsor duties is essential for companies holding a sponsor licence. Regular compliance checks will be conducted by the UKVI to ensure that companies are fulfilling their duties, and non-compliance can result in severe consequences. Companies must cooperate fully with the UKVI and adhere to any action plans set by them to avoid potential issues.
To help you understand and fulfill your sponsor duties to the UKVI, we are offering a free download of our guide "Top 10 Sponsor Duties."