With the UK-EU transition period ending on the last day of 2020, many UK companies who rely on international talent to grow their business and meet customer and innovative demands have secured a UK Sponsor Licence. This allows them to employ people from outside the UK, including EU/EEA nationals. By instructing an immigration lawyer, organisations applying for a Sponsor Licence can put together the best application. But what happens after the licence is granted? Is this the end of dealing with UK Visas and Immigration? Unfortunately, no. You will need to ensure you comply with Sponsor Licence duties and responsibilities. Failure to do so could see your licence suspended or even revoked, the latter meaning not only can you not hire people from abroad, but your existing staff in the country on a Skilled Worker Visa may be sent home.
To ensure your migrant employees can stay in the UK and you can continue to employ EU and non-EU talent, below are some tips for meeting Sponsor Licence compliance.
Your best investment regarding your Sponsor Licence compliance is to work with an experienced immigration Solicitor who can advise you of any immigration law changes and review your HR systems regularly.
The Home Office often introduces immigration law changes by stealth. Busy employers can find themselves suddenly in breach of their compliance duties, having been unaware of a change being made. By working with an immigration lawyer, you can be confident that you will always be kept up to date with regulatory changes.
It is also important to be aware that UKVI compliance officers can and do make unannounced visits to licence holders’ premises. Therefore, you need to commit to ensuring your recording and reporting duties (see below) and all Sponsor Licence Management (SMS) entries are kept updated. Your HR systems also need to be orderly, so you can quickly access information about your Skilled Worker Visa employees if it is requested.
There are many recording and reporting duties attached to a Sponsor Licence (the Sponsor Licence guidance runs to 246 pages). The below lists are not exhaustive but do set out some of the main responsibilities you have to meet.
You will need to have the following items up to date and readily available to provide to UKVI upon request.
The SMS is used for reporting information to UKVI. The below must be reported within 10 working days:
Significant changes to your business, for example, it is involved in a merger or acquisition or becomes insolvent, must be reported to UKVI via the SMS within 20 working days.
Part of your responsibilities as a Sponsor Licence holder is to ensure full compliance with all non-immigration laws in addition to those covering immigration. For example, you must ensure that when it comes to UK employees you are paying the correct minimum wage. Regulations covering health and safety, redundancy, and trade must also be complied with at all times.
Holding a Sponsor Licence so you can employ skilled workers from overseas comes with significant responsibility. Before committing to applying for a licence, you need to ensure you not only have the resources and HR systems in place to meet the compliance requirements, but you have access to an immigration lawyer who can provide you with the best advice and representation throughout the life of your licence. Doing so will result in a smooth, easy Sponsor Licence experience and help protect your best interests and commercial reputation.
To find out more about Sponsor Licence compliance please call 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our immigration Solicitors who are based in Birmingham and London.