Businesses Need to Comply with UK Immigration Law Or Face The Consequences
In early December 2018, the UK Government was to publish its long-awaited White Paper on post-Brexit immigration. It will be the biggest change to immigration law for over a decade and will confirm that after the end of the ‘transition period’, where the UK formally ends free movement, EEA nationals will be treated the same as other migrants, for example from India or Australia.
A leaked draft of the paper contains proposals for an 11-month visa with “restricted entitlements and rights”, aimed at roles in sectors such as construction, social care and hospitality which pay below the £30,000 salary threshold for a standard work visa. For skilled migrants, it appears the salary threshold will remain.
Britain leaving the European Union will mean far more employers will need to understand and comply with UK immigration laws. Many British sectors rely on EU migrant labour – but after Brexit, if they want to employ a person who is not a settled person, they will need to follow the Home Office process.
The Sponsor Licence
Currently, if a business wishes to employ a person who is not an EEA national, they must apply for a UK Tier 2 Sponsor Licence. This will allow them to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to potential employees who require a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa to enter the UK.
The key principles the Home Office will consider when assessing whether or not to grant a Sponsor Licence include whether the organisation:
- is genuine and operating or trading lawfully in the UK
- based in the UK
- holds the appropriate planning permission or Local Planning Authority consent for the type of business operated at the trading address (if relevant)
- is ‘honest, dependable and reliable’
- does not represent a threat to immigration control, and
- can comply with the sponsor duties and responsibilities, and evidencing that compliance, in the timeframe and manner set out in the Sponsor Guidance
It is the last requirement which creates the biggest challenge for employers, who normally have too much work to do and not enough hours in the day to do it. And make no mistake, Sponsor Licence compliance requires serious preparation and meticulous planning.
The Penalties for Non-Compliance with Home Office Sponsor Licence Rules
Penalties for failure to comply with Home Office Sponsor Licence rules are severe and may result in business closure sometimes. A Civil Penalty Notice can lead to fines of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker. Employers who been found to have knowingly employed someone who does not have a legal right to work in the UK, may face five years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine.
Non-compliance can also lead to your Sponsor Licence being downgraded, suspended, or revoked. This means you will be unable to issue new Certificates of Sponsorship and your existing Tier 2 migrant workers may have to leave the country.
What are the Sponsor Licence Duties a Business Must Comply With?
When an organisation obtains a Sponsor Licence, it must comply with several duties and responsibilities to the Home Office. When you submit an application for the licence, you are declaring you can comply with all expectations, including:
- monitoring immigration status and preventing illegal employment
- maintaining migrant contact details
- other record keeping
- monitoring and reporting migrant activity
- ensuring that relevant professional registrations and accreditations have been obtained
- reporting various changes of circumstances to the sponsor
- complying with the law – e.g. employment and tax law
- cooperating with the Home Office
The most effective way to achieve compliance is to partner with an experienced immigration legal expert such as A Y & J Solicitors.
How A Y & J Solicitors can Assist you with Sponsor Licence Compliance
Our lawyers have years of experience in assisting public and private companies and NGOs apply for their Tier 2 or 5 Sponsor Licence and maintain compliance. In addition, we have provided legal advice and representation to businesses who have had their licence downgraded, suspended or revoked.
Below is review Trustpilot from a corporate client we recently advised.
Having our Sponsor Licence suspended was a major roadblock for our business, but Mr. Yash Dubal and his team were exceptionally motivated and offered us honest legal advice.
“Right from the word go, AYJ Solicitors were ultra-professional. Having our Sponsor Licence suspended was a major roadblock for our business, but Mr. Yash Dubal and his team were exceptionally motivated and offered us honest legal advice. They worked with us tirelessly to get things sorted and get our Sponsor Licence duties in sync with UKVI requirements. As a consequence of their legal expertise, our Sponsor Licence was reinstated. We would recommend AYJ Solicitors to anybody who is looking for high-quality Legal Advice”.
Amisoft Technologies Ltd
The biggest advantage we can provide to organisations applying for a Sponsor Licence or struggling with compliance is an understanding of how the Home Office works and the motivations of compliance inspectors and licence approvers. We visit organisations in person, prior to an application for a licence being made, and conduct an in-depth audit of their HR systems. This ensures that when the Home Office conducts a pre-licence visit, any weaknesses in your policies and procedures which could prevent your application from being successful will have been addressed.
In addition, we offer ongoing Tier 2 Sponsor Licence compliance training and will conduct audits, to further ensure that your organisation has no compliance gaps which could be picked up in an unannounced Home Office visit.
Finally, our team can act as your Key Personnel. We can manage your Sponsor Licence system and advise you on Right to Work and Resident Labour Market Tests. By ensuring that your team collates and maintains the records required to show you conducted these tests in a valid manner and that your records are fully up-to-date, you may eliminate your risk of non-compliance and the draconian consequences which can accompany this.
A Y & J Solicitors are specialists in immigration law based in central London. If you would like more information about the Sponsor Licence compliance process, applying for a licence or help if your licence has been downgraded, suspended or revoked, please contact us at [email protected] or call +44 20 7404 7933.
Disclaimer: No material/information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should seek an appropriate professional advice for their immigration matters.