How UK IT Companies Can Survive a Home Office Sponsor Licence Inspection Visit

How Tech Companies Can Survive a Home Office Sponsor Licence Inspection Visit

Home Office inspection visit to Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holders can lead to the devastating situation. Innovative companies such as those in the IT sector have enough to do to ensure they can compete and scale; the last thing they need is to worry about unannounced Home Office audits to check for Sponsor Licence holder compliance.

For many years, IT companies sponsoring skilled talent from outside of the EEA have been on the receiving end of a great deal of scrutiny by the Home Office, due to the perceived abuse of the Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) Visa scheme. In 2010, Computer Weekly ran a piece on the problem, outlining the evidence from Migration watch for widespread abuse of the ICT scheme, and suggestions to mitigate it. Such suggestions included increasing the minimum income threshold to £50,000 and making IT companies complete Resident Labour Market Tests for those roles most open to abuse.

Despite there being very little evidence of misuse, there is still, even eight years later, a pervasive suspicion of abuse of the Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) Visa scheme in the IT sector, and such companies feel particularly vulnerable to having their Sponsor Licence unfairly suspended or revoked.

What are the Effects for IT companies of a Sponsor Licence Revocation or Downgrade?

A Sponsor Licence downgrade, suspension, or revocation can significantly limit the ability of an IT company to hire skilled talent from overseas. In the event of being downgraded from an A-rating to a B-rating, you will be restricted in the following ways:

  • You cannot issue any new Certificates of Sponsorship to bring in new resources from outside the EU.
  • A B-rated sponsor is not able to add branches or new tiers to its licence.
  • You may receive more regular and extensive audit checks from the Home Office.
  • You may be unable to certify maintenance requirements for Tier 2 Visa applicants.
  • Leave to Remain (Visa) curtailment of a current non-EU skilled workforce.

If the Home Office believe they have sufficient grounds, your firm may be issued with a sponsor licence revocation. If this does occur, the Home Office may curtail the leave of all sponsored migrants to (typically) 60-days, thereby allowing them time to find new employment with a new sponsor. For anyone who has been granted entry clearance to work for your firm under the sponsoring scheme, if they have not yet travelled to the UK, their entry clearance will be immediately cancelled, preventing them to coming to the country.

How to Pass a Home Office Sponsor Licence with Flying Colours

With proper planning, even a completely unannounced visit from the Home Office should not be a cause for concern. The following are some of the most important considerations (tips) when preparing for an audit:

  • Keep a copy of your original application for a sponsor licence, and ensure that you keep evidence of any documents to support your answers
  • Keep your Sponsorship Management System (SMS) fully up to date. This entails ensuring your Level 1 user understands their role, there is a backup if they are absent, any changes are immediately passed to the Level 1 user, and changes are made preferably on the same day. Remember, an immigration lawyer such as A Y & J Solicitors can take on this role for you, thereby freeing up your team to focus on the day to day operation of the business.
  • Compliance officers may visit any site at which your sponsored workforce are As such you should prepare all sites with sponsored staff for the possibility of a visit from the Home Office, including third-party locations.
  • Ensure the Home Office is notified of any Key Personnel role changes – including the Authorizing Officer, Key Contact, and Level 1 User. These can be undertaken by one person and can be outsourced to an immigration lawyer.
  • If you have undertaken Resident Labor Market Tests, which have resulted in you sponsoring an overseas member of staff, ensure you keep all copies of CV of domestic applicants who were not suitable. You may be asked to show these to a compliance officer. Keeping copies of interview notes is also recommended.
  • Ensure any information and paperwork you hold as a sponsor licence holder is accurate.
  • Ensure everyone involved in upholding the duties of a sponsor licence holder understands their role, and there is a clearly documented process for managing these duties.

Implement an internal reporting system so you can keep a track of the working location of your sponsored employees at all times.

In conclusion

Given the Home Office scrutiny on IT companies over the past decade, it is understandable many employers are worried they might fall foul of a Home Office audit. By engaging the services of A Y & J Solicitors, we can take much of the stress off your shoulders. We can help you to ensure your initial application for a Sponsor Licence is completed correctly, and in parallel check, your business is eligible and compliant. We are experts in assessing the HR processes and systems of our clients to determine if they comply with Home Office rules and if they don’t, recommending the easiest approach to ensuring any gaps are filled. Once we are confident you are compliant, we will work with you to ensure you remain that way. One way we achieve this is by undertaking regular mock audits, which replicate the checks that the Home Office compliance officer will complete. In addition, we can take the administrative burden from your organisation by taking on the Level 1 role, and ensure your SMS is always up to date.

Client says, “A Y & J has helped us great deal recently for us to retain our ‘A’ rating Tier 2 sponsor licence. They made all easy for us and we passed our audit with the Home office with flying colours.

“A Y & J has helped us great deal recently for us to retain our ‘A’ rating Tier 2 sponsor licence. They made all easy for us and we passed our audit with the Home office with flying colours.

Being an IT company with Tier 2 Sponsor licence, we were blown away by the complex processes and policies to be implemented to be 100% compliant with the latest Home office’s requirement of Tier 2 sponsorship. It is hard to figure out as to what was enough and correct. It was very stressful to monitor Tier 2 migrants & especially the arrangement of the sponsored workers working at the client site on ‘client contract’.

A word of warning to other likewise companies, please do not take it easy. There is a lot for the Tier 2 compliance which you do not know that you really “do not know”. So, in this case, you need a specialist to make you understand first what you “do not know” that help you to fix that.

If you are a company with a Tier 2 sponsor licence and want complete peace of mind maintaining your Tier 2 licence and retaining your NON-EU skilled staff then A Y & J is the company to go to. They simply do not work as a consultant for me, but they literally owned my problem. I cannot ask more than this. Thank you so much and my best wishes to A Y & J. I have referred few of my acquaintances to A Y & J for their ‘Tier 2 compliance audit’”.

We highly recommend A Y & J, working with the team has been fantastic experience.

A Y & J Solicitors are specialists in immigration law based in central London. If you would like to have more information, 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.

A Y & J Solicitors

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Sponsorship Licence Compliance Duties for Sponsor Licence Holders