Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Home Office Inspection Visit to Hotel / Restaurant / Retail Houses
Home Office Inspection Visits to Tier 2 Sponsor licence holders are frequent nowadays. It is a matter of concern to the UK hotel, Restaurant, retail and e-commerce industry as they are more reliant than ever on non-EEA staff, and therefore, need to pass their Sponsor Licence audits every time UKVI decides to pay a visit.
A UK Sponsor Licence is essential for any business which needs to recruit talent from outside the EEA. Not only do employers need a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence to issue Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) potential recruits, once they hold a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence, it is imperative to remain fully compliant with Home Office duties and responsibilities to maintain A-rated status. Compliance is tested with periodic announced, or unannounced audits by Home Office compliance officers.
Planning and preparation is key to passing your Tier 2 Sponsor Licence audit
The Modernised Guidance (MG) for Home Office caseworkers on how to decide Sponsor Licence applications provides guidance on when prospective and existing sponsors should be referred for a visit by the compliance team. Triggers for a compliance visit include:
- Your business has a particular risk profile. This is not defined but it is clear that certain sectors such as catering and hospitality are seen as more ‘high-risk’ than others.
- Tier 2 ‘genuine employment’ checks are needed.
- Your business has applied for a new CoS and has not had a visit in the past 12 months.
- Your organisation has no previous immigration history.
- Your Sponsor Licence expired, and you did not renew it.
Home Office compliance officers may arrive completely unannounced at any site where sponsored staff are working, even if this is not where your management team are based. As such, you always need to maintain Sponsor Licence compliance throughout your entire organisation. There are several keys to success to ensure you do not fall foul of a compliance audit:
- It is important that you can provide evidence for everything you stated on your original Sponsor Licence application form – ensure you retain copies of the application, and any supporting documents which show your answers on the application form were valid.
- Keep track of the details of your sponsored workers, including their immigration status, working locations, and personal details.
- Maintain the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) rigorously. This is the responsibility of your nominated Level 1 user and requires a process for ensuring they receive all updates to be added to the system. An immigration lawyer can take on this role for you, thereby freeing up your team to focus on the day to day operation of your business.
- Prepare all sites with sponsored staff for the possibility of an audit.
- Allocate key personnel, including the Authorising Officer, Key Contact, and Level 1 User. Note, these can be undertaken by one person, or be outsourced to an immigration lawyer to completely remove this burden from your shoulders. The compliance officer will want to see that key personnel understand their duties and have a clear process to follow.
- Always check if a Resident Labour Market Test (RMLT) is required when recruiting a new staff member from outside of the EU. This is dependent on whether the position you are recruiting for appears on the UK Shortage Occupation List. Keep copies of CVs of domestic applicants who were not suitable as you may be asked to show these to a compliance officer. Keeping copies of interview notes is also good practice.
If you have your Tier 2 or Tier 5 Sponsor Licence downgraded, suspended, or revoked, by seeking the legal guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer, you will have the best chance of reinstating your licences to its full A-rating.
Client says, “Our firm had an inspection from Home Office and we have had some discrepancies in our general administrative records. Nothing that cannot be resolved so we thought that we will get away with a warning. However, the HO decided to suspend our Licence after 4-5 months of wait. We then approached A Y & J Solicitors and they looked into our case and after that, we realised the situation was worse than we thought.
We then approached A Y & J Solicitors and they looked into our case and after that, we realised the situation was worse than we thought.
We had all the documentation in hand but just needed to put them in order and there was so much work that had to be done to put everything in order. We were only given a couple of weeks from HO to make an appeal or else our Licence would have been revoked. I am extremely thankful for their services. We got the result and our Licence was reinstated. Without the assistance from A Y & J Solicitors team, we would have lost our Licence. They knew exactly what needed to be done and I will be more than happy to recommend them to all our clients seeking immigration services.”
Acquiring and maintaining a Tier 2 or Tier 5 Sponsor Licence undoubtedly comes with a time and financial burden for any business wishing to recruit talent from outside of the EEA. But getting compliance correct can ensure your business is never short of skills to help grow your operation. To reduce the administrative burden, you can delegate some of your Sponsor Licence duties to an experienced immigration lawyer, thereby taking much of the stress off your shoulders.
By engaging the ongoing support of A Y & J Solicitors, you can be more confident that your initial application for a Sponsor Licence will be granted, and your business remains compliant each year. We will ensure all relevant HR processes and systems continue to remain compliant by holding mock audits, which replicate the checks that the Home Office compliance officer can complete. In addition, we can take the administrative burden from your organisation by taking on the Level 1 role, and ensuring your SMS is always up to date.
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.