One of the common areas of immigration compliance risk among sponsor licence holders relates to record-keeping. Sponsor licence holders must retain the relevant documents as listed in Appendix D.
Failure to comply with your sponsor duties, such as record-keeping, can lead to the sponsor licence being downgraded, suspended or even revoked. In turn, this can result in sponsored migrants seeing their leave in the UK curtailed. This can be operationally disruptive, costly and damaging to the organisation’s reputation.
The following guide examines in more detail the nature of the documents you must keep as part of your sponsorship requirements, as set out under Appendix D of the Immigration Rules.
In addition, HR systems for maintaining personnel records must be sufficient to facilitate easy access and availability for inspection on request – typically at short notice – from the Home Office.
What is Appendix D?
Appendix D provides the list of documents you must keep and the time you need to retain them for in order to comply with your sponsor licence duties. It applies to organisations sponsoring workers under the Skilled Worker, Temporary Worker and Global Business Mobility routes, as well as organisations sponsoring students. The Appendix should be read in support of the Home Office’s full policy guidance on sponsorship.
How long must sponsorship records be kept?
Importantly, all documents submitted as part of your sponsorship licence application must be retained and accessible for the duration of your licence validity.
In relation to sponsored workers, all relevant documents listed under Appendix D must be kept for whichever is the longer period of the following:
- One year from the date you end your sponsorship of the migrant; or
- The date the documents have been examined and approved by a compliance officer, if it has been less than one year since end of your sponsorship of the migrant.
If you sponsored the worker for less than one year, you must retain the documents for the duration the migrant is sponsored or until a compliance officer has examined and approved them, whichever is the longer period.
Employers must also ensure that in addition to sponsorship record-keeping, they are also compliant with their duties under the Prevention of Illegal Working Regime, which may require certain documents to be kept for longer periods of time. In addition, sponsors also have to comply with the reelavtn data protection obligations when obtaining and retaining employee information.
How to store Appendix D documents
While Appendix D specifies which documents are to be retained, it provides no prescribed method for storing the documents to meet the record-keeping duties.
As such, documents can be kept as either paper copies or in an electronic format, provided you are able to make them available to the Home Office on request.
Part 1: documents for sponsored workers
There are various documents that you must keep for each sponsored worker. These include:
- Proof of the individual’s right to work.
- Evidence of the worker’s date of entry to the UK if you sponsored the worker’s most recent leave to enter. If they entered the country before the ‘valid from’ date on their visa, they will not have permission to work for you.
- A record of the worker’s national insurance number, unless the migrant is exempt from requiring one. This could include a copy of, for example, their NI card or NI number notification letter from HM Revenue & Customs or the Department for Work and Pensions, their wage slip or their P45/P60. In some cases, the NI number will be recorded on the BRP or in the result of an online right to work check.
- A history of the worker’s up-to-date contact details, ie; their UK residential address, landline number and mobile telephone number.
- If employing a child aged under 18, a copy of a letter from the worker’s parents or legal guardian, or just one parent if that parent has sole legal responsibility for the child, consenting to the arrangements that have been made with regard to the child’s application, travel, reception and care arrangements in the UK.
- A copy of the worker’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check where required for the role undertaken by the sponsored migrant.
- A record of the worker’s absences.
- Any other document set out in the relevant government guidance and codes of practice.
- If you are sponsoring under the GBM Service Supplier route, you will need to retain a copy of any contract you have awarded for the supply of service to you and either of the following:
- the tender document for that contract
- evidence of how the contract was awarded if it was not formally tendered
- If you are sponsoring under the GBM Secondment route, you will need to retain a copy of any relevant agreement or contract for goods or investment to which both you and the overseas business are parties. For each such agreement or contract, you must also keep one of the following:
- evidence of how you were awarded the contract or investment, such as a tender application or investment application
- a tender document for a contract for goods
- evidence of how the contract for goods was awarded if it was not formally tendered
In most cases, you would keep a copy of each sponsored worker’s current passport pages showing all personal identity details, including biometric details, and relevant leave stamps, or immigration status document including their period of leave to remain in the UK, and a copy of their biometric residence permit (BRP) if they have one.
Part 2: Documentary proof of the recruitment process
Sponsors must retain evidence of the recruitment process for all sponsored worker roles. This information is used by the Home Office to determine if the vacancy is genuine.
The full list of recruitment documentation is extensive, and can be found in Part 2 of the Appendix.
The lists includes, but is not limited to, all applications shortlisted for final interview, for example, emails, CV’s or application form; the names and total number of applicants shortlisted for final interview; and for each settled worker who was rejected or did not take up the offer of employment, interview notes or other documentation which show the reasons why they have not been employed.
If you did not advertise the role, you will need to explain why and explain how the individual was determined to be suitable for the role.
These requirements apply even where the Resident Labour Market Test (see below) no longer needs to be undertaken for the route you are hiring under.
Part 3: Proof of rates of pay
When sponsoring workers, you can only assign Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) where the job is eligible for sponsorship, which includes the requirement to meet any relevant minimum salary threshold and pay a suitable rate of pay.
As proof of meeting the salary sponsored visa salary threshold, you will need to retain copies of the following documents:
- Copies of the worker’s payslips, clearly showing the name, NI number, tax code, any allowances paid and deductions made.
- Evidence of the amount and frequency of all salary payments made to each worker showing, for example, the transfer of each payment into their bank account. Where you wish to rely on other account records, the Home Office must be able to clearly identify the specific worker’s wage in order to assess whether the migrant is being paid in line with what you originally stated on their certificate of sponsorship and with the rules set out in the guidance.
- A copy of any contract of employment/services or a written statement of employment particulars between you and the worker which clearly shows your names and signatures, the start and end dates of the contract, details of the job and an indication of how much the migrant will be paid.
- If the worker receives any allowances as part of their salary package, evidence of the value of those allowances must be kept unless they are clearly shown in a contract or on their payslips.
- Any other document as required by relevant government guidance or code of practice.
Part 4: Proof of skill level and qualifications
A further requirement is that you can only assign CoS to workers where the job is suitable for sponsorship in terms of skill level.
As such, you will need to retain a detailed and specific job description outlining the duties and responsibilities of the post, including the skills, qualifications and experience required for the post.
This also means that you must check that any foreign workers you sponsor have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents showing this.
These documents should include copies of any qualifications the migrant holds to confirm skill level such as degree certificate and/or documents that show the worker had the skills and experience to do the job – this could be references from a previous employer or other evidence of experience – as well as copies of any registration and/or professional accreditation documents and/or any confirmation letter the migrant is required to have in order to do their job.
Appendix D documents for students
There are also various documents that you must keep for each migrant student sponsored under the points-based system. These include the following:
- A copy of each sponsored student’s current passport pages showing all personal identity details, including biometric details, and relevant leave stamps, or immigration status document including their period of leave to remain in the UK. This must show their entitlement to study with a licensed sponsor. In the absence of an entry stamp, other evidence such as the travel ticket to the UK or boarding card should be kept.
- A copy of the student’s biometric residence permit (BRP).
- A record of the student’s absence/attendance, whereby this may be kept either electronically or manually.
- A history of the student’s up-to-date contact details to include UK residential address, landline number and mobile telephone number.
- Where the student’s course of study requires them to hold an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate, you must keep a copy of the certificate or the electronic approval notice received by you, from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
- If you are a Higher Education Institution endorsing a student under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or start-up route, you must keep evidence of the selection process that resulted in that endorsement.
- For migrants in the Child Student category who are going to be cared for in the UK in a private foster care arrangement during their stay, you must, as soon as you become aware of the student’s arrival, provide details of the name of the foster carer and of the address where the foster carer and the migrant will be living, to the local authority in whose area the child will be living. You must also keep a record of the notification to the local authority.
- Copies, or originals where possible, of any evidence assessed by you as part of the process of making an offer to the student, for example, copies of references or examination certificates.
The Home Office has powers to investigate sponsor licence holders for immigration breaches.
Sponsors can be subject to an online compliance check or an onsite compliance visit – announced or unannounced – at any time during the validity of licence, including as part of a licence renewal application. It is therefore essential as a licence holder that you carry out regular reviews of your records and be prepared for an inspection. It is also important to ensure that any relevant documents are easily accessible so that these can be provided in the event that a request is made.
Failure to produce relevant documents to UKVI officers when they visit can of itself be classed as a breach. The officer will want to see the files of sponsored workers and students and it is essential that those files contain the documents referred to in Appendix D.
Sponsor licence compliance is best approached as a daily concern. By integrating good record-keeping practices into the organisation’s standard HR and personnel processes, sponsors can ensure compliance and consistency, and avoid enforcement action.
Our business immigration specialists have extensive experience in supporting organisations through the lifecycle of their licence, from the initial application to ongoing management and licence renewal applications. For advice on any aspect of managing your sponsor licence, including record-keeping, contact us.
Appendix D FAQs
What is Appendix D?
Appendix D lists the documents sponsor licence holders must retain in relation to their sponsored workers.
How long do documents have to be kept for?
Under the sponsor licence guidance, Appendix D documents have to be kept for the longer period of either one year from the date the sponsorship ended, or if the migrant is no longer sponsored by you, the point at which a compliance officer has examined and approved them.
How do Appendix D documents have to be stored?
There is no prescribed format to retain the documents, however, they must be easily accessible and made available to the Home Office on request.
Last updated: 15 September 2022