A Home Office inspection can be a cause of real concern for organisations employing foreign nationals. With so much at stake, it’s business-critical to achieve a pass and avoid the consequences of a fail.
But the reality is, as the Government pursues its target of reducing net migration, the likelihood of being subject to a visit is increasing.
So what can you do to improve your chances of having a successful Home Office inspection and retaining your prized licence to employ migrant workers?
Check your policies
You should have formal policies in place for your immigration and Right to Work matters. While your operations may be correct and compliant, it is hugely helpful for a Home Office inspection to have it all official and written down.
You should also be able to show the policies are accessible and understood by your organisation. For example, as part of your onboarding process you could ensure all sponsored workers sign a document confirming they understand their duty to inform on reportable events.
Remember also that your policies will need updating as and when Home Office policy and legislation changes; these updated documents will need communicating to the organisation.
Train your staff
Appropriate training of relevant staff involved in your organisation’s immigration compliance processes is essential. This will go beyond the HR function, and should include managers and sponsored workers. Being inclusive will demonstrate your commitment to developing compliance knowledge and skills across your organisation.
Mind the gaps!
Human error isn’t an excuse for non-compliance. Be clear on roles and responsibilities in your organisation, and formalise them. This will ensure there are no gaps in duties and tasks to be carried out, and should address scenarios such as planned and unplanned absence cover.
Practice makes perfect – use mock audits
Internal audits are extremely worthwhile exercises. Cover the same areas as an official Home Office inspection would: check policies, review records and carry out mock interviews with the staff most likely to be interviewed by the Home Office. We are frequently asked to carry out immigration audits to help identify areas for improvement, and provide coaching for interviewees to make the process less daunting.
The Home Office inspection is centred heavily on documentation and evidence. Demonstrate your willingness and efforts to comply by keeping records, particularly of any related training and internal audits.
If the Home Office does find an error, but they can see you are trying to comply with your obligations, this could help protect you from enforcement action.
Stay on the alert!
A Home Office inspection can happen at any time – at short notice or even unannounced. If you approach immigration compliance as integral to your everyday activity, and not just something to aim for in the run up to an audit, it will take the pressure off should the Home Office come calling.
For more information about preparing for an immigration audit, visit: