Companies embarking on the sponsor licence process must observe a number of legal requirements in relation to the recruitment and onboarding of non-EEA workers under the UK points based system. But the hard work doesn’t stop once the employee is situ. Employers remain subject to ongoing compliance duties requiring continued management and attention. Failure to observe these duties can attract Home Office penalties and impact the company’s ability to employ PBS workers lawfully.
As a UK sponsor licence holder, you operate under a legal requirement to inform the Home Office of certain organisational and employee changes via the online Sponsor Management System (SMS).
UKVI relies on the information held on the SMS to monitor and commuicate with all 27,000+ PBS licence holders, as such, there are penalties for those employers that fail to comply and and fail to keep their records updated.
If you fail to keep your licence up-to-date, the Home Office has powers to downgrade, suspend or revoke your licence. This has the potential to impact your current sponsored migrant employees and your ability to recruit and employ sponsored migrants in future.
If your licence is downgraded you will be required to pay a fee to UKVI for an action plan identifying the issues that you must remedy in order to be upgraded back to A-status.
If your licence is revoked you may be barred from applying for a new licence for a six month ‘cooling off period’.
Tier 2 visa employee document checklist
Your organisation is required to maintain records relating to your PBS workers and their current right to work in the UK documentation, NI numbers (where applicable), history of and up to date contact details.
Retain evidence of the recruitment process for the Tier 2 role and proof of satisfying the Resident Labour Market Test including the advertising campaign, interview notes, list of all applicants and reasons for rejection and references for selected applicant.
Your organisation is required by law to retain the following throughout the duration of employment:
- ID Section of Passport
- Biometric Residence Permit front & back
- NI Number unless they are exempt from requiring one
- Police Registration Certificate if applicable
- Up-to-date contact details, residential address, telephone/mobile number
- Contract of employment
- Summary of the Certificate of Sponsorship
- Copy of the advert for the Resident Labour Market test (if applicable)
- Copy of the UKVI Relevant Code of Practice
- Job description outlining the duties and
- responsibilities of the post including the skills, qualifications and experience required for the post
- Qualifications to confirm the skill level
- Registration and/or professional
- accreditation documents
- Evidence of the shortlisting process your
- company completed prior to the job offer
- Copy of all reports submitted to the Home
- Office regarding change of circumstances
There is no prescribed method for storing the documents. They can be kept either as paper copies or in an electronic format. You must however be able to make the documents available to UKVI on request.
All documents must be kept for whichever is the shorter period of either:
- one year from the date you end your sponsorship of the migrant; or
- if the migrant is no longer sponsored by you, the point at which a compliance officer has examined and approved them.
Sponsor licence holders are legally obliged to retain the following during the duration of employment:
- Copy of pay-slips, clearly showing the name, NI number, tax code and
- any allowances and deductions made
- Records of absences
Tier 2 visa sponsorship duty to reporting & notify
Sponsors are legally required to inform UKVI in writing within 10 working days should any of the following arise:
- Termination of employment
- Any significant changes to the terms of employment such as relocation to another site or division within the company, change in salary, change in working pattern
- Absence without permission for period of 10 days or more
- Any other matter which the sponsor believes may impact on a person’s eligibility to work in the UK
Employee change of circumstances
Track and monitor sponsored individuals, reporting within 10 working days if the sponsored individual:
- fails to start work when expected;
- has 10 days of consecutive unauthorised absence;
- has their contract terminated earlier than expected, i.e. resignation; or
- moves into another immigration category.
You are also required to report to the Home Office any suspicions and evidence that an individual is breaking the conditions of their stay in the UK.
Ensure all PBS employee absences are authorised, including sickness, annual leave, study leave and overseas travel.
If your company has moved address, the Home Office needs to know.
Unannounced site visits remain common, requiring current addresses for immigration enforcement officials to attend and carry out inspections.
Change of Authorising Officer
UKVI see the Authorising Officer as their key point of contact with your company, even if they aren’t involved in the day-to-day work of immigration.
It’s essential that you have an Authorising Officer in place at all times. That means if the current incumbent leaves the company, or relocates overseas, or goes on sabbatical or maternity leave, you need to appoint someone else to fill the role, even where on a temporary basis to ensured continuity of the cover.
Opening or closing a UK branch
Details of UK branches are not published on the SMS. This can make it difficult for employers to keep track of which addresses are in the licence.
Maintaining clear, internal records and making sure these are amended every time a branch is opened or closed is the most effective way to ensure the licence is kept up to date.
Establishing or closing an overseas branch, subsidiary company or linked entity
As with UK branches, overseas branches and subsidiaries are also not viewable on the SMS, making it challenging to know exactly which overseas companies are covered by your licence.
Best practice is to update UKVI each time a linked entity overseas is established or closed.
In any event, you must have informed the Home Office before you can look to transfer an employee from that overseas company to the UK.
For groups that are prolific in opening new overseas branches or companies, programming in the submission of an update to UKVI every quarter, or yearly as appropriate can help to ensure compliance.
Such changes will generally have complex implications for your sponsor licence, for example you may need to submit a new licence application within the 28-day timeframe. We would strongly suggest that you take expert advice on what is needed, at an early a date as possible.
Other significant changes to the company
Takeovers, acquisitions, mergers and TUPE transfers are all examples of significant organisational changes which are to be reported to UKVI usually within 28 days of the change happening.
Do you have a question about Tier 2 visa sponsorship?
Managing Tier 2 licence is complex and the rules are subject to frequent change.
DavidsonMorris are specialists in supporting companies with their sponsor licence application, from eligibility through to ongoing compliance. We can also support with Tier 2 visa applications for your PBS workers.
For advice about your Tier 2 visa sponsor licence or hiring Tier 2 workers, contact us.