A significant number of care providers have recently had unannounced inspection visits from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). This has led to a number of licences to employ migrants from outside of the European Economic Area and Switzerland being suspended.
Where care providers do not satisfactorily address the reasons for the suspension of a licence, UKVI will proceed to revoke the licence. If this happens, all migrants covered by the licence will have their leave to remain in the UK curtailed and their employment will have to end.
If UKVI identifies instances of unlawful working it can issue civil penalties of up to £20,000 per worker. There is also a risk of criminal prosecution if it finds evidence that a care provider has knowingly misled the UKVI.
We believe that the UKVI investigations have been triggered by concerns that migrants are being employed below the required skill level and/or being paid below what has been stated on their Certificate of Sponsorship. The Certificate of Sponsorship is the document issued to the migrant by the care provider to enable them to obtain a visa. It also confirms that the migrant’s role fits within the immigration rules.
During a compliance visit the UKVI will check whether the care provider has recruited all migrants from outside the Economic Area and Switzerland properly and whether it has complied with its sponsorship duties. Together with other items, UKTI will check the following:
- Recruitment records: for example, evidence relating to the care provider’s attempts to recruit suitable UK resident staff before opting to sponsor a migrant (ie the Resident Labour Market Test)
- that a history of contact details for each migrant is retained by the care provider
- that changes relating to the migrant have been reported to the UKVI through the Sponsor Management System. Sponsors have a duty to notify the UKVI using this online system within 10 days of specified changes affecting sponsored migrants. For example, if their employment finishes or their job title changes.
Care providers should review their records to ensure that they are complying fully with all of their obligations.