UK employers who hold a Sponsor Licence will be aware that they have certain duties as part of Sponsor Licence Compliance and Audits, which they must adhere to as a sponsor. They will also be aware that they can be audited by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) officials at any point whilst holding a Sponsor Licence to ensure they are complying with their duties as a sponsor, in some cases the UKVI officials will turn up unannounced.
It is important to note that where employers have a client contract and some of their staff are based at client sites, UKVI can also audit their sites to confirm the migrant is working per the details stated on their Certificate of Sponsorship.
As per Paragraph 17.3 of the Tier 2 & 5 guidance:
“We may check sponsors at random. If you are checked, it does not necessarily mean we have doubts about your compliance as a sponsor. We may make these checks before we make a decision on your licence application or after your licence has been granted, during the validity period of your licence. These visits can be announced or unannounced. If your migrant workers perform their employment duties at a third party’s office, it is your responsibility to ensure that the third party is aware of the possibility of unplanned and unannounced visits and checks being conducted at their premises and ensure their full cooperation.”
What would happen during these checks?
As part of sponsor licence compliance and audits, the compliance officers carry out the checks and they may want to:
- Verify any information stated on the sponsor licence application which may include taking photographs of the location and the premises from which the business is being operated.
- Check that employers are complying with all of their sponsor duties, or will be able to comply if they visit before the licence application has been decided.
- Speak to any migrant workers.
- Speak to any of the employees or colleagues involved in the recruitment of migrant workers, inspect records and/or systems to ensure they are following their sponsor obligations and adherence to rules, such as on ‘Record Keeping’ as set out in Appendix D of the guidance for sponsors.
- Conduct checks on other workers to ensure they are complying with their obligation to prevent illegal working in the UK.
If as a UK employer contracting your staff at client premises, you have not already informed your clients of this, then it is advisable that you do so at the earliest and ensure that they are aware of what their responsibilities are and they would need to cooperate fully with UKVI’s officers.
As the visits can be unannounced, your clients might be caught off-guard and worried, therefore prior warning can help them prepare and also benefit your working relationship with them.