The Home Affairs Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Home Office and its associated public bodies.

On 25 March 2013, the Committee published its 14th report entitled: 'The work of the UK Border Agency (July-September 2102)'.  The report noted:

  • 31% of follow-up visits to Tier 2 sponsors were unannounced in Q3 2012, a decrease from 42% in the previous quarter;
  • 30% of follow-up visits to Tier 4 sponsors were unannounced in Q3 2012, a decrease from 36% in the previous quarter; and
  • 11% of follow-up visits to Tier 5 sponsors were unannounced in Q3 2012, a decrease from 33% in the previous quarter.

The Committee was concerned that the proportion of post-licence visits which were unannounced was declining in all Tiers.  The Committee reiterated its previous recommendation that the majority of post-licence visits should be unannounced as this ensures that the enforcement system is both rigorous and gives the public confidence that the government is cracking down on illegal immigration.

Please click here to view the full report.

Points-Based Sponsors can be visited by Immigration Officers at any time.  All sponsors must ensure that they have the records and procedures in place to meet their sponsor duties and comply with the immigration requirements.  As the first batch of sponsors renew their licences, we note that more compliance visits are being carried out.  These visits are set to continue and it has been hinted to some of our clients that annual checks will be made moving forward.  Even those who have been visited before may face revisits as the Home Office ensures that sponsors are complying with their obligations throughout their time as sponsors.

Our compliance team has seen an increased level of requests for sponsor compliance health checks as more unannounced visits are carried out by the Home Office.

Non-compliance could lead to heavy fines, prosecution or suspension/revocation of the sponsorship licence.  Even a short-term downgrading of the licence can cause reputational damage, add extra costs to the organisation, and delay any further plans for transferring expats or recruiting international students to the UK.