UKVI compliance visits to organisations that hold a Tier 2 sponsor licence have increased significantly in recent years.
Completing the following five point check list will help sponsors that receive a UKVI compliance visit to achieve a positive outcome:
1. Review your records
This may seem like a simple step but sponsors regularly fail to produce relevant documents to UKVI officers when they visit and that can of itself be classed as a breach. The officer will want to see the files of sponsored workers and it is essential that those files contain the documents referred to in Appendix D of the Sponsor Guidance. Do take a moment to ensure that you would be able to produce Appendix D documents if UKVI decided to visit you in the next few days and do also flick through the file and check that information that would be handed to UKVI would help – not harm – your position as a sponsor.
2. Check your HR systems and policies
UKVI officers will check if you have a suitable system in place to monitor sponsored workers and to check that all workers have permission to work in the UK. A sponsor has a duty to monitor and report certain matters including sponsored workers’ absences, role and salary changes, organisation changes including a changes of address etc. Reports must usually be made via the Sponsor Management System within a specific time frame (usually 10 working days). It is therefore important that both sponsored workers and key staff members are aware of these requirements. The company’s policies should be reviewed and updated regularly and, crucially, key staff involved in compliance and sponsored employees should know what they say.
3. Be ready for the genuine vacancy test
During a visit compliance officers will want to be satisfied that Tier 2 sponsored workers are actually performing the duties as referred to on the CoS. In many cases, they have asked to see not only evidence that a fully compliant test of the resident labour market was performed (where required by the rules) but also that the vacancy itself was genuine (i.e. the position was not created purely for the purposes of employing a specific migrant worker). Sometimes they will ask to interview the sponsored worker in detail about their role and they can also ask to see evidence of projects the worker has worked on etc.
4. Keep up to date
In R (on the application of New London College Ltd) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 51, the Supreme Court found that the system of sponsorship was lawful despite recognising that:
‘The Sponsor Guidance is a large and detailed document issued on behalf of the Secretary of State, which may be amended at any time and has in fact been amended with bewildering frequency’.
UKVI recommends that sponsors access the Sponsor Management System at least on a monthly basis to ensure that key dates are not overlooked and that changes to the sponsor are reported to UKVI as required in the guidance. We also strongly recommend that sponsors review the Sponsor Guidance at least every month to ensure that they are compliant.
5. Practice makes perfect
We recommend that key personnel within the sponsor carry out internal checks to ensure that the organisation is compliant with the Sponsor Guidance and the rules on preventing illegal working.
Tier 2 sponsors that complete our five point check list will be more likely to achieve a positive outcome in the event of a UKVI compliance visit.
UKVI compliance visit: How we can help
We offer a number of compliance review options for sponsors and if you would like further information, please contact us.