During the last lockdown, UKVI once again suspended sponsor compliance visits. It is about to resume them, starting with pre-licence reviews where a sponsor licence application has been on hold. Here we consider what UKVI may look at during the visit.
Once an organisation has applied to UKVI for a sponsor licence, UKVI may decide to undertake a compliance visit prior to making a decision on the application. Whilst a compliance visit can be unannounced, most organisations will receive prior notice. When an organisation applies for a sponsor licence, it is agreeing to comply with a number of duties, as set out in the Sponsor Guidance. It is also agreeing to allow UKVI’s staff access to ‘any premises or site under your control’.
What will be assessed during a visit?
When carrying out a pre-licence compliance visit, UKVI’s officers will check a number of key areas such as:
- the organisation has a genuine need for a sponsor licence;
- the necessary human resource systems are in place which will allow the organisation to carry out its sponsor duties;
- right to work checks have been conducted in accordance with Home Office guidance;
- the number of migrants that are to be sponsored is appropriate for the size and the nature of the organisation;
- whether there is any evidence to suggest that the organisation would pose a threat to immigration control;
- the organisation will be able to genuinely offer employment that meets the sponsor licence requirements at the correct skill and pay level;
- any documents submitted in support of the sponsor licence application are genuine and that all information provided was accurate; and
- anything else that UKVI feels needs to be explored further.
How will a compliance visit be carried out?
During a pre-licence compliance visit, UKVI’s officers will want to interview those who were named on the sponsor licence application, in particular, the authorising officer.
Questions may be asked in relation to any recruitment process that has been carried out and in relation to any role that is to be filled by a sponsored worker.
In addition, UKVI’s officers will want to be sure that the authorising officer is aware of the sponsor duties and has relevant systems in place to ensure that these are complied with.
UKVI’s officers should not ask any non-immigration related questions.
What happens after a visit?
Following the compliance visit, UKVI will decide whether to approve or refuse the sponsor licence application.
Should the sponsor licence application be refused, there is no right of appeal but an ‘error correction’ request can be made if the refusal was a result of a caseworker’s error. In some cases a refusal can mean that the organisation is subject to a six month cooling off period prior to being able to reapply.
How our immigration solicitors can help
The above are just some of the key areas that will be reviewed during a pre-licence compliance visit.
We are experienced in helping organisations meet their sponsor duties and we also offer compliance reviews. If you have any concerns regarding a failure in compliance our team would be pleased to assist and can be contacted here. Alternatively, please complete our enquiry form below.