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If you are a sponsor licence holder, you will be inspected by the Home Office at some point during the validity period of your licence.  This is to make sure that the information you gave as part of your sponsor licence application is accurate and that you are able and continuing to comply with the duties and responsibilities of a licensed sponsor. UKVI may also visit your business premises to carry out checks before a decision on your sponsor licence application is made.  

Our immigration barristers can draw on their experience of Home Office compliance requirements to conduct an immigration audit of your business ahead of any Home Office inspection.

What happens during a Home Office compliance visit?

When UKVI compliance officers visit your business premises they will check that:

  • Information that has been given to UKVI is accurate and complete
  • You are able to offer employment at the Skilled Worker skill level
  • You are genuine and trading or operating lawfully in the UK
  • There are no reasons to believe you represent a threat to immigration control
  • You are committed to, and actually are, complying with all the duties of sponsorship

You can expect your record keeping, reporting and immigration status monitoring processes and documentation to be reviewed in order to ensure that you remain compliant.

The compliance officer may not give an indication of their assessment or your ability to comply with sponsor duties during the visit.

What else do I need to know about sponsor compliance visits?

The Home Office may check sponsors at random. 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.

If the compliance officers discover a problem before making a decision on your sponsor licence application then the application may be refused.

If the compliance officers find discrepancies in your application after a decision has already been made to grant or renew your sponsor licence, they will take action against you. This could result in your licence being revoked, suspended, or downgraded, with repercussions for sponsored employees.

The ratings of all licensed sponsors are on the Home Office website. A downgrade could result in negative publicity and reputational damage.

If the Home Office considers that you have attempted deception in your sponsor licence application then this could result in prosecution.

How an immigration audit by our immigration barristers can help

Our immigration barristers can draw on their experience of Home Office compliance requirements to conduct a mock immigration audit of your business in advance of any Home Office inspection.

Offering invaluable insights into Home Office practice and procedure, an immigration audit by our barristers will ensure that you, as a sponsor, are operating in compliance with the Government’s immigration compliance regime and are well prepared for a Home Office visit.

During our mock immigration audit, a specialist business immigration barrister will:

  • Verify information that you gave on your sponsor licence application
  • Check your document management and record-keeping systems to ensure that you are complying with all of your sponsor duties (or will be able to comply if your licence application has not yet been decided)
  • Review the personnel files of any sponsored migrants to identify any deficiencies and areas for improvement
  • Interview any of your employees involved in the recruitment of migrant workers to prepare them for the type of questions that a Home Office inspector is likely to ask
  • Speak to any migrant workers to determine whether they are familiar with the terms and conditions of their UK visas
  • Conduct checks on other workers to ensure you are complying with your obligation to prevent illegal working

Following our mock immigration audit, you will receive a comprehensive written report prepared by the immigration barrister who conducted the audit identifying risk areas and providing expert recommendations for improvement.

If required, we can undertake a follow-up immigration audit to further assess any changes that have been implemented.

We can also assist with

  • Sponsor Licence Applications

    If you are an employer seeking to employ an overseas national who is not a settled worker and who does not otherwise have immigration permission to work for you in the UK, you will need to submit a Sponsor Licence Application to UK Visas and Immigration.

    Whether you require advice on the correct company-related documentation to provide in support of a sponsor licence application or assistance with drafting a compelling business case that will satisfy UKVI that you need a sponsor licence in order to fill a genuine role, our immigration barristers can manage the sponsor licence application process on your behalf

  • Sponsor Licence Renewals

    The requirement to renew Sponsor Licences every four years was abolished on 6 April 2024.

    Prior to this date, Sponsor Licences were only valid for four years.  If licence holders wished to keep their licence beyond four years, they had to make a paid renewal application.

    From 6 April 2024, Sponsor Licence holders are no longer required to make a renewal application every four years or pay a renewal fee.  Instead, the expiry date of all sponsor licences has been automatically extended by the Home Office to expire in 10 years’ time.

    This change applies to all sponsor licences that are due to expire on or after 6 April 2024, and not only to new licences obtained after this date.  The extension of the expiry date is automatic and Sponsors do not need to take any action.

    Sponsors should, however, be aware that the Home Office is continuing to conduct compliance audits on an announced and unannounced basis. If UKVI compliance officers have any concerns about your actions as a sponsor then they may downgrade or revoke your licence. Sponsors should therefore continue to ensure that their record keeping and HR systems are up to date to ensure that they are complying with the sponsor licence duties, in case of an audit.

    If your sponsor licence is nearing its 10 year expiry date then our immigration barristers can assist you to renew your licence.

    Our immigration barristers are also well versed in the duties and responsibilities of licensed sponsors, including reporting duties, record-keeping duties and wider UK immigration law compliance duties.  We work closely with businesses to ensure that their HR and record-keeping processes are robust and can help to design and audit current right to work checks in the workplace. We can simplify the process for you and help to protect you and your business from any immigration compliance issues.

  • Sponsor Licence Suspensions and Revocations

    If UKVI believe that you are breaching your duties and pose a threat to immigration control, your sponsor licence may be suspended. If you are subject to a Sponsor Licence Suspension you will not be able to sponsor new migrants, but your current sponsored migrants will be unaffected. UKVI may then reinstate your licence, downgrade it or revoke it.

    If you are failing to meet your sponsor duties in a serious way or stop operating in the UK, your licence will be revoked. If you are subject to a Sponsor Licence Revocation, any migrants you sponsor will have their leave curtailed. They will be given 60 calendar days to find alternative sponsorship or leave the UK.

    Our immigration barristers work with sponsors to secure reinstatement of their sponsor licences, ensuring that a robust case is presented to UKVI addressing any issues raised in suspension letters. If a decision has been taken to revoke a sponsor licence, our immigration barristers can advise on the merits of applying for Judicial Review of the revocation decision and, where appropriate, provide representation in Judicial Review proceedings.

  • Sponsor Licence Refusals

    There is no right of appeal against the refusal of an application for a sponsor licence.

    If the Sponsor Licence Refusal decision was the result of either a caseworker error or the result of supporting evidence sent as part of your application not being considered by UKVI then our immigration barristers can assist you to request that the error be corrected and, if appropriate, submit a new online sponsor licence application.

    If the decision to refuse your sponsor licence application was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper, our immigration barristers can apply for Judicial Review and provide representation at Judicial Review hearings.

    We also assist employers to prepare fresh applications for sponsor licences following previous refusal decisions.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting with one of our immigration barristers, contact our business immigration team on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form.

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