How An Immigration Audit Can Safeguard Your Sponsor Licence
When you first apply for a sponsor licence, you will need to show that you are capable of meeting your sponsor duties. Once you have been granted a sponsor licence, you will need to make sure that you are continuing to comply with the duties and responsibilities as a licensed sponsor.
The Home Office may carry out an inspection before your sponsor licence application is approved or once your sponsor licence has been granted and prior to its expiry date. As the compliance visit may be on an announced or unannounced basis, an immigration audit is effective in getting your business ready.
In this post, we look at what an immigration audit is and how our immigration barristers can help in conducting an immigration audit of your business. We will also talk about the Home Office inspection and the consequences of failing an inspection.
What Is an Immigration Audit?
An immigration audit is a mock exercise of checking your human resource system, policies and documents to ensure that you are ready for a Home Office compliance visit. The Home Office explains that a compliance visit is “Where we visit you to perform a compliance check. This includes visiting any branches or sites under your control, or any relevant client site or third party where your sponsored workers will be working.”
What Triggers a Home Office Inspection?
When making a decision on your sponsor licence application, the Home Office may conduct an inspection to see whether you have a robust HR system to meet your sponsor duties and any information given in your sponsor licence application is accurate.
Post licence visit
During the validity period of your sponsor licence, the Home Office may carry out an inspection. This is to check that you are continuing to comply with your sponsor duties and that you are a genuine company operating or trading lawfully in the UK.
Home Office’s Compliance Visit
During the compliance visit, the Home Office may look into the following areas:
Reporting duties: They may ask to see whether you have made the correct reports within the time limits following any changes in the sponsored worker’s circumstances.
Record-keeping duties: They will request to see the documents held for the sponsored workers, which include checking whether the records required in Appendix D are kept.
Complying with immigration laws: Documentation such as application forms and job descriptions may be requested to see that the sponsored workers are qualified or experienced to undertake the role.
Complying with wider UK law: They will check whether any workers are working illegally. Our blog, Immigration Right to Work Checks Guidance looks at the nature and scope of an employer’s duty to conduct right to work checks.
Interviews: interviewing sponsored workers and anyone involved in the recruitment;
As part of the inspection, the Home Office may also check with other government departments.
The Advantages of Our Immigration Audit
It is important that your business is ready for a compliance visit and that you can meet your sponsor duties in order to continue to sponsor any current or future migrants.
The main advantage of having an immigration audit is that you will have the invaluable knowledge of our immigration barristers, who are fully aware of the rules and will be able to update you on any new and updated requirements. Having policies and systems that are up-to-date will assist compliance with duties.
A mock interview with the sponsored workers and relevant employees will get them ready. A look at the HR system will also ensure that the correct right to work checks are continued to be carried out correctly and your reporting duties are done within the time limit.
Following the immigration audit, any potential areas of non-compliance may be identified and recommendations can be provided. An immigration audit will help to reduce any compliance risk.
What Are the Consequences of Failing a Home Office Inspection?
If you fail to comply with your sponsorship duties once your sponsor licence has been granted, the Home Office may take the following actions against you:
Downgrade your licence to a B-rating
What this means: an action plan will be introduced for you to comply with within a certain period of time. There is a fee to be paid and no new workers can be sponsored until your A-rating has been regained.
What you can do: You can adhere to the action plan and improve your performance within the specified time limit, not exceeding 3 months.
What happens next: At the end of the period, a further compliance check will be carried out to see whether all the requirements of the action plan have been met. As set out in our post, Sponsor Licence Suspended – What’s Next, “You can only be B-rated and subject to an action plan for a maximum of:
- 3 months at any one time in respect of any single action plan; or
- Twice during the validity period of the licence.”
Suspend your licence
What this means: No Certificate of Sponsorship can be assigned during the suspension period. Your current sponsored workers will not be affected unless the Home Office decides to revoke your licence.
What can you do: You will be given 20 working days from the Home Office suspension letter to respond. We discussed what to do when the sponsor licence is suspended in our post Sponsor Licence Suspended – What To Do Now.
What happens next: Your licence may be reinstated as an A-rating or a B-rating. With a B-rating, you must comply with an action plan.
Revoke your licence
What this means: If your licence is revoked, you will not be able to sponsor any more workers. Any current sponsored workers’s permission will normally be cancelled.
What can you do: You are normally not allowed to apply again for a sponsor licence until at least 12 months (in some circumstances it may be longer) have passed from the date of revocation.
What happens next: If your sponsor licence is revoked, all your sponsored workers will be notified. Their remaining permission may be cancelled or shortened to 60 calendar days left.
When Is the Right Time to Request an Immigration Audit?
It may be time to request an immigration audit to ensure that you continue to be compliant if:
- You have never been inspected by the Home Office;
- You are preparing to renew your sponsor licence and have never been inspected by the Home Office;
- Your licence has been downgraded;
- Any changes in the organisation, such as your organisation is being taken over or merged into another organisation;
- You have received notification of a Home Office inspection;
Contact Our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance in relation to Sponsor Licence applications and Immigration Audits, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via the enquiry form below.