Personal Immigration
Business Immigration

Tier 2 and 5 Sponsor Licenses: Home Office Visits

The Home Office has recently been increasing the number of Sponsor Licence visits they are making. If you have made a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Application and/or a Tier 5 Sponsor Licence application, or if you already hold a Sponsor Licence, the Home Office may visit your business premises to ensure you can meet, or are meeting, your sponsor duties.

The consequences of failing to demonstrate to the Home Office that you can meet your sponsor duties at the visit are serious. If you are a new applicant your application will be refused, or your Sponsor Licence may be downgraded, suspended or revoked. This may mean that any migrants you currently sponsor have to leave the UK.

How To Prepare

The visit may be unannounced, so you should be confident that your organisation would pass its visit at any time.

You should ensure that:

  • Your key personnel (Authorising Officer, Key Contact and Level 1 User) are available for the visit. If they are unavailable and the visit is unannounced the Home Office may arrange a second visit;
  • Your key personnel are familiar with the sponsor guidance and are aware of all your sponsor duties;
  • Your key personnel understand their role, duties and obligations;
  • The files for your sponsored migrants are organised, complete and documents within them are clearly labelled and easy to find;
  • Your key personnel understand how your HR and migrant compliance systems work and are able to demonstrate their use;
  • You have notified your sponsored migrants that the Home Office may wish to interview them as part of the process.

What will happen

Compliance officers will visit your premises and check that you are meeting, or able to meet, your sponsor duties. Key personnel will be interviewed to ensure that they are aware of the sponsor duties.

During the Sponsor Licence visit the compliance officers will make an assessment of your trading presence to ensure you do or can provide work that meets the requirements of the Immigration Rules.

The compliance officers will then make two types of compliance checks:

  • Human resource compliance checks. These checks confirm that you can meet your duties as a Tier 2 Sponsor or a Tier 5 Sponsor;
  • Migrant compliance checks. This is where the compliance officers check the sponsorship of individual migrants to check their sponsorship meets the relevant requirements.

If you are already a sponsor, the compliance officers will interview at least 3 sponsored migrants to ensure the work they are undertaking is as specified on their Certificate. The compliance officers will sample documents relating to at least 3-10% of your sponsored migrants, depending on your organisation’s size.

What the Home Office want to see

If you have made a new application for a Sponsor Licence the compliance officers want to see that:

  • You have the necessary HR systems in place to ensure you can carry your duties as a Tier 2 Sponsor and/or a Tier 5 Sponsor.
  • The number of migrants you want to sponsor is appropriate to the size and nature of your organisation.
  • You will not pose a threat to immigration control.
  • You can satisfy the genuine vacancy test, if you want to sponsor migrants for a Tier 2 (General) visa.

If you already hold a Sponsor Licence the compliance officers will assess:

  • Your HR systems and if you are meeting your Sponsor duties.
  • Whether you or your activities pose a threat to immigration control.
  • If the original number of migrants requested on your sponsor application or annual allocation request is still relevant or valid.
  • If migrants working with you are complying with the conditions of their leave to stay in the UK.
  • If you continue to have a trading presence.
  • If any migrants you have sponsored under Tier 2 (General) were recruited to fill a genuine vacancy meeting Tier 2 skill level requirements in respect of skill and pay.

You will need to show that you keep records of, or are capable of keeping records of, documents that will establish you are meeting your Sponsor Duties. This includes the documents that you must keep according to Appendix D of the Sponsor Guidance.

After the visit

The compliance officers will write a report. You have a right to request a copy of the report. They will write to you to inform you of the decision and to confirm which documents you may destroy from a sponsor licensing perspective. You should be aware that you may need to keep these documents for other reasons, such as evidencing right to work checks have taken place.

If you do not yet have a Sponsor Licence then the application will either be granted or refused.

If you already have a Sponsor Licence then your Sponsor Licence will either be maintained with its A-rating, downgraded to a B-rating, suspended or revoked.

If your Sponsor Licence is downgraded to a B-rating then you must improve your performance enough to be upgraded to an A-rating within a period not exceeding three months. You will be given an action plan with set terms of how you can improve your performance and you will be required to pay a fee. You will be visited again at the end of your action plan.

Contact Us

For advice or assistance in relation to a Sponsor Licence application or preparing for a Sponsor Licence visit, contact our specialist business immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or by email to


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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