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Tier 2 and Tier 5 Sponsors: your sponsorship duties simplified

Your sponsorship duties may seem onerous however with a little care, there really is no reason to be caught short during your UKVI inspections.  Failure to meet your sponsorship duties can lead to your licence being downgraded, suspended or at worst, revoked.  Having done the hard work in obtaining your licence, we at Axiom Stone can help you to continue to meet your requirements, thus allowing you to focus more time on your business.

As a start, you have a duty to comply with the UK immigration rules. The over-arching principles here are:

  1. you must provide a genuine vacancy which requires the employee to perform specific duties and responsibilities for the job which meets all of the requirements of the tier and category; and,
  2. you must employ migrants who are qualified, registered or experienced to do the job.

Some benefits of immigration

Sponsors can benefit from immigration; some of the widely regarded key benefits are:

  • the ability to recruit workers from outside the EEA may allow you to attract the right talent;
  • diversifying the workforce can offer different skills and experiences;
  • hiring employees who speak multiple languages can allow a company to grow.

The purpose of your sponsorship duties

In light of these benefits, it is no surprise that the UKVI places significant trust in sponsors to ensure that they are complying with their sponsorship duties.  Broadly speaking, the aims of these duties are:

  • to ensure compliance with the immigration rules;
  • prevent abuse;
  • capture early signs of suspicious migrant behaviour;
  • identify any weaknesses.

What happens after a licence is granted?

After a licence is granted, you will be set up on the sponsorship management system (SMS) which is an online tool that allows you to carry out your day-to-day sponsorship duties and activities.  These include assigning certificates of sponsorship (CoS) for migrants and confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) for students and reporting any changes as discussed below.

Appointing key personnel

You must appoint key personnel who must be based permanently in the UK, meet the requirements on criminal convictions and be an employee unless there is an exception.

There are 4 distinct roles which can be filled by the same person or a combination of different people.  They are effectively:

  1. The Authorising Officer – This is your most senior person responsible for the recruitment of migrant workers who ensures that your sponsor duties are met.  They are also responsible for the activities of all sponsorship management system (SMS) users.
  1. Key Contact – The key contact is the main contact for the UKVI who will be approached in the event of any queries, if the UKVI requires further documents or information.  They do not have automatic access to the sponsorship management system (SMS); if they require access to the system, they will need to be set up as a level 1 or level 2 user.
  1. Level 1 User – The level 1 user can be the authorising officer or another person in your organisation.  They must carry out your day-to-day sponsorship activities using the sponsorship management system (SMS). The UKVI will perform checks on new level 1 users before they give them access to the sponsorship management system (SMS).
  1. Level 2 User – Level 2 users on the other hand have fewer permissions than level 1 users.  They can assign certificates of sponsorship (CoS) to workers and report employee activity to the UKVI, for example, if an employee goes missing or does not come to work.

With these distinct functions in mind, the starting point is to ensure that you have undertaken checks to make certain that your key personnel are competent in carrying out their respective roles as taking this lightly may create problems for you.

Record-keeping duties

Next, you must keep and store specific documentation to show compliance of the immigration rules in what immigration lawyers refer to as ‘record-keeping duties’.  These documents are vast and may vary from Tier-to-Tier however here at Axiom Stone, we will be able to advise you on what documents need to be kept as part of your sponsorship duties.

Reporting duties

Then, there are ‘reporting duties’, where the onus is on you to report migrant workers within 10 working days under a defined set of circumstances. Some examples are:

  • where the employee is absent for more than 10 consecutive days
  • where he or she does not turn up to their first day of work
  • if the contract should terminate before the agreed date
  • any significant changes such as changes in the core duties and job title

Cooperation with the UKVI

This is key to ensuring a friction-free process for both you and your employees. You must allow the UKVI access to your business premises at any time and such visits may be unannounced.  Cooperation includes your acceptable behaviour on premises.

If a UKVI inspection has resulted in your licence being downgraded to a B licence, then they will set out an action plan which is likely to temporarily set out extra duties.  In order that you may retain your licence, you must improve your performance to be upgraded to an A-rated licence, or risk losing your licence altogether.

Summary

In conclusion, the UKVI prides itself on enforcing its rules with conviction and, as a sponsor, you should be looking to meet these rules with the same conviction.  The duties may seem extensive but meeting these duties is far less onerous than allowing yourself to become subject to an action plan at a time when your business is likely to have other priorities. It is crucial to be prepared, particularly in this ever-evolving immigration environment.

Should you require further clarity or wish to enquire about how we can help you through the application and UKVI inspection process, please do not hesitate to contact our highly experienced team of immigration lawyers at Axiom Stone.

Selena Bawa – Head of Immigration