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