28 February 2021
Most business owners understand that from 1 January 2020, if they want to recruit talent from the EU/EEA they will need a UK Sponsor Licence. However, successfully obtaining a Sponsor Licence is only the beginning of the process.
There are several duties and responsibilities which must be complied with to ensure you retain the ability to employ EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA, workers. These include:
- Correctly using the Sponsor Management System
- Reporting and recording duties
The Sponsor Management System
The Sponsor Management System (SMS) is an online tool that allows employers to administer aspects of their UK Sponsor Licence. If you are a licence holder, you must understand how SMS works. You must also have a dedicated Level 1 user who operates the system and updates information when necessary.
The SMS should be used for:
- managing your key personnel and licence details
- creating, assigning, and viewing CAS/CoS
- applying for and assigning restricted CoS
- reporting activities relating to your sponsored workers and/or students
- renewing your allocations and applying for additional CoS and/or CAS
- applying for Premium customer service (if desired)
- applying for Tier 4 sponsor status
- tracking Premium, HTS and licence renewal applications
- paying for and tracking the progress of action plans
Once your Sponsor Licence is approved, your login details will be sent via post to the Authorising Officer. The password is sent directly to the Level 1 user by email. It is the responsibility of the Authorising Officer to provide the login details to the Level 1 user.
Once you have been granted a Sponsor Licence, you can request additional SMS users through the system. It is recommended you have at least one other user (who will be known as a Level 2 user) who can cover if the Level 1 user is on holiday or sick.
It is important to check your licence details regularly to ensure they are correct. If your business changes its address or phone number, you need to submit a request to change the information.
Reporting and recording duties
You must report to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) in writing within 10 working days if a migrant employee:
- leaves your employment
- changes employment locations or has a change of role or salary within the company
- is absent from work without permission for 10 or more days
- is the subject of any other circumstances that may affect their ability to legally work in the UK
You must also report to UKVI if the migrant employee does not turn up for work on the first day, moves to another immigration category, or resigns or is dismissed from your employment.
Keeping accurate records is a key part of your Sponsor Licence duties. You need to keep copies of the following for all migrant employees:
- the sponsored migrant’s passport, including the pages which contain the personal details, visa details, and immigration status
- biometric details
- full details of the Resident Labour Market Test (if one needed to be conducted)
- NI numbers and DBS checks
- current and previous address and contact details
- each migrant employee’s contract of employment and job description
- a record of absences from work
Records must be kept up until a compliance officer has examined and approved them or one year from the date your sponsorship of the migrant ends, whichever is shorter.
It is crucial to note that the above does not constitute an exhaustive list of Sponsor Licence compliance requirements. Furthermore, compliance duties can change with little notice or publicity. UKVI may undertake an unannounced compliance visit on your premises at any time during the life of your Sponsor Licence. If you are unable to produce the required records or have not kept up with reporting duties, your licence may be suspended. For more serious compliance failures, such as the UKVI officers discovering that you have employees who have no legal right to work in the UK (because their leave to remain has expired) your licence may be revoked.
To ensure you remain compliant and are aware of any changes in the law, it is best to work with an experienced immigration lawyer. That way, you can be confident that you are meeting your Sponsor Licence compliance duties and will have no fear of an unexpected UKVI compliance visit.