A sponsor licence compliance mock audit replicates what happens in a real onsite sponsor licence compliance visit by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and is often carried out by a third-party specialist such as an immigration Solicitor. Most importantly, because it is only a mock audit, any problems that are identified will not lead to your sponsor licence being downgraded, suspended or revoked. Rather you will have the opportunity to fix any issues that are discovered before you receive a live visit from UKVI. As a sponsor licence holder, you know that you may receive a compliance visit from a UKVI officer, but you may not necessarily know when. Third-party mock audits provide reassurance that should you receive a compliance visit, you will always “pass with flying colours”.
What does a sponsor licence compliance mock inspection involve?
Mock audits replicate an actual visit from a UKVI compliance officer. Ideally, these should be carried out periodically and regularly to ensure that your business remains compliant at all times. While mock audits are most commonly carried out for compliance assessments for businesses with a sponsor licence, they can also be carried out before a pre-licence assessment. Pre-compliance assessments are carried out before you are granted a sponsor licence when UKVI check that you have the necessary systems and processes in place to become a sponsor.
A sponsor licence mock audit may involve checking the following:
- Your HR systems to ensure you are meeting your sponsor duties
- Whether you pose a threat to immigration control
- Whether the workers or students you sponsor are complying with the conditions of their leave to stay in the UK
- Whether your business still has a trading presence
- Whether you have been sponsoring overseas nationals to fill genuine vacancies and they meet the requirements of their immigration route (e.g. they have the necessary skills and are being paid in accordance with the minimum income requirements)
When it comes to checking whether you are meeting your sponsor duties, a mock audit will look at whether you are fulfilling your reporting and record-keeping duties, you are complying with the UK’s immigration law and wider UK law, and you are not engaging in behaviour or actions that are considered not conducive to the public good.
Checking if you are meeting your sponsorship reporting duties
The reporting duties require that you inform UKVI of certain changes within 10 days (e.g. if a sponsored individual does not start working for you) or 20 days (e.g. if you change your business name). The person carrying out the mock audit will check if any of the changes that must be reported have occurred and, if so if these were reported via the SMS in the required time.
Checking if you are meeting your sponsorship record-keeping duties
Sponsors are required to keep records relating to the sponsorship of workers and students. For example, for each sponsored worker, you are required to carry out a right-to-work check and keep records that you have done this (e.g. a copy of a worker’s visa and biometric residence permit). You are also required to keep records of their skills/qualifications, date of entry to the UK, national insurance number, salary paid, previous and current addresses and contact details, absences, and copies of endorsement letters (this list is not exhaustive). A mock compliance audit may involve asking for access to the records of sponsored workers to check that all of the information held is complete and up to date.
Sponsor licence mock audits are rather like insurance policies as they provide peace of mind that you are covered in the event of a real-life UKVI compliance audit. Having a third-party carry out your mock audits provides the additional reassurance that the checking process has been carried out by a person who is independent of your business and, hence is likely to be less prone to bias and will fully report any problems discovered. In addition, because immigration Solicitors are well-versed in the compliance process, they will spot any problems that may have gone unnoticed, and they can provide clear guidance on how to resolve them in the most effective manner.
Garth Coates is a leading niche immigration firm based in the heart of London, specialising in all forms of personal and business immigration, including visas, global mobility, sponsorship and compliance, settlement, and citizenship. To discuss how our sponsor licence mock audit service can give you peace of mind, please contact one of our friendly and approachable immigration Solicitors on Tel: +44 (0)20 7799 1600 or by completing our online contact form.