As we have previously outlined, in November 2015 the Home Office made a number of changes to the compliance regime for Tier 2 sponsor licence holders. The sponsor licence guidance sets out the rules that each sponsor must follow in order to remain compliant and maintain their licence. Registered sponsor licence holders are expected to change their processes immediately to adapt to the new provisions. Failure to do so could result in the Home Office taking action against a sponsor, including downgrading or even revoking the sponsor licence.
Additional key changes have occurred which Sponsor Licence holders should keep in mind:
1. Sponsors must provide the National Insurance number of each of their key personnel, if they have one, when applying for a license and when changing key personnel or adding new ones.
2. New recommendation that, as a minimum, the authorising officer (AO) checks the CoS assigned to sponsored migrants on a monthly basis”this is to check the activities of the Sponsor Management System (SMS) users, for whom the AO is responsible. Further, it would be advisable for a record of these checks to be retained, together with any other records which form part of the AO’s processes for monitoring compliance with the SMS requirements.
3. New Annex 8 has been added, to provide further clarification on the implication on sponsor licences of various types of mergers and takeovers, and to give additional guidance on the relevant procedures.
- Where a sponsor changes ownership as part of a group restructure, what matters is whether the company”s immediate owner changes; if it does, the sponsor will certainly be required to obtain a new licence. If the change of ownership is to a business at least one removed in a chain of ownership and the terms and conditions of the workers are unchanged, it is possible the licence can be retained, however the appropriate reports must be made to UKVI via the SMS.
- Where a company”s immediate owner changes, and in any other circumstances where the majority number of shares in the organisation have been sold but the employer has not changed, a new licence will typically be required, but the sponsored employees may not be required to make a change of employment application. It essential that the exact circumstances of the merger/ takeover are made clear to UKVI when reporting to ensure the changes are processed correctly.
4. New general requirement to keep references as evidence of the migrant’s previous experience if they are appointed on the basis of this experience.
We recommend an annual training plan is put in place to ensure all regulatory and policy changes are captured, discussed and where necessary implemented in a timely and compliant manner. Furthermore we strongly recommend sponsors carry out a regular audit of personnel records to ensure the requisite data is retained and that all migrant and sponsor change of circumstances reporting is up to date.
Please contact us if you have any queries regarding the changes.