UK: Important Sponsor Guidance Amendments

In line with the Government”s recent efforts to tighten immigration policy, the Home Office have published some important amendments to the Tier 2 and 5 Sponsor Guidance which took effect on 19th November 2015.

Whilst there were many updates to the guidance and immigration rules, the key changes relate to the duties which registered sponsors must adhere to in order to remain compliant with Home Office procedures.

In particular, record-keeping is an area which has come under review with extra obligations added to an already extensive list of requirements. This includes retaining a migrant”s travel ticket or boarding card if there is no entry stamp on their clearance visa. In addition to this, sponsors must keep copies of detailed job specifications and any qualifications for all Tier 2 migrants to prove they are qualified for the role, even when a Resident Labour Market Test is not required.

Tier 2 migrants are only able to work in occupations at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level 6 or above unless an exception applies, under the new rules sponsors wishing to extend a migrant”s leave must now add a sponsor note to the Certificate of Sponsorship (COS), to explain how the applicant meets these exceptions.

The changes also include further enforcement powers to the Home Office when conducting an investigation, including the power to take photographs of business premises to retain as evidence, or the power to suspend a sponsor”s licence, pending investigation, where they believe that an assigned role does not meet the genuine vacancy test. 

The Home Office has however, reassured us that minor breaches to the sponsor license will not be automatically suspended but maybe remedied through a prescribed ‘sponsor action plan’. The plan does however carry a cost of £1,476 and sponsors are required to remedy the action plan within a given period of time. 

Being vigilant with immigration reporting and record keeping is therefore key to ensure that a sponsor does not fall foul of the guidance and rules. 

As such, Newland Chase strongly suggests that any outdated immigration procedures are updated as a priority in preparation for a possible audit by the Home Office.

Given the extent of the recent changes, we are happy to consult with clients to provide further information of the above which can include conducting “mock audits” to review current practices and to provide general advice on immigration policy.

Should you need advice or assistance regarding this matter, please contact us.

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