More onerous duties imposed on employers who sponsor employees on Tier 2 visas
12 January 2016
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have recently made changes to the Tier 2 and 5 sponsor guidance published on its website. UKVI already imposes onerous obligations on employers who sponsor employees who are from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) on Tier 2 visas. The changes, which mostly take effect from 19 November 2015, introduced more onerous reporting and record-keeping obligations and tougher sanctions for employers who don’t meet these to UKVI’s satisfaction:
- UKVI now recommends that, as a minimum, the Authorising Officer (who is responsible for the sponsor licence) checks the Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned to sponsored employees on a monthly basis. This appears to be addressing the issue that many authorising officers are very senior and aren’t involved in the day-to-day management of the sponsored employees. We recommend that some record is kept of these checks to demonstrate compliance at an audit.
- There are more onerous record-keeping duties – sponsors will need to ensure they keep any DBS checks (if needed) on file, as well as a detailed job description for each post you have filled with a sponsored employee and references as evidence of the employee’s previous experience if they are appointed on the basis of this experience.
- Sponsors must now inform UKVI if they assign a CoS to someone who is a family member of someone in the sponsor organisation if they are a small or medium sized business, or if they are aware of a family relationship within a large organisation.
- For sponsors who wish to sponsor employees to work in a role on the shortage occupation list, they will need to qualify to sponsor them and be required to keep more information showing that the jobs and employees qualify for the shortage occupation classification.
- If UKVI refuses a Tier 2 visa on the basis that they don’t consider the vacancy to be genuine UKVI can suspend your licence while they investigate, during which it you won’t be able to assign any certificates of sponsorship and your licence could be downgraded or revoked.
We are increasingly seeing enhanced scrutiny of sponsors by UKVI including an increasing number of unannounced visits. If you have a sponsor licence we recommend that you carry out an internal audit of your personnel files for Tier 2 workers at least every 6 months to check you are prepared for a UKVI visit. If you are interested in us carrying out a mock audit to review how compliant your organisation is free to get in touch.
Clarkslegal, specialist Immigration lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
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