So, you have officially submitted your sponsor licence application, and it has been approved by the Home Office. Usually, this will mean that your sponsor licence is now valid for four years. The next step is to understand how to maintain your sponsor licence.

The maintenance of your sponsor licence is a crucial part of being a sponsor licence holder, and failure to do so can lead to your licence being suspended or even revoked. In more serious cases, your non-compliance will be reported to the police or relevant authorities. Therefore, it has been more important than ever for you as a sponsor licence holder, to comply with the necessary procedures and processes.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a sponsor licence holder?

Once you have been granted a sponsor licence, you are required to by the UK Home Office, to meet the strict sponsorship compliance requirements. This is achieved through the sponsor management system (SMS) which is the online UKVI portal, to enable you to administer day-to-day duties and any sponsorship activities – from record-keeping, to monitoring and reporting.

How do you manage your sponsor licence details?

As a Level 1 user, you should ensure that you regularly check the licence summary function in the SMS, to make sure that your details are accurate and updated. To amend any details that may have changed or are incorrect, you can simply submit a request through the SMS portal.

In all cases, as a Level 1 user you must still print, complete, and send a submission document to the UKVI for the change request to be reviewed and considered, along with supporting documentation. It is crucial that this is signed by the Authorising Officer.

Regarding the expiration of your licence, you will be notified by email of important events such as this, which will require you to apply to renew your licence in time. If your licence expires, you will no longer be able to log onto the SMS or sponsor migrant workers.

Failure to comply with your sponsorship duties – what happens?

It is crucial to note that in the event you fail to comply with your sponsorship duties, you are at risk of action being taken against you by the Home Office. In the case where there have been significant failings, and you pose a serious threat to immigration control, you will be at high risk of your licence being suspended or revoked.

Additionally, if it is found that you are employing migrant workers illegally, you will be at risk of a serious civil penalty, or possibly criminal prosecution.

What is a compliance visit?

In the case where the Home Office decides to investigate your ability to comply with your duties, they may visit you at any time to carry out a compliance visit. Essentially, a compliance visit will help the Home Office determine whether you are undertaking your duties effectively as a sponsor licence holder, but additionally whether the workers you are sponsoring are carrying out genuine jobs.

This is also an opportunity for the Home Office to assess whether you are running an organisation that is honest, dependable, and operating it lawfully in the UK.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, but the Home Office compliance officer may want to:

• Verify information you provided in a sponsor licence application or a worker’s application.
• Take photographs of the business premises.
• Speak to any current or previously sponsored workers.
• Conduct checks on other workers to ensure you are complying with your obligation to prevent illegal working.
• Check with HMRC to ensure you are paying your workers appropriately in line with the Immigration Rules and sponsor guidance.
• Inspect records and/or systems to ensure you are following your sponsor obligations and adherence to rules, such as record-keeping.

How can our team assist you?

We understand the importance of monitoring your sponsor licence and can provide you with professional and up to date guidance on the rules to ensure that you are compliant with your duties. Given the volume of information published by the UKVI, we can appreciate how difficult it can be to navigate the duties and responsibilities of being a sponsor licence holder.

For advice on to use the sponsor management system, a wider compliance issue, or any enquiries regarding a sponsor licence please do not hesitate to contact us today.