Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa
Recent Changes and Top Tips for Employers
As an employer, you must have a sponsor licence in order to employ an overseas national skilled worker. The Home Office places rigorous duties and obligations on employers.
LUPINS top tips
1 – Prepare for a Home Office visit
2 – Implement well defined reporting lines
3 – Review Work regularly
4 – Keep interview notes
5 – Spend time on job descriptions
6 – Retain evidence of work undertaken
7 – Implement a reporting system
8 – Protect your reputation
The Home Office can carry out random checks on Sponsors and these can be announced or unannounced. When Compliance Officers from UKVI visit, they will be checking:
Whether the information you have provided is accurate and complete;
You are able to offer employment;
You are genuine and trading/operating lawfully in the UK;
There are no reasons to believe you represent a threat to immigration control; and
You are complying with all sponsorship duties.
Once at a sponsor’s business premises,
Compliance Officers may:
Photograph the location and premises from which the business is operating to verify the information given at the time the sponsor licence application was made;
Speak to migrant workers, employees and members of the team involved in recruitment of migrant workers to ensure that sponsorship duties are being complied with;
Conduct checks on other employees to ensure the business is complying with its duties to prevent illegal working.
Our business immigration solicitors frequently attend and provide assistance during planned on site visits by UKVI Compliance Officers which in our experience reassures the Home Office that the business is aware of their sponsorship duties.
In order to obtain a sponsor licence from the Home Office, employers must sign up to various duties and obligations as part of the UK’s sponsor licence compliance regime.
The Home Office takes the view that as employers benefit directly from sponsorship, they must play their part in ensuring the system is not abused. Significant trust is placed in a sponsor and with this comes a responsibility to be fully compliant with the Home Office rules.
Increasingly, the Home Office has been undertaking unannounced audits, particularly but not exclusively, for those employers who are deemed to score highly in the Home Office’s risk assessment matrix. Compliance audits are now more robust and detailed, frequently lasting several hours and including interviews with HR staff and Tier 2 visa holders. HR systems will be tested during a compliance visit and failure to comply can lead to the suspension and possible revocation of the sponsor licence. It is fair to say that no company can be 100% compliant all of the time; human error, IT issues and rogue employees exist in all walks of business. It is therefore important to have procedures and policies in place to catch these issues.
The Home Office asks not only the Tier 2 migrant but also other staff who the migrant is reporting to and who is responsible for their day to day role. Where this is a client, the Home Office correctly states that this is a breach of the sponsor guidance. The Home Office is clearly focusing on migrants who are spending long periods at a single client or customer site where they suspect they are filling a full-time vacancy in the client’s business.
Compliance officers will interview Tier 2 migrants and ask them to go through the detailed duties and responsibilities for their role to see if this matches with the information on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). If the migrant gives vague or general answers, the Home Office may decide they are not doing the job for which the CoS was assigned.
Recruitment and the resident labour market test
The Home Office is now asking to see the CVs of unsuccessful candidates for positions filled after a resident labour market test and is looking behind the reasons why British or resident applicants were rejected.
Home Office visits to client sites
The Home Office has begun a more worrying trend of visiting client sites and interviewing Tier 2 visa holders based at these sites. The Home Office guidance was recently amended to emphasise the need for sponsors with migrants working at client/customer sites to ensure that the third party is aware of the possibility of unplanned and unannounced visits, and the checks being conducted at their premises, and ensure their full cooperation.
What should employers be doing?
Steps you can take to safeguard your businesses and ensure compliance include:
1 – Prepare for a Home Office visit – The Home Office is focusing on compliance audits. The message for sponsors is that preparation is key in order to put in place robust HR processes to prevent compliance breaches.
2- Implement well defined reporting lines – Create a hierarchy chart and update this regularly to ensure that you as the sponsor have full responsibility for the duties, functions and outcomes, or outputs of the job.
3 – Review Work regularly – The Home Office will require evidence that the contract in place is time bound. Therefore, update each project with a review. Please note that tasks assigned are consistent with the sponsored migrants job descriptions and CoS.
4 – Keep interview notes – Keep full interview notes for all unsuccessful resident candidates showing clearly the reason why they were unsuitable and how the criteria that were applied were advertised.
5 – Job descriptions – Spend time in drafting job descriptions correctly. Do not simply draft vague, generic wording or exaggerate duties. Review what employees on client/customer sites actually do on a day to day basis and present this in plain English.
6 – Retain evidence of work undertaken – Copies of timesheets, invoices, appraisals, emails of instruction, client feedback etc. should all be kept.
7 – Implement a reporting system – Put a system in place to ensure that sponsored migrants report where they are working if they work at multiple sites and ensure that these addresses are either on their original CoS or that a report is made if a new client site is added at which they will work.
8 – Protect your reputation – Anyone on your premises will need to have the right to work. Most worryingly, Home Office compliance officers have been visiting the end client’s site, which can be a very embarrassing and difficult trend to manage, not to mention the possible reputational damage to the end client who is paying for the service.