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Health and Care Worker Visa Sponsorship Compliance

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In this article, our Immigration Solicitors focus on Health and Care Worker Visa Sponsorship compliance.

Why? Owning a business in the UK care sector is a challenge as you are working with highly vulnerable elderly or disabled individuals and your sector is facing a recruitment crisis and therefore being forced to recruit carers from overseas.

Read on for more information on why Health and Care Worker Visa sponsorship compliance is so important.

UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence management and compliance advice call the business immigration layers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Health care report awaited

The Independent Chief Inspector is assessing the extent to which the Home Office’s immigration functions support the social care sector by looking at the effectiveness and efficiency of the Health and Care Worker Visa. It is understood that the report will address:

  • The suitability of the Home Office sponsor licence system for Health and Care Worker Visa sponsorship
  • The effectiveness of the Home Office sponsor licence compliance requirements and if these safeguard health care  employees from exploitation
  • Communications between the Home Office and the care sector

Interested parties were able to give evidence until late September 2023. The report is now awaited.

Labour abuse

You tend to think of labour abuse of overseas workers only occurring in the agricultural sector where employees are often isolated because of the nature and location of their work. That is not the case according to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).

The GLAA is a government organisation tasked with investigating labour exploitation in England and Wales. It reportedly has over 30 investigations into the care sector.

The figures need to be taken into context. Around 40% of all the Skilled Worker Visas granted by the Home Office are under the Health and Care Worker route.

Focus on the care sector

With the Independent Chief Inspector’s report and the GLAA investigations, it isn’t surprising that Sponsorship Licence lawyers emphasise the need for care home and nursing home businesses to be fully compliant with sponsor licence reporting and with their duties.

Your sponsor licence is at risk if you are not fully compliant. With the sector still in a recruitment crisis, if your company is unable to recruit workers from overseas this could affect your ability to meet contracts and severely curtail your business.

Sponsorship Licence lawyers say that sponsor licence compliance is vital whether you are a national company with over 300 care or nursing homes or a company based in London or the South East region operating one or two homes.

The risks of exploitation of overseas workers in the care sector focus on:

  • The age of the workers – carers are often younger than other skilled workers and may lack a network of support when they arrive in the UK
  • The experience of the sponsored employees – carers may not know their employment law rights in the UK. They can assume that they must work extremely long hours or work unpaid overtime because they only had limited rights in their home country. Alternatively, a sponsored employee may think it is acceptable for their sponsoring employer to take deductions from their salary to cover the costs of employing them on the Health and Care Worker Visa. For example, the immigration skills charge or the certificate of sponsorship
  • Sponsorship can make Health and Care Worker Visa holders think that they are tied to their sponsoring employer whatever their conditions of employment because their work visa is conditional on sponsorship. A deterrent from seeking a new sponsored job can be a requirement in their employment contract to refund an employer’s payment of the Health and Care Worker Visa application fee or travel costs to the UK

Sponsor licence compliance and Health and Care Worker Visas

With the spotlight on the Health and Care Worker Visa, companies sponsoring Health and Care Worker Visa applicants must be fully compliant with all their sponsor licence reporting and recording duties. It is also vital to be ready in case of an unannounced sponsor licence compliance visit.

Sponsor licence duties

The Home Office and Sponsorship Licence lawyers talk of ‘sponsor licence duties’ but what are they? A surprising number of care home or nursing home owners commit to sponsoring Health and Care Worker Visa applicants from overseas without fully appreciating the extent of their duties. That is understandable given the extent of the care sector recruitment crisis and the inability to recruit suitable care staff from within the UK.

Broadly, sponsor licence duties cover:

  1. Reporting matters
  2. Record keeping
  3. UK immigration and other law compliance. As well as complying with the immigration rules you also need to meet all the other legal obligations UK employers are subject to. For example, paying all employees the national minimum wage and complying with the Working Time Regulations
  4. The business not engaging in behaviours that are not conducive to the public good


Non-compliance with any of these 4 points could result in:

  1. Sponsor licence downgrading from A to B
  2. Sponsor licence suspension
  3. Sponsor licence case plan
  4. Sponsor licence revocation

Any sponsor licence non-compliance could affect the viability of your care home, nursing home or adult social care business.

The suspension of your sponsor licence means you cannot recruit additional workers on Health and Care Worker Visas.

The revocation of your sponsor licence results in all your existing sponsored employees having their Health and Care Worker Visas curtailed and either having to leave the UK or find a new job with another sponsoring employer. The Home Office can impose a ban on your applying for a new sponsor licence for a specified period. The length of the ban will depend on the severity of the compliance issues.

Sponsor licence reporting duties

Many busy and well-intentioned care and nursing home providers can forget to fully comply with their sponsor licence reporting duties. Sponsorship Licence lawyers have sympathy as a failure to fully comply with sponsor licence reporting duties can occur in well-managed homes or adult social care businesses where the focus is placed on the needs of the service users or in providing practical support to young overseas staff.

Sufficient admin support (and additional Level two users) or the use of a professional sponsor licence management service can help your business keep on top of reporting responsibilities.

Reporting responsibilities include:

  • Changes to a sponsored worker’s circumstances. For example, a change in salary or job title
  • If the sponsored worker is absent from their employment without permission. The reporting requirement kicks in if the employee has been absent for more than 10 consecutive working days
  • The sponsored employee leaves your employment
  • The company moves address or key personnel leave the business


Sponsor licence record-keeping duties

Record-keeping duties are as important as reporting duties as noncompliance with the rules and guidance could result in Home Office sanctions.

Appendix D of the Sponsor Guidance sets out the paperwork you need to retain for each sponsored employee. It is important to note that the Guidance spells out how long you need to keep documents to be compliant with sponsor licence recording duties. However, you may need to keep some paperwork for longer to comply with the illegal working legislation and the conduct of physical right-to-work checks.

How OTS Solicitors can help your healthcare business

Sponsorship Licence lawyers can assist your business in this process with expert advice on:

  • Pre-sponsor licence application audits
  • First and renewal sponsor licence applications
  • Key personnel advice – on the choice of key personnel and their responsibilities
  • Certificate of sponsorship allocation advice
  • Sponsor licence management services
  • Ad hoc advice on sponsor licence reporting and recording duties if you prefer to manage your own sponsor licence
  • Annual audits
  • Preparation and audits before a Home Office announced compliance visit
  • Bespoke training for key personnel and HR advisors
  • Employment contract advice including clawback and recoupment provisions


UK Online and London-Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For sponsor licence management and compliance advice call the business immigration layers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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