How to pass a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence compliance audit

 
 

When most employers get an official communication about a Tier 2 sponsor licence inspection or audit their hearts sink, blood pressure rises and the day just gets that little bit darker. Imagine a world where news of an audit was no big thing – just part of the daily post and nothing to panic over or prepare assiduously for. 

 
Top London immigration solicitors say that if a company holds a Tier 2 sponsor licence then UK Visas and Immigration compliance audits are a fact of life but they need not be panic provoking or too onerous a chore. 
 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
Do you need help or assistance with a Tier 2 sponsor licence UKVI audit? Do the sponsor licence record and compliance duties seem overwhelming? If so, the sponsor licence and business immigration team at OTS Solicitors can provide the solution that best suits the needs of your company.  
 
From conducting mock audits to bespoke training on sponsor licence compliance and auditing to full sponsor licence management services, OTS Solicitors can provide the solution. If your sponsor licence has been suspended or revoked then help is a phone call away.
 
Please give the sponsor licence and business immigration team at OTS Solicitors a call on 0203 959 9123 to discuss how we can help you. 
 

The Tier 2 sponsor licence audit

 
When an employer thinks that the Home Office is relying on a company and its key personnel to monitor a sponsor licence and assist with non-EEA migrant Immigration control then it is not that surprising that UK Visas and Immigration occasionally want to conduct an audit to ensure that standards are maintained and rules adhered to.
 
However, Tier 2 sponsor licence audits are on the rise and employers often battle to keep on top of sponsor licence management and reporting duties, especially where there is a large turnover of key HR personnel or a large non-EEA migrant workforce or changing Immigration legislation and rules.
 
The Home Office has the right to carry out either announced or unannounced compliance visits to any address where sponsored Tier 2 migrants are working. The auditor will look at:
 
• Whether a sponsor licence holder is meeting their sponsor licence obligations;
• Whether the company has the necessary systems and procedures in place to comply with its sponsor licence responsibilities;
• Whether the company is providing full and accurate information to UK Visas and Immigration;
• Whether the company is preventing illegal working. 
 
The sponsor licence audit can consist of:
 
• Review of migrant worker’s files;
• Review company policies and procedures;
• Interview with key sponsor licence management personnel;
• Interview of Certificate of Sponsorship workers. 
 

The sponsor licence audit outcomes 

 
A significant proportion of sponsor licence compliance audits take place because of intelligence received by Home Office officials. Some audits are however random and routine.
 
Top London immigration solicitors say that whatever the reason behind the sponsor licence audit, the outcome can be:
 
• The revocation of the sponsor licence resulting in employees working under a Certificate of Sponsorship normally having sixty days to find a new sponsor;
• The downgrading of the sponsor licence with a requirement to comply with a three-month action plan to improve sponsor licence management and compliance. During the three-month period, a sponsor licence holder cannot issue Certificates of Sponsorship to new non-EEA migrant workers. At the end of the three month action plan, a second compliance audit may take place. 
 
As a sponsor licence holder can receive unannounced sponsor licence visits from UK Visas and Immigration officials the best advice is for a company to have:
 
• Rigorous but easy to follow systems in place so audit visits are not daunting; and 
• Regular training to ensure key personnel are kept up to date with changes in Immigration Rules; and 
• Mock audits to test the efficiency of systems and procedures.
   

How to pass a sponsor licence compliance audit

 
The best advice on how to pass a sponsor licence compliance audit is keep your procedures simple but effective, do not let the paperwork slide at business times and always think that today could be the day for an unannounced compliance audit.
 
In practical terms, these are some of the basic tips for passing a sponsor licence compliance audit: 
 

1. Keep your records and non-EEA migrant worker’s files easily accessible. There is nothing more frustrating (or potentially suspicious) to an auditor to be told that the file they have asked for is missing. That can happen even if a company is using electronic files rather than hard copy if a specialist document management system is not in use.

2. Keep the filing up to date. There is no point in being able to find the file for the auditor if half the paperwork is missing as the filing is backlogged or you are waiting for an admin person to scan paperwork into an electronic filing system.

3. Keep the files organised – that applies whether the file is in an old-fashioned filing cabinet or an electronic copy. Keeping papers in relevant subfolders or only keeping one copy of the document on file is important. It is easy for a busy auditor to miss the correct copy Resident Labour Market Test if there are numerous drafts on file.

4. Use a checklist and/or a synopsis sheet. However organised your key staff are, a checklist or synopsis sheet can help another member of staff or an auditor easily pick up the hard copy or electronic file and work out what is going on and to find the key piece of information they are looking for.

5. Have a system in place to record training and file improvements. There is nothing that an auditor likes more than for a sponsor licence holder to be alert to the fact that mistakes happen. An auditor knows that a company that acknowledges that errors are made is less likely to have rogue files or staff who are not able to say if a mistake has been made.

6. Carry out regular mock file audits and staff appraisals. The appraisal process should be two way, with key sponsor licence management staff being able to suggest improved simplified working practices to make the sponsor licence management and audit process easier.

7. Know your limitations. If you do not have the HR personnel in place to effectively manage your sponsor licence then employ a top London Immigration solicitor to manage your sponsor licence or to provide up-to-date bespoke staff training or conduct mock audits.

   
However hard your HR staff and key sponsor licence personnel work there will always be one missing piece of paper or failure to update the electronic file but following these simple tips to pass a sponsor licence compliance audit is the best way to make a compliance audit less onerous for the company, HR staff and your migrant workforce. 
 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
OTS Solicitors provide advice on all aspects of business immigration and have substantial expertise in applying for and managing Sponsor Licences and advising companies if their sponsor licence is downgraded or revoked.
 
The legal directory of leading UK lawyers, Legal 500, recognises OTS Solicitors expert advice on business immigration. In addition, OTS Solicitors has Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in Immigration law.
 
For information on Sponsor Licence audits or advice on Sponsor Licence applications, the downgrading or revocation of a Sponsor Licence, the Sponsor Licence  management service or Sponsor Licence training and mock audits please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London business immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.
 

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