Sponsor Licence Reporting and Recording: Changes to the Business
It is common for a business to change structure during its life. It may be a move to a new registered office or a change from partnership to limited liability partnership or incorporation into a company structure. If your business has a sponsor licence to recruit skilled migrant workers on skilled worker visas or other type of work visa, it is best to check with an immigration solicitor to see if your planned business changes need to be reported to the Home Office under your sponsor licence reporting and recording duties and the implications of the changes on your sponsor licence.
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For specialist advice on sponsor licences and for sponsor licence management services call the immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.
The Home Office sponsor licence
When a business successfully applies for a sponsor licence it is often assumed that is the end of the journey to recruit skilled migrant workers on skilled worker visas. Business immigration solicitors see the grant of a sponsor licence as simply the start of a new chapter in the journey.
Sponsor licences come with significant reporting and recording duties. Many of those reporting and recording duties relate to individual skilled worker visa holders, such as the requirement to report to the Home Office if the sponsored employee changes address.
However, some sponsor licence reporting and recording duties relate to the business itself. In immigration solicitor’s experience these types of organisational change can fail to be reported to the Home Office. This in turn can result in issues with sponsor licence compliance during Home Office audits. That’s because business changes can be one-off events and systems aren’t usually in place to pick up on the need to report a change to the Home Office. Often a business may have devised excellent procedures for the carrying out of right to work checks or reporting on sponsored employees but not for reporting organisational change.
Failure to fully comply with all sponsor licence reporting and recording duties can result in a business having its sponsor licence downgraded from an A rating to a B rating or even lead to the suspension or revocation of the sponsor licence if a Home Office action plan isn’t followed.
Changes to the business and sponsor licence reporting and recording duties
The sponsor licence rules say that some business changes have to be reported to the Home Office within ten days and others within twenty days of the change. All too often major decisions are taken by business owners, or at board level, but those changes aren’t then filtered down to the HR director or sponsor licence level one user who needs to report on the change using the sponsor management system.
The ‘big business change’ is if your business goes from the Home Office definition of a small business to a big company or business. The change must be reported within ten working days. The speed of reporting is because if your business falls within the definition of a large business you will need to pay more in immigration skills charges when recruiting skilled migrant workers on skilled worker visas.
A business will be classified as a small business if two of the following factors apply to it:
- The business has an annual turnover of £10.2 million or less.
- The business has total assets or a balance sheet total of £5.1 million or less.
- The business has fifty employees or less.
If you are uncertain about whether your business will fall into the large business category then its best to take business immigration law advice. Likewise, if your organisation loses or gains charitable status this needs to be reported to the Home Office within the ten-day timeframe.
Other types of business changes that need reporting within the twenty working day timeframe are those that the Home Office guidance describes as ‘significant’. What is significant to some business owners won't be viewed as significant by others so the Home Office has provided examples of business changes that are deemed to be ‘significant’. For example:
- The sale of the business.
- A sale of part of a business, for example, one shop or restaurant or branch office.
- The merger of the business – whether or not the other business has a sponsor licence.
- The takeover of the business.
- Cessation of business – including if a business ceases trading because of insolvency.
- A change in the name of the business.
- A new branch name or new branch office.
- A change in registered address for the business.
- A change in the nature of the business.
- A change in the status of the business’s registration with an industry related governing body that the business needs to hold.
- The commission of a relevant offence.
If you are in any doubt over whether a change falls within the definition of ‘significant’ it is best to take legal advice rather than risk a Home Office official advising you that the business has failed to comply with its reporting and recording duties.
It is prudent to take early legal advice on some planned changes. For example, a merger or takeover may require the business to apply for a new sponsor licence. Equally, it is important to cascade information down about changes down to your key personnel so they can efficiently update the sponsor management system to ensure the business remains sponsor licence compliant.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
For specialist advice on sponsor licence reporting and recording duties and compliances issues or sponsor licence management services call the immigration law team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available by phone or video call.