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[Immigration] Home Office Compliance Audits

03 September 2021

Samuel Njogu

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Following the easing of covid restrictions in England from the 19th of July, the Home Office has indicated that they will resume conducting compliance audits by visiting various offices and businesses as they see fit. These audit processes had been disrupted owing to the pandemic and the several lockdowns we experienced from early 2020 through to 2021. Therefore, it is now important to ensure that your company’s record-keeping processes are up to date and comply with the Home Office sponsor licence rules at all times.


How could the increased Home Office focus on compliance affect my business?

The Home Office places significant obligations on sponsors to ensure that they comply with all the rules and guidelines prescribed in the law. The sponsor’s duties range from ensuring compliance with your record-keeping duties to making sure your sponsored employees adhere to all the conditions placed on their certificates of sponsorship. At any time during the course of your license, the Home Office have the right to conductannounced or unannounced visits to any address where sponsored migrants are working. It is, therefore, important to ensure that your company is fully compliant with the sponsorship duties. Failure to do so may lead to your license being downgraded and/or suspended. In serious cases of serious failure, the license could be revoked. That could have a serious impact on your sponsored migrants, as well as on your ability to recruit and employ sponsored migrants in the future.


What are the ongoing responsibilities of having a sponsor licence?

If you currently have a sponsor license, you will be aware that you must ensure that you regularly update the Home Office via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS) of any potential changes to your circumstances. This is an ongoing responsibility that the Home Office takes very seriously when assessing the suitability and credibility of sponsor license holders. They also use the SMS system to monitor and check for irregularities in reporting. Failure to adhere to this requirement may result in their making an unannounced audit visit.


What are the common situations where sponsors are required to update the Home Office?

Some examples would be: if you change your company name; if you change your address; a change of any key personnel; if you establish or close a subsidiary company or linked entity; TUPE situations; mergers and acquisitions; migrants changing their job role; changes to their salaries or duties; migrants leaving your employment.  Meeting the required sponsor license duties requires resource, effort and commitment. Depending on the size of your organization, it is possible that you may be required to meet your reporting duties on a weekly, if not monthly basis.


How can 3CS assist in helping to meet these Home Office obligations?

3CS can assist with the above responsibilities by becoming your designated Level 1 user. Then, once you pass on your significant information to us, it will be recorded and accurately reported to the Home Office within the specified time limits. Other benefits may be available to you once you engage us to be your external Level 1 user. For example, we can advise on CoS assignments, appropriate SOC codes to use, and general guidance over every aspect of the SMS system to ensure compliance.


We can also check you are compliant and improve your HR systems by conducting an audit of your personnel files and record-keeping processes. We then prepare a bespoke report which addresses any possible weaknesses in your processes and procedures, together with any recommendations for improvement. The document can then be used as a point of reference for ensuring future compliance. In addition, we also offer training sessions to advise on compliance and the sponsorship duties your organization is expected to meet, and in addition, we provide some bespoke template documentation to improve your record-keeping and ensure relevant sections are in place to satisfy the compliance rules and thereby help avoid an adverse decision from the Home Office.


If you need assistance with any of the above, please contact our team members.

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Solicitor/Senior Associate

Immigration

Samuel Njogu