Any UK-based company that wants to employ skilled non-EU or non-EEA employees must hold an appropriate Tier 2 sponsor licence. When a sponsor employer is granted a Tier 2 sponsor licence, the Home Office places significant trust and responsibility on the employer to act in accordance with the immigration rules.
To ensure that sponsors fulfill their sponsorship duties, it is essential to have effective HR systems and resources in place. One of the key responsibilities, for example, is to monitor the sponsored employees.
It is critical to prepare and have HR policies and systems in place before applying for a sponsor licence to show that they can comply with sponsorship duties.
To decide which HR systems a sponsor needs, they should look at the duties they have to fulfill.
Managing your sponsorship process – key personnel
The Home Office requires sponsors to have key personnel, and they must carry out the administrative functions associated with sponsorship. Key personnel roles are:
Sponsors could also appoint a level 2 user with more restricted access to the SMS as the level 1 user.
These roles can be filled by different people or the same person. Once the licence is granted, they will use the sponsorship management system (SMS) to comply with sponsorship management.
Key personnel should be suitable for these roles. They should understand the licence and duties, plus have an understanding of legal compliance and employment law.
At least one level 1 user must be an employee, but a sponsor may have other level 1 and 2 users employed by a third-party HR service. You may also use a UK-based legal representative to fulfill some of these roles.
All key personnel, line managers and site managers must be trained and have the relevant knowledge to comply with sponsor duties. The employer should be able to provide records of such training as part of the HR system.
HR needs systems in place to:
Record keeping duties
UK visa and immigration requires sponsors to keep certain records for the duration of the licence. Sponsors should have an HR system for safekeeping of these records. Documents can be kept in hard copy or electronic format and must be made available on request.
Which documents must be kept?
All documents and records must be easily accessible and up to date.
Sponsors have a duty to report any problems to UK Visas and Immigration. Any changes in the employee’s circumstances must be reported within 10 days. This includes reporting a worker’s non-attendance, non-compliance, termination of employment or any breach of any licence holder duties.
Sponsors should be prepared for a compliance visit from UK Visa and Immigration officers to ascertain whether HR systems are in place to meet sponsor responsibilities. During this visit, officers will want to speak to key personnel, the sponsored workers, other staff and see HR records and policies. They will want to make sure that the HR systems can ensure compliance with sponsor duties.
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