What Happens When You Don’t Comply with Sponsorship Duties?
What Happens When You Don’t Comply with Sponsorship Duties?
With globalization and the free movement of labour, hiring migrant workers has become commonplace in the UK. However, the British government has stringent processes for vetting and employing workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). A significant part of the responsibility of complying with those legal requirements rests on the employer or ‘sponsor’.
Once a sponsorship license is granted to your organization, you have to ensure that you remain compliant with the legal requirements at all times. This means hiring the right migrant workers, and carrying out your sponsorship duties once you have migrants as employees.
Hiring Legal Migrant Workers
Your first responsibility as an employer is to ensure you hire only migrants who can ‘legally’ live and work in the UK. Organizations are responsible for carrying out thorough checks on the migrants they sponsor, ensuring they are indeed eligible to work in the UK, and they have right to take up the work under question.
If you fail to carry out the requisite checks, and end up hiring illegal migrants, the UK Visas and Immigration (UKV&I) can impose severe sanctions, like:
- Revoke your sponsor license and a mandatory cooling period of 12 months before you can reapply
- A civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker
- In case of non-payment of fines within give timelines, the UKV&I will have to force a payment, which will severely impact your credit ratings
- You can be prosecuted for possessing a false identity document, which could result in imprisonment upto 5 years, or unlimited fine
- You can be prosecuted for knowingly employing an illegal migrant worker, which could lead to imprisonment for upto 2 years, or unlimited fines
- You can be prosecuted on charges of trafficking, leading to imprisonment upto 14 years or unlimited fine, if convicted
- Any instance or allegations of hiring illegal workers will be recorded by the Home Office, and will be used in the consideration of future immigration applications
Ensuring Compliance of Sponsorship Duties
For businesses in the UK, the government requires that employers be responsible for the conduct of the migrants they sponsor. They also want to ensure that sponsors have established processes to screen migrant workers, are able to execute those processes, and are willing to monitor and report on migrant behaviour while under their sponsorship.
All of this comes under the following sponsorship duties:
Organizations must have on file a copy of the following documents for each of their sponsored migrant employees:
- Work Authorization or UK Immigration status document
- Biometric residence permit
Organizations should be able to produce these documents at any time, when requested for assessment by the government, within the given time frame.
Organizations must report any significant changes in migrant employees’ behaviour or circumstances, using the Sponsor Management System.
The Home Office conducts periodic assessments of sponsor organizations, to determine if they are compliant. And failure to comply with sponsorship duties can result in several penalties.
In most cases, the Home Office takes into account the nature of breach-of-compliance before imposing penalties.
- In case of minor breaches, and if you are ready to rectify them, the Home Office issues a plan-of-action that outlines the next steps for you to ensure compliance. Your adherence to the plan is monitored for a given time frame, post which you are deemed fully compliant and can retain your sponsorship license.
- The following instances are deemed as major compliance breaches by the Home Office:
- A systematic failure in your organization leading to non-compliance
- Issuing CoS even though your organization no longer meets the eligibility or sustainability criteria for sponsorships
- You are deemed as a threat to immigration control
In such cases, the UKV&I may decide to
- Downgrade your license: Once your sponsorship rating is downgraded, you can no longer issue Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). You will have to demonstrate that you are willing to correct non-compliance issues, work in adherence to a plan laid out by the UKV&I for three months, and pay any associated fines. Post this, the UKV&I will do a compliance visit and upgrade your rating, if you meet all the criteria set out in the plan.
- Suspend your sponsorship: The UKV&I can suspend your license, with or without further investigation. In the case of suspension without investigation, you can respond to the UKV&I’s decision, and set out your plan for mitigating non-compliance. In cases where there is an investigation, you can respond to the suspension and investigation reports by the UKV&I, before it gives a final verdict.
- Revoke your license: If the UKV&I mandatorily revokes your license, you cannot re-apply until a minimum cooling period has elapsed. Additionally, any migrant workers you sponsored will also have their permission to stay in the UK curtailed to 60 days or less.
As you can see, non-compliance with the laws and duties laid out by the UKV&I has a multitude of consequences and sanctions. And that’s something your business definitely doesn’t want to be dealing with.
While background checks and reporting is something you have to be cognizant of, ComplyGate offers an immigration compliance solution that takes the record-keeping duties off your plate. Seamless document management, standardized workflows, and automatic event reminders help make sure your organization is complying with all the requisite laws, and has everything in place for compliance assessments by the UKV&I.
To get complete control over your sponsor duties and maintain compliance, contact us for a demo of ComplyGate.
*Complygate is a compliance management software, it only provides information and not advice. This website does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.