What happens at a Tier 2
sponsorship visit from
the Home Office?

The number of companies in the UK who are currently registered as Tier 2 sponsors of migrant workers has just reached the 30,000 mark. Each of them will at some stage receive a visit from the Home Office’s UK Visa and Immigration department (UKVI).  If you have not yet had your visit, or you are thinking of becoming a Tier 2 sponsor, here are the three things you must know.

1.  Why will the Home Office visit?

There are two reasons:

  • to assess your company before issuing your Tier 2 sponsor licence, or
  • to make sure you can maintain your responsibilities after you become a sponsor.

In both cases, more than one officer from UKVI may come to your premises to make sure you understand your responsibilities as a sponsor.

Pre-licence assessment visits

All employers who have recently applied for a sponsor licence will be visited. Before you are issued with a licence, the UKVI will need to check

  • How long you have been in business
  • All of your current employee’s right-to-work documents are valid
  • You have systems in place to verify the status of any non-EU nationals you are already employing
  • You have a genuine need for a licence
  • The necessary HR systems are in place to make sure you can carry out your sponsor duties
  • The number of migrants you want to sponsor is appropriate to the size and nature of your business
  • Whether there is any evidence to suggest you pose a threat to immigration control
  • Anything they feel needs further investigation – for instance, requesting more documents in support of your application
  • You are able to offer Tier 2 employment at the correct pay and skill level.

Post-licence assessment visits

Existing sponsors will undergo a post-licence compliance visit. This will allow the UKVI to determine if you are complying with your responsibilities. You can even ask for them to visit if you feel it would be useful. They will need to check

  • Your HR systems, to ensure you are meeting your duties
  • Whether you pose a threat to immigration control
  • If the original number of CoS you requested is still justified
  • If your migrant staff are complying with the conditions of their leave to remain in the UK – they may want to interview them directly
  • How well you are keeping your records, and the records themselves.

2. When will they arrive?

It entirely depends. Most visits are undertaken without notice; occasionally they are planned. An officer from UKVI will visit your office premises to make sure you understand your responsibilities as a sponsor, either before or after you apply for a Tier 2 licence.

Unannounced visits

You must allow UKVI staff access to any of your premises to see your normal working environment. If you don’t, you will be deemed to be non-compliant and your licence could be refused or revoked.

If your key personnel are not there on the day they arrive, the Home Office will continue with their visit and ask to speak to an owner, a director or someone involved in the day-to-day running of the business.

Pre-arranged visits

If you know someone from Sponsor Operations is coming, you have a chance to make sure that key members of staff are present and prepared for interview, and that any documents the UKVI needs to see are available.

3. How long will a visit take? 

Compliance officers estimate it takes two to three hours to carry out their necessary audit.

Smith Stone Walters Audit and Compliance Management Service 

Talk to us about supporting your organisation in complying with your duties as an employer of an expatriate workforce. Our bespoke immigration audit service will be tailored to meet your business needs and budget while helping you to avoid incurring penalties.

Our dedicated team of UK immigration specialists will ensure that you maintain ongoing compliance under the points-based system. Should we identify any issues with regard to non-compliance, our staff will work with you to improve your processes.

Whether you require a peace-of-mind soft audit or a fully outsourced compliance and document retention solution, we have all the answers.

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