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A Short Guide to Home Office Compliance visits

All Tier 2, 4 and 5 sponsors can expect the Home Office to visit them at some point during the duration of their sponsor licence. This article concentrates on compliance visits for sponsors in Tier 2 and/or Tier 5.

It is also possible to have a compliance assessment, which takes place before a licence is granted. The compliance assessment takes a different form to a compliance visit.

Purpose of the visit

The Home Office will be assessing how far the sponsor is complying with its sponsor obligations under the Tier 2 and 5 Sponsor Guidance.

The visit needs to be taken very seriously. If the Home Office are not satisfied with the organisation’s performance, this could lead to the licence being revoked, and sponsored migrants will lose their jobs.

The visit can be announced or unannounced. The Home Office may be acting on intelligence they have received, or it may just be that the sponsor is due to have one.

Preparing for the visit

You may have some notice of the visit. If this is the case then make sure that the Authorising Officer and any other Key Personnel (Key Contact, Level One User) are available on site. You may want your legal representative to be present as well.

Remind yourself of the Sponsor Guidance. Be clear what your duties are and how far you meet them. You will need to ensure that your human resources procedures remain robust and have been correctly followed.

In files for all personnel, check that correct right to work checks have been carried out. Ensure that copies are available of all sponsored migrants’ files, past and present. Check that all required documents are present in the files. If anything is missing try to locate it elsewhere in your filing systems.

If you notice any compliance issues during this time then try to identify if it is a one off error or if it has been repeated. If you have not already done so, you should seek legal advice. Do not try to cover the problem up or lie about it. Identify how the problem happened and consider how you can prevent it. Commit this new policy to writing.

If the error is a one off error then find evidence of when the procedure has been followed correctly in other files. If you relied on the advice of a legal representative or the Home Office when organising your systems that way then try to find evidence of this.

Ensure that all documents are easy to find and that you know your way round the files. It may be useful to have a ‘master’ list of sponsored migrants, their roles, start dates, visa expiry dates or date sponsorship ended. and You should be able to easily locate key dates, such as visa expiry dates. If the Home Office have requested any documents then these must be available at the time of the visit. If they need to be requested from an external archiving site then do this as soon as possible and ensure you have this in writing.

Let your workers know the visit is happening. They may be nervous. Let your workers know that only work permit holders and Tier 2, 4 and 5 migrants are required to speak to the Home Office. Do let your sponsored migrants know that they may be interviewed. Remind them that they should give truthful answers. They will be asked to sign their interview records when they are finished, and they should not do so unless they have read the record and are content that it is an accurate record… READ MORE