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How to prepare for a Home Office Audit

Home Office Audit

How to prepare for a Home Office Audit

Visit from the Home Office to conduct an audit

The Home Office representative may visit the company:

  • To conduct a pre-licence audit to check if the sponsor licence can be granted and if the company is able to comply with immigration regulations
  • At any time during the sponsor licence validity period to assess if the organisation is complying with the sponsorship duties.

 

Depending on the result of the visit, the Home Office may grant or refuse a sponsor licence application or suspend or revoke an already existing licence.

 

A Home Office Compliance Officer will check the: 

  • Employer’s eligibility 
  • Documentation
  • HR system used for migrant monitoring
  • Awareness of your reporting activities (sponsor and migrant)

 

During their visit, the Home Office will speak to the Authorising Officer and review the sponsor’s relevant HR procedures and records. They may also speak to Skilled Worker migrants to establish if their job duties are in line with the information recorded on their work permits issued to them. The most common issues found during the visit are lack of HR processes and procedures, the Authorising Officer not having the knowledge of sponsorship duties and obligations, and the migrant’s job role is not genuine.

How the employer’s eligibility is checked

During the visit, the Compliance Officer will establish the legitimacy of the business by checking:

  • The nature of the business and if genuine employment can be offered: What field you are operating in; if you really need to sponsor migrant workers; whether you have an HR system in place to monitor employees’ activities; whether you are registered with the necessary regulatory bodies to legally trade in the UK and for PAYE to pay wages, etc.

  • Employees: They will check the structure of the company and the list of employees; the Officer can talk to any employee and check if the employer fulfills their duties properly. They also check the employees who are sponsored or positions you are planning to fill as a sponsor to ensure you are aware of the duties and responsibilities and what positions are eligible to hire the sponsored migrant for. 

  • The reason for needing the Sponsor Licence (if you are at the stage of application): The Compliance Officer needs to establish whether the business truly needs a Sponsor Licence. At the outset of the audit, they will ask the sponsor why they need to hire a foreign migrant worker.

  • Key Personnel: Details of the Authorising Officer, Key Contact, and Level 1 User (their email, phone number, and working address) should be up to date.

Documentation

The Home Office will look for the following documents or information for the hired migrant employee:

 

  • Right to work check: Attested and dated copies of the passport, Entry Visa, and Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
  • Does the organisation know the employee’s residential address?
  • Copies of the employee’s qualifications
  • Are there emergency contacts?
  • Is the copy of the employment contract easily accessible?
 

To be successful at this stage, make sure you always have the necessary documents at hand, duly arranged and stored. You should know where the relevant document is and be ready to produce it upon request.

 

Sponsors need to ensure that accurate records are kept proving the sponsored migrant has the right to work in the UK (copies of the passport, entry visa, and Biometric Residence Permit are collected, and online right to work check is conducted). See our blog for more information on the Right to Work Check.

Migrant Monitoring

According to the Sponsor Licence guidelines, the sponsor must retain the following information on the sponsored migrant worker:

 

  • Contract with a full job description, duties and responsibilities, salary, working hours, location of the employee, and benefits given by the company
  • Information when the migrant employee first entered the country (to control illegal working)
  • Attendance monitoring, holidays, and absence monitoring
  • History of address in the UK and records of contact details
  • Educational information – all certificates and qualifications especially if the job is regulated by regulatory bodies or authorities

 

This can be done in a format that’s convenient for you, but it should always be at hand.

Reporting Activities

The Compliance Officer should be satisfied that you are fully aware of your reporting duties (and report the changes correctly through the sponsor management system if you are a registered sponsor), hence, make sure you know what and when to report, even if you are at the stage of application.

 

Changes to be reported within 20 working days:

If there are any significant changes to your own organisation, you must report these within 20 working days of the change. Examples of significant changes include:

  • Changing your company’s name or the name of any of your branches
  • Selling all or part of your business
  • Involvement in a merger or are taken over
  • Seizing trading or going into an insolvency procedure
  • Substantial changes to the nature of your business
  • Conviction of a relevant offence, as defined by the Home Office
 

Changes that must be reported within 10 working days:

  • If a sponsored worker does not start the role for which they are being sponsored you must include in your report the reasons given for their non-attendance, if known (e.g. a missed flight, illness, or bereavement)
  • If a sponsored worker is absent from work for more than 10 consecutive working days without permission
  • If a sponsored worker’s contract of employment or contract for services, or any relevant professional registration ends earlier than shown on their certificate of sponsorship. For example, if the worker resigns or is dismissed
  • If you stop sponsoring a worker for any other reason such as:
    • their application for entry clearance or permission is refused
    • you become aware they have moved on to an immigration route that does not need a sponsor
    • they are absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks and this absence is not covered by any of the exceptions 
  • If there are any significant changes in the sponsored worker’s employment. For example:
  • a promotion or change in job title or core duties, other than those which need a change of employment application
    • a reduction in salary from the level stated on their CoS (you do not have to report increases to salary)
    • the location they are employed at changes (this includes where a worker is working at a different client’s site or a sports player moves to another sports club on loan)
  • If a sponsored worker’s employment is affected by TUPE or similar protection
  • If a worker’s sponsor changes but they will work for the same employer and in the same employment
  • If the size or charitable status of your business changes. For example:
    • you were a large company but you now qualify as a small company or have gained charitable status
    • you were a small company but are now a large company
    • you previously held charitable status but have ceased to do so
 

When you submit your report, you must also—where relevant—include the last recorded residential address and contact number for the worker, and any personal email addresses you have for them.

 

Nation.better’s automated platform will efficiently and smartly monitor sponsorship immigration compliance of your company and your sponsored employees in line with the Home Office regulations.

 

The platform provides:

  • The ability to safely store company and employees’ data and documents that is always Home Office audit-ready
  • Notifications and to-do tasks on your dashboard on when and how to report any changes to the Home Office via SMS
  • Reminders ahead of time on when visas/passports or a sponsor licence are expiring and what to do
  • Assistance to your sponsored employees to monitor their personal immigration compliance and report changes to the police in a timely fashion
  • Your sponsored employees with care and support on their immigration journey via our guides and immigration expertise
  • The ability to understand your compliance responsibilities with transparency and ease
  • Ongoing support from our team of immigration experts
 

If you’re looking to learn more about the compliance requirements you must adhere to and the procedures you need to keep track of to maintain your sponsor licence, get in touch with the Nation.better team.

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