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The importance of good housekeeping for immigration sponsors

The recent case of Raj and Knoll Ltd (the Company) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department gives companies a stark reminder of the severity of failing to comply with UKVI's sponsorship duties.

Click here for the full judgment.

Sponsorship duties

To sponsor a worker from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) under Tier 2 (General) a company requires a sponsor licence. It also has to carry out a ‘Resident Labour Market Test’ (RLMT) to show that the job could not be filled by a worker in the EEA. The role has to be advertised for at least 28 days by two different methods. Sponsors are required to retain evidence showing that the RLMT was carried out.

To submit their visa application, the migrant worker needs a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from their sponsor which includes relevant information about the worker and their prospective job. The place of work is detailed on the CoS and if this changes, the sponsor has a duty to notify UKVI within 10 days of the change.

Facts of the case

In this case Raj and Knoll Ltd (the company) ran three care homes and sponsored several workers with Tier 2 (General) visas. During a compliance visit at the Company’s premises in March 2014 it was discovered that:

  • the office named on the sponsor licence as the registered office was no longer in use by the company; and
  • this office was not the sponsored workers’ place of work as detailed in the CoS.

The company sought to update its registered office address but the application was rejected because it did not provide the appropriate supporting documents. The company also sponsored another two individuals and inaccurately named their registered office as their place of work. The Secretary of State (SoS) suspended the company’s sponsor licence and began an investigation. Subsequently the company’s sponsor licence was revoked because it had failed to provide the migrants’ correct work address and did not provide the required evidence the RLMT had been carried out.

Issues on appeal

The company requested judicial review of the SoS’ decision and argued it was too severe as the breach was trivial. This application was refused and was refused again at appeal. The Court of Appeal said that failing to sufficiently monitor migrant workers and failing to provide documentation to prove that there had not been an abuse of the immigration system is not trivial.

How this impacts on sponsors

Registered sponsors’ reporting and record keeping duties play an active and crucial role in supporting immigration control and companies who fail to comply with these duties will be penalised by the SoS.

Penalties include having your sponsor licence revoked, suspended or downgraded from A-rated to B-rated which has restrictions attached to it. Where the licence is revoked, the migrant workers you employ will be given a 60 day grace period to either leave the UK or obtain a new visa with a new sponsor.

There is little leeway in arguing that a breach is trivial and companies must therefore be vigilant to ensure that their records are updated and changes notified to UKVI within the requisite time frame in order to evidence that there has been no abuse of the procedure.

How Ward Hadaway can help

Ward Hadaway’s expert immigration team provides in-house training on the requirements of being a registered sponsor and the role and duties of those within the company responsible for compliance. It also regularly audits companies’ immigration practices to identify and rectify any breaches so as to avoid being found to be non-compliant during a surprise visit by UKVI.