Duties and obligations of sponsor licence holder

All sponsor licence holder organisations have extensive duties and obligations defined by the Home Office. Non-compliance may lead to the licence being suspended (during an investigation by the Home Office) or cancelled (revoked after the investigation is completed).

Checklist for Skilled Worker sponsor licence and Skilled Worker visa compliance

Home Office can visit sponsor’s business premises before the licence is granted (pre-licence audit) and at any time during the licence validity. The purpose of the visit is to check the licence holder’s compliance with their sponsorship duties and obligations. The visits may be announced or unannounced.

Examples of the sponsorship duties and obligations (compliance):

  • Record keeping duties:
    • Keep records of employees’ passports and immigration permits,
    • addresses,
    • contact details
    • absences.
  • Reporting duties: Sponsors need to update the Home Office using their Sponsor Management System (SMS) account within 10 working days of certain events, e.g.
    • if sponsored migrant does not turn up for their first day of work,
    • if migrant’s contract is terminated earlier than indicated on their COS,
    • if you become aware that migrant changed to a different visa type,
    • if migrants work location, salary or job duties change.
  • There is also a duty to keep the Home Office updated on certain information and events relating to the sponsor’s business, e.g.
    • if there is change of ownership,
    • change of business location,
    • mergers/acquisitions or other restructuring or when the business stops trading or is under administration or similar arrangements.
  • Complying with the law: e.g.
    • Only allow the migrant to undertake the specific role set out in their COS,
    • not assign a COS where there is no genuine job vacancy,
    • not employ migrants where they don’t have the experience or permission to do the job in question.
  • Genuine vacancy: Genuine vacancy is one that requires the jobholder to perform the specific duties and responsibilities for the job and is required by the business and not created for the purpose of getting a visa.
  • Co-operating with the Home Office:
    • You must co-operate and allow Home Office staff full access to any premises or site under your control on demand.
    • If any migrants you sponsor work at a third party’s premises, you must also ensure that they are aware of the possibility of visits and checks being conducted at their premises and ensure their full cooperation.
  • Visa specific duties: e.g.
    • pay the salary indicated on the COS certificate,
    • employ the migrant in the job specified in the COS
    • pay salary stipulated in the COS.

Failure to comply with those duties and obligations may have serious consequences. Those include suspension of the licence or licence revocation.