United Kingdom: Guidance indicates authorities may target third-party sites

What is the change? The Home Office has updated guidance for sponsors stating that UK Visas and Immigration may begin conducting compliance visits at any office where migrant workers are working, including third-party locations such as client sites.

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What does the change mean? The guidance says it is a sponsor’s “responsibility to ensure that the third party is aware of the possibility of unplanned and unannounced visits and checks being conducted at their premises” and to ensure cooperation with authorities.

  • Implementation time frame: April 6.
  • Who is affected: Employers sponsoring migrants under Tier 2 or Tier 5 routes, particularly those with foreign nationals working at third-party sites.
  • Impact on processing times: Compliance checks may occur at any point during the life cycle of a sponsor license and can be announced or unannounced.
  • Business impact: Sponsors face visa denials or penalties if discrepancies on applications or other problems are uncovered during compliance visits.

Background: The guidance states that during compliance visits officers may want to: verify information provided in sponsor license applications, check that sponsors are complying with their sponsorship duties, interview migrant workers, interview any employees involved in recruitment of migrant workers, inspect records, or check on other workers to make sure sponsors are complying with obligations to prevent illegal work. The guidance makes it clear that compliance officers “may visit you and any physical addresses where your migrant workers carry out their work,” including third-party sites.

BAL Analysis: The consequences of failing to meet sponsorship obligations or providing misleading or inconsistent information can be severe. The Home Office states that discrepancies uncovered after a visa decision has been made will lead to action against a sponsor. This may include prosecution, curtailing sponsorship and refusal of future applications. BAL is able to assist sponsors in preparing for compliance visits at their place of business or at third-party sites. All sponsors should be aware of the movements of their sponsored employees and prepare third-party sites for possible site visits.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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