The Health and Care Worker Visa, which falls under the skilled worker visa category, was introduced, in part, to aid the staffing crisis and something which Ridouts has seen become a more popular option for many providers who are struggling to find domestic labour.
In this second article of the series, I will be discussing what providers must do in order to become sponsors.
Step 1 – Becoming A Sponsor
Before providers can even think about hiring an overseas worker they must first become and be approved as a sponsor with UK Visas and Immigration (“UKVI”).
There are four matters which providers must consider if they want to become a sponsor:
- Business Eligibility
- Monitoring Systems
- Management of Sponsorship
- Duties of Sponsor
In order for the business to be eligible they must offer an eligible job role at the appropriate rate of pay. For care providers, this would mean any of the roles that fall under the Health and Care Worker visa remit which are necessary for them to provide their services.
Further, as an employer, providers (i.e. guidance states that this includes owners, directors, authorising officers, key contacts, level 1 users (these last three being people who are specifically appointed for sponsorship reasons), and persons involved in your day to day running) cannot have unspent criminal convictions or have had their sponsor license revoked in the last 12 months, assuming they are already licensed.
Finally, as will be touched on in more detail below, providers must have appropriate monitoring systems in place and people to manage the sponsorship.
The requirements for monitoring systems are set out in the Home Office’s guidance on their website. In short, UKVI would expect the following from these systems:
- Right to work checking systems and procedures to check that foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents demonstrating this;
- Only assigning sponsorship to suitable jobs (i.e. they must have an appropriate occupation code);
- Systems to notify UKVI when foreign workers are failing to comply with the conditions of their visa;
- Appropriate and fit for purpose HR systems in place; and
- Systems for reporting and significant changes in the business’s circumstances (i.e. insolvency, change in nature of business, mergers, change of address, etc.) to UKVI within 20 working days of that change occurring.
It will be up to the individual provider how they want to make these arrangements.
Management of Sponsorship
Providers will also need to appoint people to specific roles to manage their sponsorship. This is done via the Sponsorship Management System (“SMS”), which is the Home Office’s online tool used by sponsors to meet their compliance responsibilities and administer their day-to-day license management activities. The level of access to this system will depend on the role each person holds.
This consists of the following mandatory roles:
- Authorising Officer – most senior person in your organisation responsible for recruitment of all migrant workers and ensuring that you meet all of your sponsor duties;
- Key Contact – Acts as main contact between sponsor and UKVI; and
- Level 1 User – Responsible for carrying out day-to-day sponsorship activities using the SMS.
These are the bare minimum required roles that the UKVI expects to be filled in order to be assured that your sponsorship license will be adequately managed.
Duties of Sponsor
Finally, every sponsor will have some general duties:
- Preventing abuse of immigration laws and sponsorship agreements;
- Capturing early any patterns of behaviour that may cause concern;
- Addressing possible weaknesses in process which can cause those patterns;
- Monitoring compliance with the Immigration Rules;
- Ensuring they do not behave in a way that it detrimental to the wider public good; and
- Reporting changes via SMS.
In the event where the UKVI believes that Sponsor has not complied with the relevant requirements, they may reject your application, revoke or suspend your license and potentially alert the authorities resulting in civil or criminal action where the Home Office believes an offence has occurred.
How Ridouts Can Help You Become a Sponsor
Ridouts themselves are an approved sponsor with the UKVI and are familiar with the process of becoming a sponsor and sponsoring an overseas worker.
We can assist providers with matters such as:
- Keeping providers up to date on guidance to manage their sponsorship;
- Assessing whether or not providers are eligible to become a sponsor; and
- Assisting and guiding providers through the application process.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or would like more general advice on the requirements for sponsoring overseas workers, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7317 0340.