Birmingham Immigration Lawyers
0121 667 6530 (local rate)

Mon - Sun, 8.30 am - 6 pm

Find an office

10 offices in the UK


We are the UK's leading immigration specialists
OISC Accredited UK immigration lawyers
We've had over 5000 applications approved
Get the correct advice from qualified immigration experts
4.7 rating 414 reviews

How to prepare for a Home Office compliance visit

When you apply for a sponsor licence, you are agreeing to allow the Home Office access to your premises at any time to perform a compliance visit.

For more information on how Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can help you, call our friendly team of advisors today on 0121 667 6530 for immediate assistance.



    Request a call back from our immigration experts

    Compliance visits and their importance

    If you are a business that holds a UK Sponsor Licence, you will be more than aware of the possibility of a compliance visit from the Home Office. This is where the Home Office will visit your premises to ensure that your organisation is meeting the agreed guidelines in regards to your Sponsor Licence. The checks help to minimise the chances of illegal working in the UK.

    There are two instances where a compliance visit may take place. Initially, the Home Office may visit your premises after you submit a sponsor licence application to ensure your business is suitable and has a suitable sponsor management system in place. Alternatively, there are many other reasons for Home Office compliance visits after your licence was been granted.

    A key requirement for sponsor licence holders is that the business has an appropriate sponsor management system (SMS) in place. Failure to comply could result in your sponsor licence being downgraded or revoked by the authorising officer from the Home Office.

    For more information on how Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can help you, call our friendly team of advisors today on 0121 667 6530 for immediate assistance.

    Skilled worker visa

    Sponsor management system UK

    You can use the Home Office Sponsor Management System (SMS) in order to meet the requirements as UK employers sponsoring migrant workers with a UK work visa, either long-term or temporary.

    You can use the Home Office SMS system to do the following:

    • Manage or renew your businesses licence or services
    • Create and allocate certificates of sponsorship to employees who you anticipate to work for you- both on a long-term and temporary basis
    • Report changes of circumstances for individual employees
    • Report changes in your businesses personal circumstances- for example, if you change your address

    The running of the sponsorship management system is the responsibility of the company and must be ran smoothly by allocated key personnel within the company. Key personnel are typically highly competent employees who work for you already.

    Preparing for a visit from the Home Office

    No matter how well you prepare for a compliance visit, it makes sense to be nervous and daunted by the experience. In some cases, you will be notified of the visit to your premises, if so, you should take time to prepare.

    Key personnel

    You should ensure that your key personnel will be available in the workplace on the day of the compliance visit. It is important that the authorising officer is present and understands their role fully within the HR systems.

    HR systems and files

    It is essential that all files are located and well organised to ensure they can be easily pulled if the Home Office inspector asks to see them. Before the compliance visit, you should ensure that you review files and ensure that all of the correct checks were done before you employed each employee and ensure each check on immigration status was recorded correctly. Record keeping is something that will be checked thoroughly by the Home Office during the audit visit. You should ensure each folder for each employee contains the correct work documentation and evidence of right-to-work checks.

    Using the SMS

    You will need to check that all of the documentation reflects on the SMS before any Home Office compliance visits. You should be updating any changes on the SMS immediately after they happen. This is vital as using the Sponsor Management system is one of the sponsor duties you accepted when applying for a Sponsor Licence.

    Do you need help applying for a sponsor licence? Our lawyers can assist you. Get in touch

      Request a call back from our immigration experts

      Holding a mock audit

      Before your compliance visit takes place, you may consider holding a mock audit visit within your organisation. This is a completely internal process but it should be taken as seriously as the real visit. The mock audit will allow you to identify any breaches or issues in good time so you can attempt to rectify them prior to the compliance visit day.

      The mock audit is the perfect chance to review files, your HR system and processes. Holding a practice inspection shows initiative and is the ideal way to identify issues early on that could sacrifice your sponsor licence on the day of your Home Office visit.

      Your key personnel should be present at any practice audits to ensure that they are aware of the inspection process and know what to expect from the visiting officer on the day.

      Why might a compliance visit be conducted by the Home Office?

      Home Office compliance visits are often conducted for a range of reasons, such as to check a business for a pending sponsor licence or on check in on an existing sponsor licence holder to ensure the requirements are being met. The Home Office may request a compliance visit for the following reasons:

      • The Home Office has received information that leads them to believe a sponsor licence visit is necessary
      • You have a B-rated sponsor licence which means you have been subjected to a Home Office action plan
      • Another department wishes to carry out a visit and suggests a joint visit with the sponsor licence compliance unit

      The key to ensuring that you are prepared for a Home Office compliance visit is to ensure you are always audit ready should they just turn up.

      Do the Home Office have to notify me that they will be coming?

      The Home Office does not necessarily have to notify you of a compliance visit and reserve the right to turn up unannounced at your work premises. Upon applying for a sponsor licence, you are agreeing to allow the Home Office access whenever they see fit to do so.

      If the visit comes unannounced, it is likely that the Home Office has a reason to believe you may be breaching your sponsor duties and there may be evidence of illegal working in the company.

      Ensuring that your systems are up to date will prepare you for any unannounced visits should they occur.

      As sponsor licence holders, you can refuse the Home Office entry to your establishment but this will be marked against you and will possibly result in your sponsor licence being revoked and it will be noted that you are not complying with Home Office rules.

      How long does a compliance visit take?

      There is no time limit put on immigration compliance visits, but typically, they will take between two to three hours. This is a rough estimate and could be longer or shorter depending on how many people the officer anticipates interviewing to satisfy the checks.

      It is important that the key personnel are available for the entirety of the visit should they be needed for any clarification from the compliance visit officer, this will include your authorising officer.

      The officer will stay as long as they feel necessary to get a feel for your company and how you operate before leaving and concluding their findings of your immigration compliance.

      What happens if a company is found to be non-compliant?

      Non-compliance is taken extremely seriously and action will be taken accordingly if a company is found to be non-compliance or if there is any evidence of illegal working. The penalty given will depend on the severity of the breach. The penalties include:

      • Fines of up to £20,000 per person found to be in your company as a result of illegal working
      • Your sponsor licence is downgraded and your business is put on an action plan
      • Suspension of your sponsor licence
      • Your sponsor licence is revoked completely

      If any of the above are enforced on your company, your right to employ migrant workers under the points-based immigration system will be impacted extremely.

      How can Birmingham Immigration Lawyers help?

      Birmingham Immigration lawyers are experts in sponsor licence and work visa matters and are here to help you today.

      Our immigration lawyers have already helped hundreds of clients and businesses with their immigration needs, and could do the same for you as well. Whether you require assistance with applying for your first sponsor licence, need advice on how to continue meeting the sponsor licence eligibility criteria, or have any other concern with your business and immigration, we can help.

      For more information on how Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can help you, call our friendly team of advisors today on 0121 667 6530 for immediate assistance.

      You may be interested in reading about.

      We can help you if you need help with your Skilled Worker Visa application. Call us now

        Request a call back from our immigration experts

        Advice Package icon

        Advice Package

        Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.

        Application Package icon

        Application Package

        Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.

        Fast Track Package icon

        Fast Track Package

        Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.

        Appeal Package icon

        Appeal Package

        Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.

        Advice Package image

        The Advice Package

        During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.

          Request a call back from our immigration experts

          Request the Advice Package
          Application Package image

          The Application Package

          With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.

            Request a call back from our immigration experts

            Request the Application Package
            Fast Track Package image

            The Fast Track Package

            Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.

              Request a call back from our immigration experts

              Request the Fast Track Package

              The Appeal Package

              By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.

                Request a call back from our immigration experts

                Request the Appeal Package