Home Office Audits – Latest on Right to Work Checks
The Home Office (UK Visas and Immigration) takes right to work checks very seriously. Businesses have a duty to ensure all employees have the legal right to work in the UK. If Home Office audits are conducted and fail, it could lead to civil penalties, criminal prosecution, and revocation of a business’s sponsor license.
Recent years an increase in number of on-site Home Office audits conducted on sponsors. In 2022 alone, UKVI conducted over 1,000 crackdowns on businesses across the country. During these unannounced audits, UKVI inspectors thoroughly examine employee records to verify correct right to work checks were carried out.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also accompanied UKVI enforcement officers on a raid of a restaurant in London. Numerous have been arrested in record breaking illegal working crackdown (see here ). This highlights the government’s renewed focus and commitment to tackle illegal working through stringent checks and harsh penalties.
The Home Office has increased its enforcement activity with 159 enforcement visits in one day on 15 June 2023, deploying more than 300 immigration officers and resulting in the arrest of 105 foreign nationals working illegally. (See here )
According to Appendix D of the Sponsor Guidance, sponsors must keep copies of original documents as part of the right to work check. This includes passports, biometric residence permits, and share codes issued to EU citizens to prove settled status.
For non-EEA nationals, sponsors must also retain copies of visa stamps and endorsed certificates of sponsorship. Records must be kept securely for the duration of employment and for two years after the person stops working for you.
Strict adherence to right to work check procedures and meticulous record keeping are essential. Even minor administrative errors can lead to fines of up to £20,000 per worker found to be employed illegally. Businesses risk losing their sponsor license if violations are widespread.
Additionally, from January 2024, the fines for employers who permit illegal migrants to work for them are to be increased threefold. The penalty for employers will increase from £15,000 up to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach, and from £20,000 and up to £60,000 for repeat breaches. (See here )
HJTs live online course, Home Office Audits is invaluable for compliance officers and immigration advisors seeking to ensure their clients record keeping meet UKVI standards. The course provides key insights on how to avoid compromising a sponsor licence rating or facing penalties through non-compliance. To book, visit here
By ensuring full compliance, sponsors can avoid serious consequences of UKVI enforcement action. Given the increasing number of unannounced audits, it is critical for HR teams to regularly review and improve document checks and record keeping. Providing assurance that the business can surpass UKVI’s stringent standards.