Companies face more Home Office UK Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence and Tier 2 visa inspections

Chinese state-owned telecoms giant, ZTE is a recent victim of the UK government’s Tier 2 visa sponsor licence inspections. The Home Office has suspended ZTE from the Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence scheme, used by overseas organisations to recruit foreign nationals to work in the UK, stating that ZTE ‘had not fulfilled its duties.’

In May 2016, UK Visas and Immigration announced that it would be stepping up inspections of Tier 2 sponsors following a government mandate to reduce UK immigration numbers. The Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licence system was introduced in 2008 and licences are valid for four years, so those issued in 2012 expired in 2016.

Tier 2 Visa sponsorship Licence scheme has tough compliance system

According to online publication, The Register, ZTE failed to conform to the Tier 2 program’s tough compliance system. However, it’s unclear which specific duties the telecoms giant failed to adhere to, but it is understood that the Home Office is in discussions about issuing a new Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence for ZTE. 

Operating in the UK since 2001, the telco kit maker can continue to trade in the country and can recruit from the UK labour pool. EEA nationals can be hired too, as well as non-EEA staff who already hold a UK visa.

In April 2016, ZTE was banned from issuing US H1B and L1 visas after admitting breaking sanctions on Iran and North Korea. The company has since paid a $1.2 billion fine to settle the charges brought against them.

According to preliminary financial results posted for 2016, ZTE had a turnover of 100 billion Chinese Yuan (£11.89bn), representing an increase of one percent on the previous year. This was due to, what the company describes as, a ‘slight increase’ in business with carriers and smartphone consumers.

In a request for comment on the case, a Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”

A statement issued by ZTE said: “For legal reasons, ZTE has no comment at this stage.”

These are some of the things that UK Visas may look at during a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence site visit:

  • Whether the employer has full details of the whereabouts of employees and has suitable systems in place for keeping track of employees.
     
  • That employees on tier 2 visas are fully aware of their obligations under the Tier 2 visa scheme.
     
  • That the payroll records and bank statement show that salary rates are at the same or higher than that stated in the Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) If not, can any discrepancies be explained?
     
  • If relevant, has the Tier 2 visa sponsor fully implemented any action points specified during previous visits?
     
  • Full details of recruitment procedures should be made available. This should be in compliance with the employers obligations as a tier 2 sponsor. UK Immigration may very well wish to see that the Tier 2 Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) is being fully complied with.
     
  • Have there been changes to corporate structure since the last visit?
     
  • Are the sponsor’s health and safety policies up to date?

In the past 12 months there has been an increase in the number of Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence revocations, licence downgrades and suspensions as a result of tougher action by the Home Office.

Workpermit.com can help with Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licences and Tier 2 Visas

If you need help with a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence, Tier 2 Visa or would like help with complying with your Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence obligations workpermit.com can help.  More and more employers are facing sudden unannounced onsite inspections.  Contact us for a copy of our free Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence Compliance guide.

Call 0344 991 9222 or email London@workpermit.com for further details.