What happens if I employ migrant workers without a sponsor licence?

31 Oct 2023, 55 mins ago

Not all migrant workers are required to be sponsored by a company, for example, if they have permission to stay in the UK as a spouse or a dependant partner, they will not require their employer to sponsor their visa.

However, a migrant worker who, for example, is applying to enter the UK in their own right for a prospective job offer, will need to be sponsored by a UK employer. If the UK employer proceeds to hire the migrant worker without holding a sponsor licence, they could be held liable for a financial penalty as they would be facilitating the hiring of an illegal worker who should not be working in the UK.

If an organisation has been issued with a sponsor licence, it means the Home Office permits the organisation to employ overseas workers. To check if your prospective migrant worker has valid immigration status, we recommend that you use the Employer Checking Service. This service is a great tool to check an individual’s status, and what activities their visa conditions permit them to undertake. If a migrant worker requires sponsorship, it is important to emphasise that their employer will need to be granted a sponsor licence, which is an authorisation from the Home Office to hire overseas workers. The migrant worker will then need to make an independent application for a UK work visa with the confirmation of being sponsored by an organisation approved by the Home Office. There is a minimum requirement for the level of skills and salary that the prospective job will need to meet.

Should an organisation fail to obtain a sponsor licence and proceed to hire overseas workers, they could face a financial penalty. Currently, the fine for employing illegal workers stands at £15,000 per illegal worker for the employer’s first breach and up to £20,000 for each repeated breach.    

It is therefore necessary to carry out right to work checks before hiring employees, even if they are British citizens, as these checks will tell the employer, what needs to be done (if anything) to legally employ the individual in question.

How Gherson can assist    

Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

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