Who in your organisation is responsible for immigration compliance?


For sponsor licence holders, failure to meet your immigration duties will have an organisation-wide impact - fines, bad press, and potential limits on future overseas recruitment permissions. Who then in your organisation is ensuring your organisation toes the Home Office line?

Davidson Morris Immigration Solicitors write:

As part of your application to the Home Office for a Tier 2 sponsor licence, you are required to nominate an 'Authorising Officer' (AO).

The main functions of the AO are:

  • Acting as the main point of contact with the Home Office. The AO will receive communications concerning changes to your sponsor duties, the need to renew Certificates of Sponsorship or the licence itself etc.
  • Authorising the majority of changes in circumstances or updates to your organisation's licence by signing the notification of change submission sheet via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

The more practical, day to day functions will be carried out by the nominated 'Level 1' user. In many organisations, the same person may carry out both roles. 

Your organisation must at all times have a nominated AO during the period of the licence.

If you are without an AO at any time, or if the AO does not meet the necessary criteria (they’re not based in the UK) your licence can be suspended, downgraded or even revoked.

Who is best placed to take on the role of AO?  

Your Authorising Officer must be: 

• An employee or officer of the organisation
• Based in the UK
• Entitled to work in the UK (i.e they don’t have to be British as long as they have an appropriate immigration status that enables them to work)
• Free from criminal convictions

The rules stipulate the AO should be the “most senior person responsible for the recruitment of all migrant workers and ensuring that sponsor duties are met”. 

There is however a balance to be achieved when selecting your AO.

Appoint someone too senior, and they may not have the day to day involvement required in managing licence duties. Too junior, and you risk lacking wider oversight and understanding of your organisation's recruitment systems.

Given the potentially damaging impact of immigration failings to your organisation, it will be important to ensure you appoint a suitable AO and crucially that they understand and carry out their duties, as required by law.

We provide regular advice, support and training to employers on meeting their immigration compliance duties.

We are also hosting a free-to-attend immigration law seminar in Cambridge on 17 October 2017 looking specifically at compliance for businesses. For more information and to book a place, click here


DavidsonMorris Immigration Solicitors

DavidsonMorris specialises in business immigration. We assist companies with PBS Licences, compliance, visa applications and general advice regarding all aspects of UK immigration law.

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