UK immigration chief defends UKBA on sponsorship registration

Rob Whiteman, the head of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has said that he thinks that the UK Border Agency's (UKBA) system of checks on UK employers who register to sponsor overseas workers for UK visas is working well.

Mr Whiteman was appearing before the Home Affairs Committee of the UK's House of Commons on 18th December 2012. Mr Whiteman is obliged to appear before the committee four times a year to answer MPs' questions.

On 18th December, Steve McCabe, Labour MP for Selly Oak, asked Mr Whiteman about UKBA systems for checking on those who applied for Tier 2 and 5 sponsorship licences. A UKBA sponsorship licence allows a UK organisation to sponsor an overseas applicant for a UK visa.

When a UK employer wishes to employ a worker from outside the European Economic Area, that employer must first register with the UKBA as a sponsor/employer. The employer can register to employ Tier 2 skilled workers, Tier 5 temporary workers or both. Once the employer is registered, he is entitled to offer the overseas worker a job. The worker will then apply for a visa at the UKBA or at the relevant British Embassy or Consulate, enclosing an offer of employment letter and a certificate of sponsorship reference number, and other relevant documents. The rules also state that a foreign worker should not be offered a job in the UK if there is a UK or resident worker who is available and qualified for the job.

Pre-registration visits

Mr Whiteman told Mr McCabe that the UKBA carried out visits to employers prior to registration in about 25% of cases. He said that UKBA inspectors had visited 604 applicants for Tier 2 sponsorship licences and 36 applicants for Tier 5 licences prior to registration in 2012. He said that inspectors had also carried out 4,698 post registration checks on Tier 2 sponsorship applicants and 360 post registration checks on Tier 5 applicants.

Mr McCabe asked if Mr Whiteman believed that the checks were sufficient for the UK public to be confident that the UKBA was doing a good job.

Mr Whiteman said that he was and said that the proof that the system worked was the fact that the UKBA suspended and revoked licences. He said that, in the first three quarters of 2012, 469 Tier 2 sponsorship licences had been suspended and 252 had been revoked. He added that 36 Tier 5 licences had been suspended and 20 had been revoked over the same period.

We can help with UK Tier 2 Sponsorship Licenses. In order to sponsor applicants, an employer will need to be registered with the UK Border Agency as a Licensed Sponsor. If you are interested in applying for a Tier 2 Sponsorship License or in renewing your existing licence, please contact our workpermit.com London Office on 0344 991 9222.