Retroactive changes made to Tier 2 and 5 Sponsors Guidance by the Home Office

With the UK immigration system under review and Brexit looming, changes to Home Office’s policy and guidance are to be expected. It is vitally important to be vigilant to the impact these changes will have on individuals and organisations that use the immigration system every day.


The most recent change has been the addition of an addendum to the Tier 2 and 5: Guidance for Sponsors which was published on 17 July 2019 and applies with immediate effect to all current and future applications for a new or renewed sponsor licence.

Key points to note for sponsors (and prospective sponsors) from the addendum include:

  • significant trust is placed in sponsors to act within the law (this isn’t new language in the sponsor guidance);
  • sponsors are subject to a wider responsibility to act in line with the Home Office’s fundamental values and in a way that is not detrimental to the public good; and
  • the Home Office will take action if it becomes aware of such inappropriate behaviour/actions by a current or prospective sponsor.

Of particular interest to sponsors will be the second point which seems to introduce a broad, ethical dimension to the responsibilities of a sponsor. The addendum includes examples of behaviour which would be “non-conducive to the public good”, including:

  • fostering hatred or inter-community division;
  • fomenting, justifying or glorifying terrorism; and/or;
  • rejecting the rights of, or discriminating against, other groups or individuals on the basis of their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, race, religious belief (including lack of belief), or any other protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

As employers, sponsors are already subject to the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and must act in accordance with the rights and responsibilities held within it. The threat of sanctions from the Home Office for a breach of the Act adds a new avenue for enforcement on employers. Sponsors should be aware of this movement in attitude from the Home Office as a potential sign of things to come. A natural next step for the Home Office would be to increase compliance activity to monitor how sponsors are dealing with this change to the guidance. Now is the time for sponsors to prepare for unannounced compliance visits and to make sure any internal issues will not put their sponsor licence at risk. Sponsors, check that your houses are in order!

These changes highlight the importance that sponsors need to be continually aware of the duties and obligations posed on them by the Home Office.

The immigration team at Bates Wells have a wealth of experience in advising sponsors on a range of issues. If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Chetal Patel, Partner in our immigration team.

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of July 18, 2019.