UK Home Office social care worker visa program criticized in newly released report

A new inspection report released Tuesday detailed failures in the UK Home Office’s system for granting care worker visas. The report is highly critical of the sponsor licensing regime for low-skill roles and highlights that these migrant workers are at a higher risk of exploitation because of the Home Office’s shortcomings.

The report stated that it “details the consequences of the Home Office’s limited understanding of the social care sector…and the mismatch between its meagre complement of compliance officers and ever-expanding register of licensed sponsors.” The inspection was conducted by Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration David Neal pursuant to section 50 of the UK Borders Act 2007, an act which makes provisions for UK border control.

Inspections found that there is only one compliance officer for every 1,600 employers licensed to sponsor migrant workers. Furthermore, in every two out of eight inspection visits, migrants with care visas were found to be working illegally. The result of this mismanagement is shown through the allocation of visas, with 275 certificates of sponsorship being granted to a care home which did not exist, and 1,234 certificates being granted to a company which stated it only had four employees.

Neal outlined a number of recommendations in order to reduce these issues. The first was to conduct a review of the skilled workers route and engage with organizations in sectors at high risk of labor exploitation. The inspector also recommends a review of the decision procedure itself, as well as a review of performance targets and workflow to ensure efficiency. The report also suggested a multi-agency agreement to define the responsibilities of each department, its goals and how partners will work together. Finally, Neal said there should be a clear and concise guidance for migrants regarding their employment rights.

The most recent immigration data released by the Home Office revealed that a record number of migrants have crossed the English Channel to the UK over the past three months. The data revealed the Channel crossings are 23 percent higher than the total migrant crossings at this same point in 2023.